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The 61st Columbus International Film & Video Festival opens tonight (November 7) with a French film shot in the Congo at the Gateway Film Center, at 1550 North High Street Columbus, Ohio, with a reception at 7 pm and film at 8:00 pm. Admission to both the reception and film is just $5. This screening is one night only and it is the Midwest premiere of the film. The film follows the story of an orphan bonobo, rescued by Claudine André, a conservationist who has dedicated her life to bonobos, our closest primate cousins. The event is co-sponsored by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, who are bringing some animal friends to the opening reception. A percentage of ticket sales will be donated to Lola ya Bonobo (Bonobo Paradise), the bonobo sanctuary featured in the film. In addition, Congolese biologist Suzy Kwetuenda (who appears in the film) will be on hand to present the film and talk about Lola ya Bonobo and the bonobos featured in the film. The documentary was created to raise awareness for our endangered primate cousins. Bonobos (pronounced “buh-NO-bos”) are often confused with chimpanzees, and until 1933 they were not considered a different species. With a 98 percent match to human genetics, the bonobos are truly our closest relatives in the animal world. Some scientists suggest that the bonobo is so closely related to humans that their genus name also should be classified with the human genus Homo: Homo paniscus, Homo sylvestris, or Homo arboreus. Bonobos are infamous for their sexuality, rivaling that of humans, but that behavior is only slyly hinted at in the film. “It is a mainstream movie, so we cut out the sex scenes,” says André, the human star of Beny: Back To The Wild. Bonobo society is matriarchal and surprisingly gentle, unlike chimpanzee societies. Conflicts are resolved peaceably, and strangers are generally accepted into the tribe. Bonobos have been referred to as the “hippies of the primate kingdom.” But, as the film shows, these gentle creatures are endangered and could be facing extinction. The poverty of the region threatens the bonobos survival, from both poachers and habitat destruction. “If we can’t save our closest cousins,” André says, “whom are we going to save?”

About the Columbus International Film + Video Festival:

The Columbus International Film & Video Festival is the longest-running film festival in the United States. It is organized by the Columbus Film Council, which is dedicated to serving filmmakers and their audiences by celebrating excellence in filmmaking, the Columbus Film Council believes in educating and entertaining people with the art and experience of film and video. Parking at the Gateway Film Center is available in the garage located next door to the cinema on both 9th and 11th avenues. To validate your parking, purchase a single exit voucher at the film center box office. The cost is $1, which covers three hours in the garage.

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