Long Live Benjamin
While visiting his wife’s homeland of Venezuela in 1997, noted portrait artist Allen Hirsch unexpectedly fell in love. The object of his affection? A deathly ill, orphaned newborn Capuchin monkey named Benjamin. Nursing Benjamin back to health and sneaking him into New York City, Allen would find his life — and his sense of self — forever changed by his adopted simian son. The poignant and funny “Long Live Benjamin” disorientingly begins at the end, with Hirsch working on an impressively detailed monkey sculpture before opening a freezer and pulling out the carcass of a dead Capuchin. The film then backtracks to capture Hirsch’s struggles to retain Benjamin, forever evading the laws that prevent Americans from keeping monkeys in their homes. Although sympathetic to the human-animal duo, the film frankly explores the ethical concerns surrounding Benjamin’s life in the city and gives viewers room to question whether Hirsch’s platonically falling in love with the monkey justifies his choice to smuggle Benjamin into New York. But “Long Live Benjamin” also leaves no doubt that the connection between the pair is quite real.
A film composed of fragments of videos by animals who autonomously stole and operated cameras.