Born in 1969 in the forests of Borneo, Nénette has just turned 40. It is rare for an orangutan to reach such a venerable age. A resident of the zoo at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris since 1972, she has spent more time there than any member of the staff. The unrivalled star of the place, she sees hundreds of visitors file past her cage each day. And, of course, each one of them has comments to make… They laugh, exclaim, sympathize, pity, and admire her skill, her agility, the sheen of the fur; they philosophize, compare themselves to her. The film is based on the divergence between image and sound, meaning that we see the animals without ever hearing them and hear the humans without ever seeing them. Behind the glass, Nénette is a mirror: in talking about her, we talk about ourselves; in looking at her, we include ourselves in the picture, yet we shall never know what she thinks, or even if she thinks. The mystery remains. Deep down, Nénette is the perfect confidante because she keeps all secrets.


Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (2010)
Planete Doc Review Film Festival, Poland (2010)
San Francisco International Film Festival, USA (2010)
Edinburgh International Film Festival, UK (2010)
Melbourne International Film Festival, Australia (2010)

Nicolas Philibert

He was born in 1951 in Nancy, France. After studying philosophy, he turned to film and became an assistant director, most notably for René Allio, Alain Tanner and Claude Goretta. In 1978 he co-directed his first documentary feature with Gérard Mordillat called His Master's Voice in which a dozen bosses of leading industrial groups talk about control, hierarchy and power, gradually sketching out the image of a future world ruled by the financial sector…From 1985 to 1987, Philibert shot various mountaineering and sports adventure films for television, then started directing documentary features that would all obtain a theatrical release: a film essay pitched between documentary and fiction Who Knows? and To Be and to Have about daily life in a "single class" school in a mountain village. Screened as part of the Official Selection at the 2002 Cannes Festival, Prix Louis Delluc 2002, the film was a huge success in France and over forty other countries. In 2007 he directed Back to Normandy. In the film Philibert returns to the settings of the film I, Pierre Rivière, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister and My Brother… (Moi, Pierre Rivière, ayant égorgé ma mère, ma soeur et mon frère..., 1976) by René Allio, the director who gave him the chance to take his first steps in film.

Selected Filmography

Back to Normandy / Retour en Normandie (2007)
To Be and to Have / Être et avoir (2002)
Who Knows? / Qui sait? (1997)
Family Portraits / Portraits de famille (1994)
Louvre City / La Ville Louvre (1990)
Trilogy for One Man / Trilogie pour un homme seul (1987)
His Master‘s Voice / Le Voix de son maître (1978)


Director and Scriptwriter: Nicolas Philibert
Cinematography: Katell Djian, Nicolas Philibert
Music: Philippe Hersant
Sound: Jean Umansky, Laurent Gabiot, Julien Cloquet
Film Editing: Nicolas Philibert, Léa Masson
Producers: Serge Lalou, Alain Esmery
Production: Les Films d’Ici
France, 2010, 70 min.