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Monkey Business: The Curious Adventures of George’s Creators
Monkey Business: The Curious Adventures of George’s Creators

In celebration of the world’s most beloved monkey, who turns seventy-five years old this year, filmmaker Ema Ryan Yamazaki announces the first ever mixed-media documentary about Curious George, Monkey Business: The Curious Adventures of George’s Creators. Monkey Business delves into the extraordinary lives of Hans and Margret Rey, the authors of the beloved Curious George children’s books. The Reys were of German-Jewish descent and narrowly escaped the Nazis on makeshift bicycles they rode across Europe, carrying the yet-to-be-published Curious George manuscript with them.

Hans and Margret Rey Photo Cred Penny Stearns Palmer
Hans and Margret Rey Photo Cred Penny Stearns Palmer

To tell this remarkable story, Yamazaki obtained exclusive rights from the Rey’s estate, curated by longtime caretaker to Margret Rey, Ley Lee Ong, gaining access to the over 300 boxes of the Reys’ personal archives at the de Grummond Collection, housed at the University of Southern Mississippi. Through a unique and Rey-inspired technique of animation, as well as archival photographs, the documentary tells the story of the couple’s lives, the birth of George and how the well-loved children’s book character almost didn’t come to fruition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Universal hold the publishing and merchandising rights to the literary and cultural icon, but it is Yamazaki who has been entrusted with documenting this inspiring story of perseverance, adventure, family and what it means to be a world citizen.

Monkey Business: The Curious Adventures of George’s Creators is Yamazaki’s directorial debut, after amassing an impressive editing credit list including collaborations with seasoned storyteller, Sam Pollard (When The Levees Broke). Marc Levin (Chicagoland) is onboard as Executive Producer.

Ema Ryan Yamazaki
Ema Ryan Yamazaki

Yamazaki, who claims Japan, the UK and New York as three unique homes, was inspired by the Rey’s journey and philosophy of living. She felt a kinship with the married authors of German-Jewish descent who were also multinationals having made homes in Brazil, Paris and ultimately New York City. With immigration and refugee-crises at the center of current and urgent international debate, Monkey Business reminds us that we are all world-citizens, searching for and deserving of a home.

To fund the post-production costs of Monkey Business, Yamazaki is running an ambitious Kickstarter campaign releasing timeless original Curious George prints and digital archive downloads as rewards. The Kickstarter is also intended to be an invitation to the world-community to find inspiration in Hans and Margret Rey’s story. Their own curiosity and imagination gave them the power to overcome life’s greatest challenges. The link to the Kickstarter, also includes personal testimony by Yamazaki about the making of the film.

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