Project Nim

A Red Box Films Production in association with Passion Pictures for BBC Films and the UK Film Council

Premiere: Sundance Film Festival 2011

AWARDS: Winner: Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary 2011


James Marsh


Simon Chinn

Executive Producers

John Battsek | Andrew Ruhemann

Co Producers

George Chignell | Maureen A. Ryan

The story of Nim, the chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. If successful, the consequences of the project would be profound, forever breaking down the barrier between man and his closest animal relative and fundamentally redefining what it is to be human. Combining the testimony of all the key participants, newly discovered archive film and dramatic imagery, this is the picaresque story of one chimpanzee's extraordinary journey through human society and the enduring impact he makes on the people he meets along the way. Filmmaker James Marsh has directed an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human. What we learn about his true nature – and indeed our own – is comic, revealing and profoundly unsettling.

“...Marsh takes the remarkable true life story of Nim, which involves an array of further twists and turns, distressing lows, ...and near-redemptive address deeper questions about scientific responsibility, human cruelty and selfishness, and the links between language and higher consciousness. It’s not exactly the wild fun ride of Man On Wire, but its quite a trip all the same.”

"...By turns funny, tender and distressing, this is a unique story told with insight and sensitivity.”

"...In this stylized but achingly real documentary, Marsh succeeds in telling a layered story about the ways we love, the ways we communicate and the things we do to protect those closest to us.”

" epic drama that swirls around this creature and the desires of those who would attempt to shape him. What emerges is a telling expos of human vanity that reminds us that while our close genetic relatives are as intelligent as they come, we can be the biggest chumps.”