The Ortolan Bunting Will Finally Be Off the Menu in France!

 “We have won our battle against Ortolan Bunting trapping and the phenomenon is basically wiped out from Les Landes.”

 THE MESSENGER took audiences into the fields of Les Landes, in south-west West France, to witness the illegal hunting of Ortolan Bunting, a practise that was decimating local populations.  Now, the Ortolan Bunting will finally be off the menu in France!  No other European songbird has declined as rapidly in recent years, with an overall decline of 84% since 1980 due to poaching and intensive agriculture – this, despite hunting of the species being forbidden by French law since 1999 when it became a protected species.   Because the Ortolan dish is considered a cultural tradition, authorities had often turned a blind eye to the activities of poachers.

 

Ortolan in pan.download

For the past 10 years, LPO (League for the Protection of the Oiseaux) the BirdLife International partner in France has been fighting this illegal practice on the ground, and also in the air, where alongside CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter), they have been identifying trapping sites and releasing the birds, before alerting the authorities. Until recently, these interventions were the only way to identify and prosecute the poachers, who operated with the blessing of local elected officials and hunting officials, and who claimed that the state “tolerated” these practices. Indeed the authorities wouldn’t file charges for installations of 30 traps or less. More on the practise and new developments in this article from Bird Life International.  

The French Ministry of the Environment requested  guidelines to study the Ortolans on a continental scale. 

Frédéric Jiguet from Museum National D’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, (featured in The Messenger) partnered with other scientists from more than 12 countries across EU to conduct the study.  He also worked in partnership with ONCFS (French Hunting & Wildlife National Office).  

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Frédéric Jiguet and his colleagues research work helped convince French Ecology Minister, Nicolas Hulot, to call for a definitive end to the hunting.  This was followed up in the field with a high pressure from the police this past fall, so there are now very few poachers.

The main conclusions are that the numbers migrating by south-west France are estimated on average   only 81,000 pairs (300,000 individuals including juveniles), with a recent decline estimated between -20% and -30%, while the overall trend of birds using the western flyway, or the eastern flyway, is a decline of lower amplitude estimated between -10% and -20%. The birds flying by south-west come mainly from Poland (probably 75%), the others coming mainly from Germany and Sweden, and also from Norway (where there are only astonishingly only 10 breeding pairs left) – so almost only from EU countries.   The first pages of the report are a summary of overall results, then detailed parts on each techniques.  (genetics, isotopes, geolocators). (see links below) 

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Andrea Rutigilano, an on-the ground warrior for CABS also featured in the film says, “We have won our battle against Ortolan Bunting trapping and the phenomenon is basically wiped out from Les Landes.”

Frédéric JIGUET sent us the links to this comprehensive research study about the Ortolan Bunting.

You can download the full Ortolan Bunting report in English at this link.    

The report is also available in French here

Gratitude

With gratitude, 2016 was a good year for The Messenger. 2017 will be a challenging year for our environment and the world we live in. We hope that the film will continue to inspire and inform.

Winner: Prix Buffon, Paris Science, Le festival international du film scientifique, 2016

Winner: Special Jury Award, Visions of Nature/Voices of Nature Environmental Film Festival 2016

Special Mention for Best Documentary, CinemAmbiente, Italy 2015

Winner: Best Environmental Film Prize, Festival de l’Oiseau et de la Nature, Abbeville Cedex, France 2016

Winner: Best of Fest, International Wildlife Film Festival Missoula, Montana 2016

Winner: Best Theatrical Feature, International Wildlife Film Festival Missoula, Montana 2016

Nominated: Best Cinematography in a Feature Documentary, Canadian Screen Awards 2016

Nominated: Best Editing in Feature Documentary, Canadian Cinema Editors Award 2016

Nominated: for Dutch IntL Science Film Festival NTR Audience Award & Youth Jury Award, 2016

Winner: Whistleblower Award Cinema Verde Environmental Film & Arts Festival, 2016

Winner: Favourite Documentary Feature, North Bay Film Festival, 2016

Winner: Best Conservation Film, Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, 2015

Winner: Top Ten Audience Award, Hot Docs 2015

Recipient of the 2015 Carl Nunn Media and Conservation Award presented by Ontario Nature

 

Now available on itunes in Canada and the USA.

Canada: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/movie/the-messenger/id1177748023

USA. https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-messenger/id1082871787

 

The Messenger premieres on documentary Channel May 31st

“Birds have something to tell us.” 

THE MESSENGER – A film by Su Rynard

Television Premiere  – documentary Channel – May 31, 2016 – 9 PM EDT

On the heels of a wildly successful North American tour, THE MESSENGER is coming to documentary Channel on May 31st 2016.

