THE MESSENGER WINS BEST CONSERVATION FILM AWARD AT JACKSON HOLE

On October 1, in Jackson, Wyoming, THE MESSENGER  was honored with a Best Conservation Program Award at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festivals’ Grand Teton Awards Gala.  The Best Conservation Program Award is “Awarded to the program that most effectively contributes to an awareness of timely and relevant conservation issues and/or solutions.”  Finalists included Racing Extinction, and I Bought A Rainforest.

JH Awards. ws. theatre.21710014898_af6d847641_z

THE MESSENGER is an artful investigation into the causes of songbird mass depletion and the compassionate people who are working to turn the tide, directed  by award-winning filmmaker Su Rynard.  The 90 minute film takes viewers on a visually stunning journey revealing how the issues facing birds also pose daunting implications for our planet and ourselves.

Producers Martin de la Fouchardiere and Diane Woods were at the ceremony to accept the award.

JH awards.2 shot.DW.MdelaF. better.21900115865_f8fd508f12_zDirected by: Su Rynard

Producers:  Joanne P. Jackson, Sally Blake, Martin de la Fouchardiere, Su Rynard and Diane Woods

Written by: Su Rynard and Sally Blake

Directors of Photography:  Daniel Grant and Amar Arhab

Picture Editor:  Eamonn O’Connor

Sound Design and Composer: Phil Strong

Additional Editing:  Sally Blake and Carole Larson

Additional photography:  Laurent Charbonnier, Christopher Romeike

and Joshua See

Sound Re-Engineering Mixer:   Daniel Pellerin

Line Producer: Diane Warme

Post Production was done at Urban Post in Toronto.

 

THE MESSENGER is an international treaty co-production between Canada and France, produced by SongbirdSOS Productions and Films à Cinq/ARTE.

US Distribution – Kino Lorber

International Sales Agent ZED

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Jackson Hole press release here

About Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival:  Recognized as the premier event of its genre, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival is an unparalleled biennial industry gathering. Hosted biennially in Grand Teton National Park, over 650 international delegates participate in an exceptional slate of leading edge equipment presentations, seminars and state-of-the-art screenings.

The Festival’s international board members include: Animal Planet, BBC Natural History Unit, Discovery Channel, Disneynature, FujiFilm Optical Devices, Gorongosa Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Tangled Bank Studios, National Geographic Channel International, National Geographic WILD, National Geographic Society, National Parks Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy, Nature/WNET, Off the Fence Productions, PBS, Sony Electronics, Terra Mater Factual Studios and UNIVERSUM/ORF, Vulcan Productions, WGBH, and World Wildlife Fund.

THE MESSENGER is currently screening at Film Festivals worldwide.

More info at www.theMessengerDoc.com

The Messenger – World Premiere at Hot Docs

Hot Docs Press Conference

Hot Docs Press Conference

We have some very exciting exciting news.  The Messenger will have it’s World Premiere at the Hot Docs International Film Festival on April 28, 2015.  At the Press Conference, Canadian programmer Lynn Fernie introduced the film eloquently by asking, “Can we, and even do we, want to live in a world without birdsong?” The film garnered a lot of attention at the conference, and Su was interviewed for radio, television and print.  More on the Press Room page of this website.

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Producer Joanne Jackson (left) and Su Rynard (right)

The Messenger is a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of the imperiled songbird, that contemplates our deep-seated connection to birds and warns that the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own.

On one level, The Messenger is eco-alert as art – a skillfully told character first-person p.o.v. about the mass depletion of songbirds on multiple continents, and about the compassionate people who are working to turn the tide. According to international expert Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, who is featured in the documentary, we may have lost almost half the songbirds that filled the skies fifty years ago.

On another level, The Messenger is an engaging, three-act emotional journey, one that mixes its elegiac message with hopeful notes and unique glances into the influence of songbirds on our own expressions of the soul. For example, a German composer, DJ and bird-watching enthusiast, Dominik Eulberg, incorporates bird-sounds seamlessly into techno music and introduces us to the use of birdsongs in Wagnerian opera.

Dominik Eulberg Composer & DJ_WesterwaldGermany

We meet passionate and motivated people like Michael Mesure, the founder of the Fatal Light Awareness Program, who has spearheaded the treating of skyscraper glass with markers, resulting in a 70% decline of bird deaths. As he says of the movement to switch off lights in empty buildings, ““How often can you say, you flick a switch and a problem disappears?”

We see culture clashes, as in France, where activists run up against hunters of the Ortolan Bunting, an endangered bird that is considered a culinary delicacy. And in the vast prairie lands of Saskatchewan, Dr. Christy Morrissey unravels the mystery behind the sharp drop in the numbers of insect eating birds. She discovers that the smoking gun is likely the same pesticide that is killing honeybees and states, “We are changing the environment faster than birds can cope with.”

But there is an ultimate wild card for songbirds. Turkish ecologist Çağan Şekercioğlu brings us to a crucial songbird site where the distant Mount Ararat looms large as a sentinel for climate change, as its’ disappearing glacier could spell tragedy for the wetlands at its base.

Turkey_Çağan Hakkı Şekercioğlu_Hoopoe

There’s a glimpse of hope for a sustainable future, as Costa Rican coffee farmers learn from ornithologist Alejandra Martinez-Salinas about the benefits of pesticide-free shade-grown coffee. The diversity of shade trees provide a natural habit for migratory songbirds and the birds’ appetite for the destructive coffee berry borer, provides an alternative to agro-chemicals.

Ultimately, The Messenger is about what the birds have to tell us about the state of our planet and of ourselves.

In the words of Peter Marra, of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington, D.C., “When the bird population starts to decline it’s a cold, it’s a flu that the Earth has. Birds provide an estimate of the integrity of the environment itself. We are part of that environment. We depend on it for our own lives.”

Don’t you think the Indigo Bunting looks amazing on the screen at the Bloor Cinema behind Festival Programmer Lynn Fernie? It certainly gives us a taste of what our birds in night flight footage will look like when the film premieres at this prestigious festival.

The Messenger has three  screenings during Hot Docs.

Tickets can be purchased through the Hot Docs Box Office

April 28 ,  9 PM – Scotiabank Theatre,  259 Richmond St. W.

May 1 – 1:30 pm, Scotiabank Theatre, 259 Richmond St W.

May 3 – 6:30 pm, Innis Town Hall Theatre, 2 Sussex Ave.

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Directed by Su Rynard.

Written by Su Rynard and Sally Blake

Produced by Joanne Jackson, Sally Blake and Martin de la Fouchardière, Diane Woods and Su Rynard

SongbirdSOS is an international treaty co-production between Canada and France, produced by SongbirdSOS Productions and Films à Cinq.

International Distributor: ZED

Songbird Documentary on CBC Nature of Things – March 19

Our team has been working on this multi-faceted project for almost five years and the first of two very different  international co-production documentaries is set to debut for Canadian viewers on CBC-TV’s The Nature Of Things, March 19, 2015 at 8 PM.    

Narrated by Dr. David Suzuki and directed by Su Rynard, The Nature of Things SongbirdSOS is an artfully-shot TV documentary about the mass depletion of songbirds in the Americas. It depicts an alarming thinning of populations that has seen declines of many species since the 1960s.  According to  York University’s  Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, who is featured in the program, we may have lost almost half the songbirds that filled the skies fifty years ago.

Hazards affecting songbirds include glass-enclosed high-rise buildings that account for up to a billion bird deaths annually, light pollution that disorients birds’ migratory flight paths, lost breeding and wintering habitats from rain forests to wetlands to boreal forests, oil pipelines and farm pesticides.

Pesticides

Tree Swallow in Saskatchewan

There’s unforgettable real-time front line research in SongbirdSOS. Michael Mesure of the volunteer army FLAP  (Fatal Light Awareness Program) Canada shows the toll on birds on a tour of particularly lethal Toronto buildings. Erin Bayne takes us into the Boreal Forest north of Edmonton, Alberta  to witness the impact of industry on North America’s biggest bird nursery.  In Saskatchewan avian eco-toxicologist Christy Morrissey discovers lethal neonicotinoids in the spring wetland water supply, ahead of its annual application by local farmers. In a revelatory sequence, Bridget Stutchbury equips northern Purple Martins with micro-chip backpacks that reveal the secrets of their oddly-non-linear migratory journeys to South America and back.

