An indie documentary that has come rather quietly into the spotlight lately, Project Nim details one professor’s attempt to teach a chimpanzee to communicate through sign language. Project Nim premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and gets a limited theatrical release on July 8. Thanks to an internet release by Roadside Attractions, eager viewers can get a taste of what is to come with the first six minutes of the film.
Academy Award winning documentarian James Marsh (Man on Wire) brings audiences the story of Nim, a chimpanzee baby given to a family back in the ’70s to be raised as a human and taught sign language. Columbia University professor Herbert Terrace, back in the experimental days of the early ’70s, decided to carry out a research experiment to prove that a chimpanzee could develop language (sign language) if he was raised as a human. So Terrace gave a baby chimp named Nim to one of his psychology graduate students to raise as her own child.
If the first six minutes are any indication, this looks to be one of those documentaries that draw you in from the very beginning, and keep you interested with plenty of real footage, still photos, and interviews. Plus, little Nim is so cute! His story, apparently, becomes rather heart-wrenching by the end of the documentary as his fate plays out (and it isn’t family dinners and long conversations).
Check out the first six minutes below and judge for yourselves.