With over 100 screens and 25 cinemas in the USA and Canada respectively, THE MESSENGER is an international story with high stakes and global consequences, chronicling the struggle of songbirds as they survive the turbulent conditions brought about by humans. The award-winning film – accolades listed below – mesmerizes audiences with stunning slow-motion sequences of songbirds in night flight, providing a unique eye into the beauty of the songbirds and the messages they carry.

The Messenger is the most scientifically sound and beautiful film about songbirds I have ever seen. Your heart will be opened to their plight, and your brain to the action you can take to help save them,” says Steven Price, President of Bird Studies Canada.

Akin to the disappearance of the honeybee or the melting of glaciers, the film argues that the global demise of songbirds signals an uncertain shift in an already fragile ecosystem. THE MESSENGER explores our deep-seated connection to birds, while warning that the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own.

In ancient times, humans looked to the flights and songs of birds to predict the future, now the songbirds are disappearing at an alarming rate, and this points to changes in our world. Now is a critical time for our climate and ecosystems.” Says Canadian director Su Rynard. “Today, once again, birds have something to tell us, and I wanted to amplify their message.”

The scientists, activists and bird enthusiasts featured in THE MESSENGER bring us face-to-face with the beauty of these airborne music-makers and with the remarkable variety of human-made perils that they face: the destruction of our forests, our lethal architecture, predatory pets, and the alarming use of pesticides. All of these are causing the disappearance of songbirds at a disquieting pace.

documentary channel logo 

“The Messenger is a beautifully crafted film with an important & urgent message. We are really pleased to be the broadcast home for The Messenger; it feels right on doc channel.” Says Bruce Cowley, Creative Head, documentary Channel.

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Accolades for THE MESSENGER include:

  • Best Conservation Film, Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, 2015
  • Top Ten Audience Award, Hot Docs 2015
  • Special Jury Award, Visions of Nature/Voices of Nature Environmental Film Festival 2016
  • Special Mention for Best Documentary, CinemAmbiente, Italy 2015
  • Best Environmental Film Prize, Festival de l’Oiseau et de la Nature, Abbeville Cedex/France 2016
  • Winner: Best of Fest, International Wildlife Film Festival Missoula, Montana 2016
  • Winner: Best Theatrical Feature, International Wildlife Film Festival Missoula, Montana 2016
  • Nominated for Best Cinematography in a Feature Documentary, Canadian Screen Awards 2016
  • Nominated for Best Editing in Feature Documentary, Canadian Cinema Editors Award 2016

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

www.theMessengerDoc.com

To find out how the stunning footage of songbirds in flight was achieved, read Director Su Rynard’s blog post and view a behind-the-scenes video.

For a press kit,  still photography, or to book an interview with the filmmakers or any film participants, please contact Jesse Bondar (jesse.bondar@dotdotdash.ca) (416) 312-0428 or Joanne Jackson (joanne@songbirdsos.com)  (416) 801-1118.

Produced with support from the Ontario Media Development Corporation Film Fund, CBC, ARTE, Canal D and the participation of the Rogers Documentary Fund, Canada Media Fund, CNC, Telefilm International Co-production office, Rogers Telefund, Procirep, Angoa and the Documentary Organization of Canada.  Special thanks to the Canadian Film Centre Documentary Program, NFB, David J. Woods Productions, Hot Docs Deal Maker, Sunnyside of the Doc. International Sales Agent: ZED American Distributor: Kino Lorber, Canadian Distribution: SongbirdSOS Productions Inc. Promotion and  Marketing Assistance by Telefilm Canada.

About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. We are Canada’s trusted source of news, information and Canadian entertainment. Deeply rooted in communities all across the country, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight aboriginal languages. We also provide international news and information from a uniquely Canadian perspective.

Choose The Messenger Impact Campaign on Giving Tuesday!

You have the power to make a difference for birds and people on Giving Tuesday  Dec. 1.  By choosing Bird Studies Canada  and The Messenger Impact Campaign you will increase awareness about the serious declines of songbirds, and inspire others to take action for the environment and bird conservation.

Birds are environmental indicators and The Messenger offers the opportunity for dialogue and action on the issues raised by the film.  Screenings of The Messenger are now happening all around the world, and everywhere we go people are moved by the film and inspired to take action – for birds, for our eco-system, and for human kind.

 In Canada we are at a critical stage. We are ready to launch a nation wide screening tour, and need your support to make it happen.  Will you help us raise the funds we need to run a successful impact campaign and spread the important message of The Messenger?  Your contribution today  ensures more Canadians from coast to coast can experience the film. Your support also helps to generate the tools and resources we’ll need to empower people to take action for birds. 

Your actions are a vital component of change, and it’s through collective effort that we’ll make the biggest difference.

