© Harry BensonNim Chimpsky, as seen in Project Nim.
Project Nim, in theaters Friday, chronicles a bizarre 1970s project that sought to teach chimpanzees language. Marlow Stern spoke with the Oscar-winning filmmaker James Marsh about the ape
It's been almost 80 years since King Kong dangled Fay Wray from the Empire State Building, but once again, simian cinema is all the rage in Hollywood. There's the Kevin James comedy The Zookeeper
, featuring a gorilla voiced by Nick Nolte, and later this summer the ubiquitous James Franco, not to be outdone, will square off against a legion of apes imbued with human-like intelligence in the blockbuster Planet of the Apes
prequel, Rise of the Apes
. And, outside of the "high concept" Hollywood kingdom, there's Project Nim
, the latest documentary from James Marsh, who won an Oscar in 2008 for his awe-inspiring film about Philippe Petit's high-wire balancing act between the Twin Towers, Man on Wire
"It's one of those things that you don't know when you set out on a film two years ago where it will end up in the culture and the zeitgeist," said Marsh. "I heard the same thing about The Dark Knight
and Man on Wire
. Take your pick, in a way. Ours is true, ours happened, and you see real human emotions in that, and real animal emotions in that."