WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hailed by critics as “breathtaking,” “mesmerizing,” “spectacular” and “the best documentary of 2017,” JANE from National Geographic Documentary Films will make its broadcast debut timed to Women’s History Month on March 12 at 8/7c in the U.S. on National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD, followed by a global rollout across 171 countries and 43 languages. The BAFTA-nominated film, which has been named best documentary of 2017 by 18 national critics groups, the Producers Guild of America, American Cinema Editors, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review, is the year’s most celebrated documentary and considered “a triumph of filmmaking.”
Drawing from over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage shot in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park in the 1960s, the film from award-winning director Brett Morgen (“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” “The Kid Stays in the Picture”) tells the story of Jane Goodall, a young untrained woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world.
The film opens in 1960 in Gombe, as Goodall, a 26-year-old British woman driven only by her love for animals, embarks on her first research expedition to study chimpanzees. Patiently gaining the animals’ trust, she soon makes headlines with the discovery that chimps are highly intelligent and social creatures that use tools to gather food. When the dashing Dutch filmmaker Hugo van Lawick is sent by National Geographic to document her work in 1964, filmmaker and subject soon fall in love — but professional commitments, polio outbreaks and violence among the chimps threaten the couple’s idyllic existence.
While much has been shared in film and books about Goodall’s work with chimpanzees, far less is known about the woman herself. Now, as Jane studies the chimps, we study Jane — gaining an intimate look as she falls in love and struggles to balance the demands of marriage and motherhood with her lifelong dream.
“Seeing the film for the first time was incredibly nostalgic; there was something very immediate and real and unconstrained,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and U.N. Messenger of Peace. “JANE shows things as they were, bringing to light people’s characters, especially mine and Hugo’s, in such an intimate way. It took me back to the best days of my life in a way that none of the other documentaries have.”
“The narrative I was interested in first and foremost was this story of female empowerment, particularly in the era that Jane was working in,” said director Brett Morgen. “The film is very much a love story, except the love is not between man and woman. The love is between a woman and her work.”
The footage, expertly shot by van Lawick, was rediscovered in National Geographic’s archives — and while pristine, it was not without its challenges. Reel upon reel of 16 mm film was out of order and without notes or audio, leaving Morgen and his team the daunting tasks of organizing the vast archive, identifying 160 chimpanzees and re-creating the sounds of Gombe’s forest. The result is an editing feat that brings the forgotten footage back to life, offering an unprecedented portrait of the trailblazer who defied the odds to become one of the world’s most admired conservationists.
“There have been multiple great documentaries about Jane Goodall’s research and her life, but this rediscovered material showed a side of Jane I’d never seen before,” says Bryan Burk, producer. “By showing her early travels to Africa and her initial interactions with the chimpanzees, along with insights into her private life, the footage revealed a future legend at the beginning of her journey.”
JANE first debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews, and has screened at more than 25 film festivals around the world, including the BFI London Film Festival, New York Film Festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Savannah Film Festival and DOC NYC. The film screened to a full house at the Hollywood Bowl this past October alongside a live orchestra, making it the first documentary ever to play at the iconic Los Angeles landmark, kicking off a multi-city theatrical release that began on Oct. 20, 2017.
About Brett Morgen
Brett Morgen has created some of the most groundbreaking and acclaimed documentaries of the past 15 years, including “On the Ropes” (1999), “The Kid Stays in the Picture” (2002), “Crossfire Hurricane” (2012) and “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” (2015). A graduate of Hampshire College and NYU’s Graduate Film Program, Morgen’s work has been Academy Award and Emmy nominated, and has won several IDA awards and a DGA award. His most recent project, JANE, about the life of Jane Goodall, premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was released nationally by National Geographic in October 2017.
About National Geographic Documentary Films
National Geographic Documentary Films is committed to bringing the world premium, feature documentaries that cover timely, provocative and globally relevant stories from the very best documentary filmmakers in the world. National Geographic Documentary Films is a division of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 130 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information, visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
About Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute
Jane Goodall was born on April 3, 1934, in London, England. At the young age of 26, she followed her passion for animals and Africa to Gombe, Tanzania, where she began her landmark study of chimpanzees in the wild — immersing herself in their habitat as a neighbor rather than a distant observer. Her discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make and use tools rocked the scientific world and redefined the relationship between humans and animals. In 1977, she established the Jane Goodall Institute to advance her work around the world and for generations to come. JGI continues the field research at Gombe and builds on Dr. Goodall’s innovative approach to conservation, which recognizes the central role that people play in the well-being of animals and the environment. In 1991, she founded Roots & Shoots, a global program that connects young people in nearly 100 countries to be conservation activists in their daily lives. Today, Dr. Goodall travels the world, speaking about the threats facing chimpanzees, other environmental crises and her reasons for hope. In her books and speeches, she emphasizes the interconnectedness of all living things and the collective power of individual action. Dr. Goodall is a U.N. Messenger of Peace. For more information about Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute, visit janegoodall.org.