And there’s a glimpse of hope for the future, as Costa Rican coffee farmers learn from ornithologist Alejandra Martinez-Salinas about the benefits of pesticide-free shade-grown (and bird-friendly) coffee.

Over the course of a year, following the seasons and the birds, Director Su Rynard and the team set out on a journey of discovery.

“We discovered that the causes of songbird declines are many, and the solutions are few,” states  Rynard. “Yet everywhere we went, we met passionate people who are concerned and are working for change – as this is not just about the future of birds, it’s about the health of the planet too.”

SongbirdSOS Productions Inc. is pleased to welcome Bird Studies Canada as a National Outreach Partner for a Social Impact Campaign for this project.

Check out some related stories on the CBC Nature of Things website. 

Press Release about the CBC TV Nature of Things March 19 broadcast

 

 

SongbirdSOS featured on Green Divas Radio

su-rynard-portrait-songbird-sosDirector Su Rynard escaped from the edit suite to discuss SongbirdSOS on The Green Divas Radio Network.  (Su’s interview starts 22 minutes into the show) The Green Divas Radio show is a one hour weekly digital radio broadcast, which offers listeners low stress ways to love and live a  deeper shade of green.  Host Megan McWilliams and her partner Lynn Hasselberger consider themselves women with a mission for a more sustainable healthy planet. Humour, credible information and some awesome publishing and marketing skills are what The Green Divas bring to environmental issues.  You can hear the podcast featuring Su talking about our film in the Green Divas link above or through iTunes.

Çağan Şekercioğlu wins Award for Conservation Work

Çağan Şekercioğlu, a wildlife biologist and activist concerned with saving the wetlands in his native Turkey, has won his country’s highest science prize for his work in conservation. Çağan is also an ardent bird lover and photographer who will be featured in our documentary SongbirdSOS.

We filmed with Çağan at the Aras Valley Bird Paradise, a conservation site in Eastern Turkey. The region is a globally important wetland. “It’s an oasis,” said Çağan. “These birds are migrating from as far away as South Africa, 4000 kilometers away, on these very long, difficult journeys. This is an important stop-over place where they can rest, feed, breed and some actually winter here too.”

Şekercioğlu’s team of volunteers have recorded 247 bird species at Aras Valley so far and the numbers continue to climb as they study the region further.

Cagan with his team and the SongbirdSOS crew.

Cagan with his team and the SongbirdSOS crew.

Çağan said he was invited to apply for the award last year after he met with Turkish president Abdullah Gül to present him a petition to save the Aras River wetlands from a proposed dam.   There are plans in the works for an enormous dam that could destroy the natural wetland, compromising important bird and wildlife habitat.  “Turkey now ranks 121st out of 132 countries worldwide in biodiversity and habitat,” said Çağan. “The conservation situation in Turkey is becoming worse as environmental laws are being dismantled and literally being thrown aside.”

In spite of this challenging climate, Çağan and his team have been able to accomplish  a lot, including successfully campaigning the government to declare Eastern Turkey’s first protected wetland, building the country’s first bird nesting island and instituting the first wildlife corridor.

“If my receiving this award can convince the government to not destroy the wetlands where I do my scientific research, the cycle will be complete,” said Çağan.

Cagan laughing

Şekercioğlu was among five top international researchers selected for the 2014 awards by TUBITAK, the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey.  The award celebrates scientists from Turkey that work abroad (Çağan  is also a professor at the University of Utah in the USA). He is the first ecologist, ornithologist and conservation biologist to receive the prestigious award.

Çağan Şekercioğlu’s is the founder and director of the environmental organization KuzeyDoga http://www.kuzeydoga.org/ KozeyDoga conducts long-term ecological research, biodiversity monitoring, community-based conservation and wetland restoration. It also promotes village-based bio-cultural tourism to provide financial incentives to local communities to support biodiversity and landscape conservation in Turkey.   

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