The summer months are some of the busiest times of the year for Hollywood’s brass. Marking the release of each year’s blockbusters (and busts), summer movie season is chock full of high-energy and high-drama films in hopes of receiving a coveted nod for an Academy Award.
While most of these films are fictional in nature, there are a few non-fiction and well-documented films that are released each year that are able to produce a great deal of buzz in their respective circles of fans. When it comes to birders, this year marks a very special time when we are able to take in cinematic displays of excellence surrounding the world of birds.
Produced by the minds at SongbirdSOS Productions out of Toronto, their latest release The Messenger is a full-length feature film that dives deep into our inherent connection to songbirds around the globe. Director Su Rynard documents the uncertain fate of songbirds from here in North America to as far as Mount Ararat and uncovers some of the uncomfortable truths that we as humans have created that have been detrimental to thrushes, orioles, warblers and many other songbirds we have grown to love.
A mix of captivating cinematography combined with a compelling story, The Messenger is an emotional journey for those of us who hold birds so dearly, but also uncovers those who are working diligently to reverse the negative effects we have placed on so many species of birds.
The Wood Thrush Connection
Once again dealing with climate change and the negative effects some of the choices we have made affect birds is the subject of this short film. Produced by the Climate Listening Project connects a global audience of birders as they follow the climate-threatened wood thrush from the hills of North Carolina to the jungles of Belize. The short film once again uncovers some uncomfortable findings surrounding the habitat protections and threats facing this melodious songbird.
Crafted by the visual experts at Pixar Animation Studios, director Alan Barillaro went to extreme lengths to create an animated version of a sanderling. The 6-minute feature was rolled out ahead of this summer’s Finding Dory, a coveted spot for any preview or short film and tells the story of a young sanderling braving the short, learning how to feed itself and making a few friends along the way.
By deconstructing the biology of the birds in addition to him and his entire team spending months on the beaches of the Bay Area observing the shorebirds, they were able to create a character that was designed to illustrate the true beauty of the bird.