“…When you love something as much as Anne loves Giraffes, then perhaps there’s a passion for something greater that has slipped under the radar. But when you break the envelope to make something of yourself and even when all hope seems lost, you stick your neck out far above the rest and find you have a second wind to make a difference.”
— Patrick Donovan – Author/Screenwriter
Seattle, WA (The Hollywood Times) 02/07/2020
About the film:
Directed and Written by: Alison Reid
THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES, which opened earlier this month in NYC to rave reviews in The New York Times, Variety and The Wrap and is currently 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes will open Feb. 21st at Laemmle Monica Film Center, and is being distributed in the U.S. by Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber.
In 1956, four years before Jane Goodall ventured into the world of chimpanzees and seven years before Dian Fossey left to work with mountain gorillas, 23-year-old biologist Anne Innis Dagg made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to study giraffes in the wild. In THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES. Anne (85 in the film) retraces her steps, and with letters and stunning, original 16mm film footage offers an intimate window into her life as a young woman, juxtaposed with a firsthand look at the devastating reality that giraffes are facing today. Both the world’s first ‘giraffologist’, whose research findings ultimately became the foundation for many scientists following in her footsteps, and the species she loves have each experienced triumphs as well as setbacks.
Anne Innis Dagg – University Lecturer In Zoology from the University of Waterloo, Canada.
Got to Africa before Jane Goodall went to study chimpanzees. She was on the old “To Tell the Truth” from the 50’s… No one voted for her and thought it was the first woman on the panel.
Brookfield Zoo – Chicago IL is where her love affair of these animals began at age 3 when her mother took her to the zoo. An author of 20 books, numerous papers, a professor and lover of the Giraffe.
Giraffes have a lovely long neck, a long black tongue and two horn like protrusions from their head. They’re nothing like any other animal on the planet. Ann’s own inspiration was from her first visit at the Brookfield Zoo with her mother at three years old.
August 25th, 1956, she goes by herself to South Africa during the beginning of Apartheid doing her own thing. It’s the moment she’s been waiting for her whole life. Giraffes live for up to 25 years in the wild. When she went to school, she would give speeches about Giraffes and where they lived. There was very little known about them at the time.
She was interested in their behavior and wrote L.S.B. Leaky who helped Jane Goodall studying Chimps. She needed a place to stay, of course and somewhere close to Giraffes so she could study them. She wrote 13 letters all were rejected. Then a man Mr. Alexander Matthew, who had a ranch for “single men”, accepted her. But then, she had to rewrite him, after being invited, and let him know she was not a man and already halfway to Africa. So she was hoping he wouldn’t say, you cannot come. But as fate would have it, he agreed.
She got a second hand car, a Camelo for 200 pounds. She’d drive 100 miles a day. Then, with only 20 miles to go, her car stopped and had to hike it until someone from the ranch came to meet her. The night sky was pitch black and she inched her way along the road. The ranch was 20,000 ac and was called Fleur de Lys.
Her car was indispensable and but was very hot. She took countless notes and had to be as invisible as possible so to not distract them. She was able to take color movies and at 4 pounds per 100 ft of film, she had to restrain herself. She did a huge amount of behavior observation and that was only her third day. Her father passed away in ‘52 and they named a college in Toronto after him: Harold Innis. Alexander Matthew, the ranch owner, wrote her mother and stated that she’ll become famous one day.
She would study the trees that the animal ate to get an idea of their lives and surrounding habitat. When a Giraffe was killed for food, the locals cut it up and gave Ann the heart, stomach and intestines to study. The heart weighs 25 lbs. and the intestine was over 278 ft long. She was hoping to understand what they ate but the stomach only showed a green gooey mess! Did you know that Giraffes cannot trot? Due to their gait, they must move two legs on one side and then the other. They run about 35 miles per hour.
What Anne also found was the huge big wall of being a woman in a man’s world. It took 12 universities and she was not given a fair hearing for tenure. She got the short end of the stick and was unfairly judged by the “old boys” club and just about all the universities didn’t want women let alone a married woman. She pushed the envelope and she went to the Supreme Court of Ontario. This was in 1979 from the case in 1972. She fought four 7 years! She lost.
What’s unfortunate is the giraffe population overall has declined 40 percent in 30 years, and there are now approximately 90,000 left in the wild, of which 5,000 of those specifically are the ‘reticulated’ giraffe, one of nine sub-species. Things change over the years and now they are in competition with progress, technology, pollution, and asphalt roads crisscrossing through Fleur de Lys. Did you know that the most dangerous predator of the Giraffe is the one you see in the mirror when you go into your bathroom everyday: us!
Watch this incredible journey of the woman who loves Giraffes from her start at 3 years old to how she overcame the wall of discrimination and how she made something of herself in a huge way.
Opens for week-long release starting Feb. 21 in Los Angeles-area theaters:
Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena – Director Alison Reid Q&A opening night Friday, Feb. 21
Laemmle Claremont in Claremont – Director Q&A at matinee on Saturday, Feb. 22
Laemmle Monica Film Center in Santa Monica – Director Q&A on Saturday night, Feb. 22
Laemmle Town Center in Encino – Director Q&A after the 1:00 p.m. screening on Sunday, Feb. 23
Visit Laemmle websites above for showtime updates on Q&As