The KCFF is proud to open this year’s edition with an introduction to an extraordinary woman whose name ought to be far more familiar to people other than the zoologists and conservationists who’ve long cherished her invaluable contributions to our understanding of an especially famous member of the animal kingdom. In the 1950s, a giraffe-obsessed young Canadian named Anne Innis Dagg bucked the societal conventions of her times by traveling to Africa and becoming the first person to conduct a study of African wildlife in its natural habitat. Though her discoveries helped galvanize efforts to protect the species, Dagg herself was hardly invulnerable to the effects of the chauvinism that prevailed in academia. Combining a recreation of Dagg’s original journey with a vivid portrait of its subject in the present, Alison Reid’s documentary shines the spotlight on a woman who was just as intrepid in her pioneering work as a scientist as she was as a fighter for women’s rights and a defender of the impossibly long-necked creature that she’s loved since childhood.
Alison Reid is an award-winning director who began her career in film as a stunt performer, stunt coordinator and second unit director. After accumulating over 300 credits, she formed Free Spirit Films to produce projects diverse in genre but similar in their exploration of the human spirit. Reid’s 2007 independent feature, THE BABY FORMULA, sold internationally, won the Audience Award at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, Best LGBT Film at Nashville Film Festival and was nominated for the Golden Zenith at Montreal World Film Festival. Additionally, Reid’s television directing credits include SAVING HOPE, HEARTLAND and MURDOCH MYSTERIES, and producing credits include GIRAFFES: THE FORGOTTEN GIANTS, an episode of CBC’s Nature of Things. Reid is also a director alumna of the Women in the Director’s Chair Program and a producer alumna of the Canadian Film Centre. In 2007 she received a Crystal Award, presented by the Directors Guild of Canada for Best Emerging Director. Her recent project, THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES, premiered at the Atlantic International Film Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia.