'Nenette'

Another observational docu from respected French helmer Nicolas Philibert.

A film about watching and being watched, “Nenette” reps another observational docu from respected French helmer Nicolas Philibert (“To Be and to Have,” “In the Land of the Deaf”). Visual focus is on the eponymous orangutan, resident at the Paris Garden of Plants Zoo for the past 37 years. She is shown in claustrophobic closeup from the visitor’s side of the glass; in contrast, the soundtrack consists of unseen visitors and zookeepers discussing her history and habits. Most interesting as an intellectual experiment on divergence of image and sound, the limited-appeal pic opens in France in March.

Now an exceptional 40-year-old, red-furred, Borneo-born Nenette behaves like the old lady she is, mostly sitting quietly in a corner of her straw-covered pen, enjoying tea from a plastic bottle and a daily serving of yogurt in which zookeepers hide a birth-control pill (the mother of four is sharing a cage with her son, and they don’t want an incestuous pregnancy). Pic makes viewers reflect on the unnatural nature of a life in captivity and the way documentary may also serve as a metaphor for capture. Tech credits are polished.

Nenette

France

Production

A Les Films du Losange release of a Les Films d'Ici, Forum des Images production with the participation of the Zoo of the Garden of Plants, National Museum of Natural History, CineCinema, Long Ride, CNC. (International sales: Les Films du Losange, Paris.) Produced by Serge Lalou, Alain Esmery. Directed by Nicolas Philibert.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm) Katell Dijan, Philibert; editor, Philibert, Lea Masson; music, Philippe Hersant; sound (DTS), Jean Umansky, Laurent Gabiot, Julien Cloquet. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 11, 2010. Running time: 70 MIN.

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