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June 22, 2009

The HSUS Greenlights Cinema Chimp at 2009 AFI-Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Documentary Festival

$25,000 Grant Awarded to Project Spotlighting Problem of Primates in Entertainment

The Humane Society of the United States

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Cinema Chimp, the extraordinary story of Cheeta, one of Hollywood's most famous chimpanzee "actors," has won a $25,000 documentary grant from The Humane Society of the United States for exploring the controversial issue of using primates in entertainment.

Awarded for the fourth consecutive year at the AFI-Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Documentary Festival (June 15-22) by The HSUS, the organization's Animal Content in Entertainment grant is designed to encourage the inclusion of animal protection issues in short and long form documentary filmmaking.

Cinema Chimp is the perfect example of how a documentary can bring an animal protection concern — or any pressing social issue — to the forefront through a compelling and engaging storyline that has the potential to create a shift in public attitudes," says The HSUS' Ross Hammer.

In providing a unique window on the sometimes bizarre lifestyle of a much-loved animal "movie star" icon, Emmy-nominated documentarian David Grabias' Cinema Chimp goes beyond Cheeta's celebrity to reveal the disturbing truth about the fate of many primate performers, demonstrating why these highly social and intelligent animals belong in the wild, not in show business or the exotic pet trade.
 
Grabias adds, "I'm honored to have been selected from among four other worthy and highly professional projects. I believe Cheeta's poignant and fascinating story provides a filmmaker with rich material for commentary on the way we treat wild animals, and the odd nature of celebrity."

The HSUS received more than 100 grant submission from filmmakers from eleven countries. Cinema Chimp was selected from five outstanding finalist projects by a panel of broadcast executives from PBS, Animal Planet, National Geographic Channel, and The HSUS.

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Follow The Humane Society of the United States on Twitter.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

AFI-Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Documentary Festival is an eight-day internationally recognized event that honors excellence in filmmaking, supports the diverse voices and free expression of independent storytellers and celebrates the power of documentary to improve our understanding of the world.  Now in its seventh year, the festival runs June 15-22 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in the Washington, DC area.  The 2008 Festival featured 108 films from 63 countries presented to over 25,000 attendees, including the influential audiences of the nation's capital and media professionals from around the world. The concurrent five-day SILVERDOCS International Documentary Conference presents thought-provoking presentations and engages a diverse group of over 1,000 filmmakers and industry leaders concerned with the future of non-fiction storytelling, production and distribution.  For more information, go to SILVERDOCS.com.

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