Dr. Jane Goodall, internationally known for her immersive research with chimpanzees, has long been an icon in the field of scientific research. Now, her work and life story have been taken to the big screen with National Geographic’s documentary Jane.
Monday night marked the Los Angeles premiere of the film, held at the Hollywood Bowl, and a star-studded group came out to pay tribute to Goodall’s work and share what it has meant to them. Among the premiere’s attendees were Angelina Jolie, Judd Apatow, Kate Bosworth, Ty Burrell, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jane Lynch, as well as Goodall herself, now 83. The screening was also open to the general public, which sold out the venue with almost 18,000 attendees.
“There are very few people who change the way you think with their talent and insights and the ability to take that information and deliver it in a way that we can all go ‘OK,’ and then we’re off to the races,” Curtis told The Hollywood Reporter. “I just think in my lifetime, she is maybe the biggest role model for women I will have ever had. I just think she’s extraordinary.”
Jane was created from more than 140 hours of footage shot during Goodall’s time studying and living among chimpanzees in Tanzania in the 1960s. The film was captured by Dutch filmmaker Hugo van Lawick, who Goodall would later marry, while documenting her work for National Geographic.
“A lot of people have extraordinary lives, but not a lot of people can articulate those lives, and even fewer have had that entire life photographed on 16mm by one of the world’s greatest photographers,” Brett Morgen, the film’s director, told The Hollywood Reporter. “So screening for this film was unlike any experience I’ve ever had on a movie, not to mention that Jane had movie-star qualities from the second the camera fell upon her.”
The documentary, which is accompanied by an original score from composer Philip Glass, tells not only of Goodall’s scientific breakthroughs, but also of a woman with little formal training in a male-dominated field.
“It’s interesting, sometimes we choose films and sometimes they choose us, and given what’s happening in our world politically, it felt that this footage wanted to come out when it did,” Morgen added.
Comedian Howie Mandel compared Goodall to Jacques Cousteau and Mother Teresa for her selfless dedication to animals and learning more about nature. “I don’t think she ever thought when she started on this journey that she’d ever be famous for it. I don’t think she thought ‘Oh, I’m gonna make a lot of money because no one else is in the monkey business,’” the comic told THR. “What a great symbol of humanity, and if more people were like Jane, we’d have a better world.”
The documentary will be released in select theaters starting on Oct. 20.