The CENTER: Gibbons and Guardians

The sometimes funny, sometimes startling story of the Gibbon Conservation Center. There, a determined group of individuals dedicate their lives to the care of these endangered apes — and in the process, find courage, laughter, and even romance.

  • Alex M. Azmi
    To Climb a Gold Mountain, Give Me a Ring, Man and Machine
  • Alex M. Azmi
  • Michael Thau
  • Michael Thau
  • Gabi Skollar
  • Dan Watt
  • Dr. Jane Goodall
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Drama, Nature, Animals, Family
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 3 minutes 34 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 21, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, 4k
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Gravitas Ventures, Inc
    Country: United States
    Rights: Internet, Video on Demand, Pay Per View, Hotel, Airline, Ship, Video / Disc, Free TV, Paid TV, Console / Handheld Device
    Country: Canada
    Rights: Internet, Video on Demand, Pay Per View, Hotel, Airline, Ship, Video / Disc, Free TV, Paid TV, Console / Handheld Device
Director Biography - Alex M. Azmi

Alex Azmi is an Emmy-Award winner filmmaker. He is based in Los Angeles, CA, and is interested in documentaries and narrative films that deal with social and human issues. Alex is dedicated to producing high-quality films in collaboration with talented artists in the US and around the world.

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Director Statement

It was quite an experience, getting the opportunity to see the story of the Gibbon Conservation Center unfolds little by little.

The film ‘The CENTER: Gibbons and Guardians’ was shot entirely, save for one interview, on location in the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, California. Funnily enough, the gibbons often sang during our interview recordings. If it was their intention to mess with our production schedule, they couldn’t have done a better job. However, in the end, the experience was remarkable – truly amazing and uplifting.

It was a chance encounter a few years ago with the Gibbon Conservation Center that ultimately culminated in the creation of this film. The idea underwent many evolutions of form, from an informational message to a short film to a full-length feature film. And during the process, I came to know and admire a fascinating society of humans and animals alike. This unique group of individuals work incredibly hard and oftentimes in extreme conditions, so as to protect and care for these singing apes. Within this community of nurturers is the story of the visionary who created the Center, the director and staff who relentlessly navigate one emergency after another, and the volunteers driven by their love for these creatures, day after day. Then, of course, are the gibbons themselves, who boast colossal personalities of their own. Their own stories of love, jealousy, birth, life, and death are no less intriguing than those of their human counterparts.

Over the course of production, I had the opportunity and privilege of meeting with a number of luminaries within the conservation field. I met with Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace; Gabi Skollar, Director of GCC; as well as Alma Rodriguez, Operation Manager of GCC. They took precious time out of their days to explain the plight of the gibbons in the wild with care and attention. These magnificent creatures exist beneath the shadow of extinction, facing a vast array of challenges including but unfortunately not limited, to deforestation as a result of the palm oil industry, hunting, and even illegal wildlife trade. Of the twenty known species of Gibbon, nineteen are now either endangered, critically endangered, or near extinction.

Alex M. Azmi, Director
Los Angeles, 2022