Jane (2018): Brett Morgen’s Documentary about Primatologist Jane Goodall

Brett Morgen’s National Geographic documentary Jane, about the trailblazing primatologist Jane Goodall, earned a unique Emmy win to cinematographers Ellen Kuras and the late Hugo van Lawick.

The film incorporates present-day material lensed by Kuras with long-lost 16mm archival wildlife footage shot in 
the 1960s by Goodall’s then-husband, van Lawick, whose shared in the Emmy win. Accepting the award, Kuras saluted van Lawick’s wildlife photography. Backstage, Morgen, who also won an Emmy for directing Jane, found it remarkable that van Lawick won an Emmy 17 years after his death.

Kuras is still one of very few women working in cinematography, and she said Goodall was one of her role models. “There were maybe three [women in cinematography] when I was coming up,” the lenser said backstage. “It was different back then, we had so few role models [that were women cinematographers]. People didn’t have confidence to hire women in a technical field — the cultural bias of women in science. I think that’s changing, especially in the last couple of years. There are more opportunities; people are looking for diversity.”

She added, “I think the key is having the confidence to give opportunities to women.”

“Ellen is the Jane Goodall of cinematography,” Morgen said of Kuras. “I have had the opportunity to work with some world’s best cinematographers, editors … and Ellen Kuras is the single greatest filmmaker I have every collaborated with. I don’t say that lightly. She’s an absolute genius.”