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Winner of Award for Scientific Merit – She Walks With Apes

Winner of Award for Scientific Merit – She Walks With Apes

She Walks With Apes explores the journeys of incredible women who pushed primate research into a new direction.


Going to live in a remote forest to study primates is something that many of us dream of.

And in She Walks With Apes, we get to follow the story of three inspirational women who did exactly that. Together, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas pushed primatology and primate conservation into a whole new direction – and inspired a whole new generation all around the world.

So much so, they even gained their own squad name – The Trimates.

Now, the combination of their achievements, incredible historical and modern up-close footage of primates, and overall quality of scientific presentation, has seen She Walks With Apes recognised with the SCINEMA 2020 Award for Scientific Merit.

Directed by Caitlin and Mark Starowicz, and narrated by acclaimed actress Sandra Oh, She Walks With Apes provide inspiration to the inner conservationist in all of us through their powerful storytelling of the legacy of The Trimates.

“I loved the juxtaposition between past and present, and was glad this wasn’t just another faux-inspirational life story,” says SCINEMA judge Casey Harrigan.

Through their groundbreaking observations, Jane, Dian, and Biruté, showed other scientists that they needed to entirely change the way primates were viewed. And that the defining characteristics between humans and primates were blurred.

From Jane’s observations of chimpanzees manipulating objects to use them as a tool, to Dian’s understanding of unique nose prints to identify gorillas, to Biruté’s decades-long orangutan research in Borneo, they pushed the boundaries of the scientific understanding.

Continuing in their footsteps, the film also highlights three young scientists, Julia Badescu, Nadia Niyonizeye, and Ruth Linsky who have embarked on careers, which take them on similar journeys to understand and study primates.

The documentary covers other adjacent topics too. “I like that it didn’t shy away from serious issues, from intersex expression to murder, without feeling grim,” mentions Harrigan.

It also approaches the impact of women in the primatology field. Until The Trimates came along, the research was dominated by men who focused their research on traits such as hunting and fighting. One example is how understanding the connection between mother primates and their infants has many implications for humans, too.

From She Walks With Apes, we see that the next generation of young people carrying The Trimate’s legacy forward to understand our closest animal relatives – the Great Apes.

“Whether you know a lot about primatology and The Trimates or nothing, this doc has something to give you,” says Harrigan.

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For more details about the individual films, visit the Award Winners page.

Image credit: Supplied.

She Walks With Apes trailer:

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