Documentary fans nationwide should make plans tonight to attend a special one-night only screening of “Jane’s Journey,” Lorenz Knauer’s surprisingly superb film on Jane Goodall. It’s probably the most hopeful and inspiring doc I’ve seen since “The Interrupters.” This film is a little more like an ad for an organization (Roots & Shoots) than even that crowd-pleaser, but it’s similarly forgivable for primarily promoting a cause and specific program because it’s the sort that just can’t be denied (well, as we see in the film, Goodall and her son don’t always see eye to eye). Also, like “The Interrupters,” “Jane’s Journey” is a polished work with great storytelling — in addition to and regardless of the positive advocacy elements. It’s a quiet, respectful biographical portrait of Goodall and the work she’s done for chimpanzee and (now) human preservation. It’s also filled with gorgeously shot footage from her travels around the world, including new visits to the wild ape habitat of Tanzania, where her career began.
I’m planning on reviewing the doc more in full, particularly for its role in the current trend of deeply considered stories of animal and human relations (“Project Nim,” “Buck,” “The Whale,” “One Lucky Elephant”). For now, let me just highlight this single event. It’s rare that I recommend one of these Fathom screenings, but this film and the opportunity to hear Goodall speak live is something I’m especially excited about. Actually, if it were just about hundreds of cinemas nationwide showing a great documentary, that would be enough to post on. Tonight, though, you can attend any of the participating locations to see the film, which features Goodall, Pierce Brosnan and Angelina Jolie, and then stay for a conversation between Goodall and Dave Matthews with a special appearance by Charlize Theron and others. You can participate by submitting your questions for them on the event’s Facebook page.
Unfortunately, the pacific time zone cinemas (and presumably the screenings in Alaska and Hawaii, as well) will experience a tape-delayed Q&A, but it should still be a treat to attendees out west. “Jane’s Journey” already played a full week run at NYC’s IFC Center and is currently playing daily at L.A.’s Laemmle Monica 4. The doc will also be opening next month in Seattle, Miami and Cleveland and will have singular screenings in Boulder and San Francisco. See it when and where you can.