A timely, urgent, and relevant documentary, “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,” profiling Canadian biologist Anne Innis Dagg, is coming to Lincoln Theater Thursday, Feb. 20 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m.
In 1956 at the age of 23, Anne Innis Dagg traveled to South Africa to become the world’s first scientist to study the behavior of an animal in the wild. Although Dagg’s pioneering efforts were ground-breaking, her career was destroyed upon her return home. 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.
Writer and director Alison Reid first heard about Anne Innis Dagg in 2012 while listening to “Wild Journey,” a CBC radio documentary that detailed Anne’s pioneering journey to study giraffes in South Africa in 1956. “I was riveted by every word,” said Reid. “The story captivated me and never let me go. I immediately read “Pursuing Giraffe: A 1950s Adventure,” Anne’s book about that experience, “and knew I had to make a film about it.” Moving at the speed of inspiration, Reid met with Anne and optioned the book and her life story. After Anne received an invitation to attend a Giraffe Indaba (or conference) in Nairobi, which meant she would be returning to Africa to see giraffes in the wild for the first time in 57 years, Reid embarked upon making this documentary. “To me, this was a historic event that cried out to be recorded. There was no time to raise financing. So, I took a leap of faith, found a small camera crew willing to go to Africa, and self-financed the trip,” Reid recalled. And with that first footage, the documentary, “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,” was born.
A documentary in three acts, “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes” covers young, pioneering Anne in Africa, Anne back in Canada fighting the system, her giraffe hiatus and her rediscovery, and finally 60 years later. Each chapter is compelling in its own right. The story of her past depicts determination, passion, and risk. It involves pursuing a dream, romance, overcoming obstacles, achieving success and facing heartbreak. The present-day story focuses on overcoming rejection, the joy of being re-discovered and finally receiving recognition, but also having to come to grips with the fact that the species she loves is in grave danger of extinction. By weaving these stories together and juxtaposing them, director Alison Reid gives each a resonance and emotional impact far greater than they would have on their own. At its core, “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes” is a female empowerment story, one full of inspiration for ambitious young girls and women to push forward, overcome obstacles and become trailblazers themselves. It is also a compelling window into giraffe conservation, critical now that giraffes are facing perilous declines in the wild.
This incredible documentary is presented in partnership with Rising Tide Co-op. Ticket prices are $8/adult, and $6/theater members and youth 18 and under. More information is available at www.lcct.org