Redemption Impossible

Alex Macbeth reviews Redemption Impossible - a film about guilt, responsibility and compensation......

In the 1980s, Austrian pharmaceutical giant Immuno tested experimental aids, hepatitis and influenza vaccines on a group of chimpanzees. The few dozen animals were bought illegally from safari parks in Sierra Leone, according to company documents stolen by an Austrian activist, and isolated in an indoor facility in Austria. US pharmaceutical giant Baxter bought Immuno in 1997 and terminated the aids-testing programme. 

But the 40 or so chimpanzees remained, thousands of miles away from their natural habitat: paranoid, aggressive and traumatized. Finding a place to relocate the infected animals became an increasing PR headache for Immuno-Baxter. For a few years, the animals lived in cages beside a safari park, kept alive by the love of their three human carers. 

The film documents the battle to find a permanent home for the chimpanzees, which in thirty years have never seen daylight. Redemption Impossible is a touching portrait of how a group of animals learn to live again with the aid of another species. 

Redemption Impossible (Unter Menschen), Germany, 2013. Dir: Christian Rost, Claus Strigel.


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