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The Woman Who Loves Giraffes + The Zoo

This screening took place on
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 12:00pm
Yukon Arts Centre

Dr. Anne Innis Dagg re-traces the steps of her groundbreaking 1956 journey to South Africa to study giraffes in the wild – and discovers a startling contrast between the world of giraffes she once knew and the one it has become. Weaving through the past and present, her harrowing journey gives us an intimate look into the factors that destroyed her career and the forces that brought her back. In 1972, having published 20 research papers as an assistant professor of zoology at University of Guelph, the Dean of the university, denied her tenure. She couldn’t apply to the University of Waterloo because the Dean there told Anne that he would never give tenure to a married woman. This was the catalyst that transformed Anne into a feminist activist. For three decades, Anne Innis Dagg was absent from the giraffe world until 2010 when she was sought out by giraffologists and not just brought back to into the fold, but finally celebrated for her work. In The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, an older (now 85), wiser Anne takes us on her first expedition back to Africa to retrace where her trail-blazing journey began more than half a century ago. By retracing her original steps, and with letters and stunning, original 16mm film footage, Anne offers an intimate window into her life as a young woman, juxtaposed with a first hand look at the devastating reality that giraffes are facing today. Screens with The Zoo DIR. JULIA KWAN, 2018, BC, 11 MIN Director, Julia Kwan in attendance. Acclaimed filmmaker Julia Kwan, whose feature films includeEve and the Fire Horse, Everything Will Be, explores themes of abandonment, home, and change in this NFB animated film, while touching on some of the debates swirling around two seemingly disparate subjects: the decline of ethnic neighbourhoods and urban zoos. Inspired by a real bear that once lived in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, The Zoo follows the parallel and intersecting lives of Kut, a polar bear cub, and Jun, a Chinese boy who first visits Kut during the zoo’s glory days and returns numerous times over the decades to observe the majestic captive pacing his cement jail. Eventually, they both enter their twilight years; the elderly Jun lives in a cramped room in Chinatown, while Kut ekes out his final days in a zoo that’s closing. Charming yet bittersweet, Julia Kwan’s use of cutout animation makes a statement about ethnic neighbourhoods, gentrification, and abandonment of the elderly. The Zoo leaves its viewers with a lingering and profound sense of hope that home can be found within. Kwan, who made her feature film debut with Eve and the Fire Horse, won the coveted Special Jury Prize for World Cinema at Sundance. In her 2014 NFB feature doc, Everything Will Be, she explored the ongoing gentrification of Vancouver’s Chinatown. The Zoo is produced by Fire Horse Productions Ltd. (Julia Kwan, Ruth Vincent) in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada, BC & Yukon Studio (Shirley Vercruysse, producer; Michael Fukushima, executive producer).

The Zoo (Clip #1: The Polar Bear) from NFB/marketing on Vimeo.

  • Directed by Alison Reid, Julia Kwan
  • 2018, Ontario, BC
  • 93 minutes

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