Frederick Wiseman brings his incomparable powers of observation to bear on the animal kingdom in his 10th feature, chronicling the daily activities and experimental research undertaken by scientists at Atlanta’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center. As the affable scientists test their simian subjects’ capacities to learn, harbor memories, and develop linguistic skills, as well as their behavioral responses to drugs and alcohol, Primate peers beyond the zoological curtain to reveal Wiseman’s underlying concerns—namely, in whose service is this research actually being conducted, to what ends, and what to make of the fraught interspecies power dynamics this research embodies? The result, as ever with Wiseman’s work, is a vital inquiry into scientific ethics and humans’ relations with their fellow inhabitants of the Earth.
Frederick Wiseman’s films are organic, reflective of human experience. My mind is in a meditative state, aware of the act of looking, of being… the subjects, man – animals. To me, his works evoke the same emotion as Warhol’s. —Apichatpong Weerasethakul