You can make a secure charitable donation on Bird Studies Canada’s Giving Tuesday webpage.  Please include ‘The Messenger” in the comment box.

If you live in the US or another country, we appreciate contributions to the International Outreach Campaign via Indiegogo crowdfunding.

We were very lucky to film this Golden-winged warbler in Central America. Golden-winged Warblers have declined sharply and now have one of the smallest populations of any bird not on the endangered species list. The North American Breeding Bird Survey estimates an overall decline of 76 percent.
CostaRica_GoldWingedWarbler

Kino Lorber releasing THE MESSENGER theatrically in the USA

Kino Lorber Acquires all U.S. Rights to The Messenger; Winner of Best Conservation Program at Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and an Audience Favorite at Hot Docs

Sets U.S. Theatrical Release for Friday, December 4, 2015

Su Rynard’s environmental documentary reveals the demise of the world’s songbird population; leaves audiences with a profound appreciation for the billions of birds with whom we share our communities and planet

“Never loses sight of the winged tunesters’ sheer beauty, or their emotional and symbolic pull as perceived intermediaries between the earthly and spiritual.”              The Hollywood Reporter

NEW YORK, NY – Tuesday, October 13, 2015 – Kino Lorber has acquired all U.S. rights to THE MESSENGER, a new documentary by award-winning filmmaker Su Rynard ( Kardia, Dream Machine)  The film chronicles the struggle of songbirds worldwide to survive in turbulent environmental conditions brought about by humans and argues that their demise will signify the crash of the global ecosystem, akin to the disappearance of honey bees and the melting of the glaciers. Beautiful slow motion photography illustrates the power and beauty of these delicate winged creatures that have been praised and eulogized across cultures and throughout time.

THE MESSENGER, which was produced by SongbirdSOS Productions Inc. and Films à Cinq/ARTE, was acquired at the Hot Docs International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere and was named one of the festival’s top 3 audience favorites. Last week it won the coveted prize for Best Conservation Program at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and today it won honorable mention at Cinema Ambiente Environmental Film Festival in Italy. This past weekend it had its U.S. West Coast Premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival in association with the San Francisco Green Film Festival.

The film will open in New York at Cinema Village on December 4, 2015 and Los Angeles at Laemmle Monicas on December 11, 2015, followed by a release in over 30 markets nationwide, and with a subsequent DVD and digital release next year. The film will be released on Kino Lorber’s Alive Mind Cinema label.

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The deal was negotiated by Elizabeth Sheldon, Senior Vice President, on behalf of Kino Lorber, with the team at SongbirdSOS Productions Inc. “The Messenger made an indelible imprint upon me. While movies about the demise of the bees are ubiquitous, I thought that the birds needed to be championed too,” quipped Ms. Sheldon. Su Rynard comments, “Kino Lorber has done a masterful job bringing films about urgent issues to the public and we are excited to have this opportunity to work closely with this experienced team.”

For thousands of years, songbirds were regarded by mankind as messengers from the gods. Today, these creatures – woven inextricably into the fabric of our environment – are vanishing at an alarming rate. Under threat from climate change, pesticides and more, populations of hundreds of species have dipped dramatically. As scientists, activists and bird enthusiasts investigate this phenomenon, amazing secrets of the bird world come to light for the first time in this acclaimed and visually thrilling documentary. Find out what’s killing our songbirds, and what can be done about it. As in ancient times, songbirds may once again be carrying a message to humans – one that we ignore at our own peril.

For other confirmed US dates and locations,   click here. 

About Alive Mind Cinema:

Specializing in documentaries in the areas of enlightened consciousness, secular spirituality and culture, Alive Mind Cinema seeks to provide audiences with intellectually provocative films that deliver the “aha” response of a transformative experience. Learn more at alivemindcinema.com.

About Kino Lorber: 

With a library of 1,000 titles, Kino Lorber Inc. has been a leader in independent art house distribution for over 30 years, releasing over 25 films per year theatrically under its Kino Lorber, Kino Classics, and Alive Mind Cinema banners, including five Academy Award® nominated films in the last seven years. In addition, the company brings over 70 titles each year to the home entertainment market with DVD and Blu-ray releases under its five house brands, distributes a growing number of third party labels, and is a direct digital distributor to all major platforms including iTunes, Netflix, HULU, Amazon, Vimeo, Fandor and others.

PHOTOS/POSTER FOR THE MESSENGER:
http://songbirdsos.com/press-room/press-kit/

PRESS CONTACT
Adam J. Segal
The 2050 Group – Publicity
(202) 422-4673 – Cell
(646) 202-1612 – New York Office
adam@the2050group.com
www.the2050group.com

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