Director Ema Ryan Yamazaki combines archival video and animation to tell story of H.A. and Margret Rey
One of the most impressive films to emerge from the LA Film Festival in my view was Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George's Creators by the young Japanese filmmaker Ema Ryan Yamazaki.
Using archival material, interviews and animation created by artist Jacob Kafka, Yamazaki skillfully tells the story of H.A. and Margret Rey, German Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, who created the lovable simian character embraced around the world.
They had just such a dramatic, dynamic and adventurous life.
"They had just such a dramatic, dynamic and adventurous life. Who they were and their life experiences was why we have Curious George," Yamazaki observed during our interview at the Culver Hotel in Culver City. Kafka joined us at a patio area just a few hours before the film's world premiere.
In the audio interview below Yamazaki and Kafka explained how they transformed the Reys into animated characters in their own life story. The director also detailed how she got approval from the Rey estate to make the film, and how George began as a companion to a giraffe named Cecily.
[You'll hear some background noise from wait staff and passersby, along with the arrival at our table of a delicious glass of iced coffee].
Monkey Business went from its world premiere at the LA Film Festival to the Nantucket Film Festival. It screens next as part of the Rooftop Films summer series in New York on August 8.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.