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Tuesday March 5th 2024

Gorillas In The Mist | 1988

Gorillas In The Mist film location: Virunga National Park, Rwanda
Gorillas In The Mist film location: Virunga National Park, Rwanda | Photograph: Shutterstock / LMspencer

Powerful and moving biopic of anthropologist Dian Fossey (Sigourney Weaver), her battle to save Africa’s mountain gorillas and her shocking murder in 1985.

The film’s major location was determined by the habitat of the remaining 650 gorillas (there are now around 900), which can be found in just two colonies, on the borders of Rwanda, Congo and Uganda.

Fossey’s Karisoke Research Centre stands in the Virunga Conservation Area, in the north of Rwanda, about ten miles west of Ruhengeri, the country's third largest city.

It’s in in a rain forest high on a 12,175-foot mountain, which meant the film crew having to carry their equipment on their backs through mud slides, bamboo thickets and the dense underbrush to search for and film the gorillas roaming the extinct volcanoes.

The restrictions necessary to preserve the environment of the endangered creatures meant that the scenes were filmed with Sigourney Weaver and a crew of only five.

Weaver was so affected during the making of the movie (it was made less than three years after Fossey’s murder) that she became Honorary Chairperson of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

Gorillas In The Mist film location: Karisoke Research Centre, Rwanda
Gorillas In The Mist film location: the graves of Dian Fossey and Digit, the gorilla: Karisoke research Centre, Rwanda | Photograph: Wikimedia / Fanny Schertzer

There are plenty of companies offering tours if you want to visit the centre, though always check ahead on current conditions. At Karisoke you can pay your respects at Dian Fossey's grave, and graves of gorillas she did so much to help.

Alternatively, you can sit at home and to the DFGFI website www.gorillafund.org

After two months in Rwanda, there followed another month’s filming in the Aberdare Mountains, Aberdare National Park in Kenya which closely resembles the Rwandan landscape. It's accessible by road, about 95 miles north of Nairobi.

Gorillas In The Mist film location: Ontario Science Centre, North York, Toronto
Gorillas In The Mist film location: the lecture theatre: Ontario Science Centre, North York, Toronto | Photograph: Wikimedia / Fpittui

The opening lecture was filmed in the lecture hall of the Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Road, North York, in Toronto, Ontario.

Its unique architecture was also used by David Cronenberg as a location for his 1970 film Crimes of the Future (not to be confused with his 2022 film of the same name).