Director: Nicolas Philibert


I approached the screening on Nenette with high hopes and an open mind. Nenette is the latest film by French documentary filmmaker, Nicolas Philibert and its eponymous star is the subject of both the documentary and the queen bee of the Parisian zoo in which it is set.

All of Nenette’s scenes are filmed inside of the orangutan’s cage and the dialogue is provided by tidbits of zookeeper and visitor’s conversations. Amongst the snippets of conversations, we eavesdrop on the chitchat of young children and their parents, while her keeper’s comments provide us with a back-story for Nenette.

I was optimistic about this film, as the synopsis sounded both unique and promising. However, it was ultimately too strange for my taste and I really didn’t “get” Nenette, nor did I have any clue as to what I was supposed to get.

The only human presence in the film comes from the overheard conversations heard on the other side of Nenette’s glass cage and these people never enter into the frame of the film. Instead, the camera fixates itself on Nenette for the entire film. Although the fragments of conversation were interesting, they remained just that- varied fragments- and were too discursive to sustain any interest over the seventy minute duration of the film. Nor was Nenette’s role as the main visual focus of every single scene enough to maintain my interest- it just got boring after fifteen minutes.

Although some hard-core wildlife enthusiasts may find Nenette interesting, it is certainly not for everyone.

By Róisín Lacey-McCormac