Bestiaire (2/21, 5:15pm)

A truly breathtaking exploration of interspecies observation, Bestiaire is the rare documentary that’s subdued and meditative to the point of sensory-deprivation, but also suffused with so much depth and mystery that it’s impossible to turn your eyes away. Shot by celebrated documentarian Denis Côté in Hemmingford, Quebec’s Parc Safari animal sanctuary over the course of several months, Bestiaire simply captures extended tableau of Parc Safari’s creatures doing the actions that they do, as well as their human handlers in the act of tending to them. This visually stunning montage is especially remarkable because it has no deliberate agenda: no interviews, no narration, no sentimentality — and no overt political bent to color its scenes. Every moment is composed like a painting, and each subject is captured by the camera as though in the middle of intense, deliberate choreography. Lingering and drifting into each other in a startling way, these mini-chapters’ gentle intensity accumulates into an experience that will likely be cohesive in a completely different way for every person who takes them in. Potent stuff, in one of the greatest docs of the year. The show also includes Rachel Mayeri’s short film Primate Cinema: Apes As Family (which just premiered at Sundance 2013) and Nicolas Provost’s Moving Stories (the short which played before screenings of Bestiaire at Sundance 2012!)
Dir. Denis Côté, 2012, digital presentation, 72 min.

Chimpanzees, our closest relatives, like to watch film and television. What would a dramatic film made expressly for chimps look like? Media artist Rachel Mayeri — working with primatologists, a film crew, and actors in chimp suits — shot a film expressly for chimpanzees, and world-premiered it at the Edinburgh Zoo.
Dir. Rachel Mayeri, 2012, digital presentation, 13 min.

In this short study of the dramatic and narrative power of image and sound, Nicolas Provost (director of The Invader) proves to be a talented cinematic manipulator who, through minimal means, can achieve a strongly emotionally loaded result. Comprised entirely of close-up footage capturing a jet airliner at the tail end of the “magic hour”, and with haunting audio excerpts from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Moving Stories provides a truly eerie portrait of machines in motion — a new kind of beast found in nature.
Dir. Nicolas Provost, 2012, digital presentation, 8 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Bestiaire”!

Watch the trailer for “Primate Cinema”!