The Messenger Spreads Its Wings and goes on a Road Trip!

by Joanne Jackson

It is a very exciting fall season for The Messenger.   We have just come back from a  fall road trip.   We also just got word about two more awards and another nomination.  There are over 40 fall screenings booked, with more pending, and we’ve had some new media coverage.  We are now taking pre-orders on-line and preparing to release DVD’s and Blu rays, so our Canadian office is hopping.  The full impact of The Messenger’s film release is certainly not known yet,  but we know that outreach and awareness of the pressures facing songbird populations and the potential impact of bird declines on the environment is being recognized by more and more people.  Many have said the film is ‘transformative’ for them.  The potential for our film to make a real difference in society’s conservation attitudes is enhanced by every grassroots discussion inspired by the movie.

llp_8468

Being on the road with the film is exciting, encouraging and sometimes exhausting. There is a lot of prep work involved and we usually end up working 24-7, but it is really rewarding to interact with local audiences.   We can’t attend every screening so we really appreciate organizations like universities, colleges, Bird Studies Canada, the film societies and conservation groups who amplify our work by hosting screening events and participating in Q and A’s.

 

dreff-su-rynard-with-group-sept-2016

Su Rynard with audience in Dominican Republic at DREFF

 

 

Director Su Rynard made a quick but wonderful trip to the Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival (DREFF) in mid-September, then went to a special screening at Fleming College in the Kawarthas. (not too far from her cottage).

 

 

 

 

This weekend Su is winging her way to West Virginia, where she is a keynote speaker at the  The American Conservation Film Festival (Shepherdstown, West Virginia).

The Messenger is also being featured at The Antigonish Film Festival in Nova Scotia and The Cinema Verde Environmental Festival in St. Augustine, Florida this weekend. (Cinema  Verde has already acknowledged the film with it’s 2016 Whistle Blower Award.)laurel2016_whistleblower

 

Film participant Michael Mesure took time from FLAP’s busy bird rescue work in Toronto to head north to Pefferlaw, with  Producer Diane Woods to attend a special fundraising screening event for a wildlife refuge called Shades of Hope.

 

Social media and community outreach is critical  for us to let audiences know about screenings.  We could not do the outreach work we do without our subscribers and Facebook Fans support and the dedication of our screening co-ordinator Cayley James.

cayleyjames

 

 

Cayley liaises with community groups and looks after a lot of the event details. Thanks Cayley!

At the end of September, I went to some Ontario screening events  in Belleville, North Bay, Sudbury and New Liskeard. More about that under the mini-tour heading below.

White Thumbnail 150x150

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Awards

pariscience-images

nbff-colour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On October 11, at the Pariscience Awards Ceremony in Paris, France, the Messenger was awarded the prestigious Prix Buffon from the  ‘Jury Bioversité’.  The award  was presented to our French co-production partners Films a Cinq and ARTE France.

After the film screened at the North Bay Film Festival, the audience poll voted The Messenger as the Favourite Feature Documentary. 

Earlier this year we received the 2016 Carl Nunn Media and Conservation Award from Ontario Nature. The film was recognized because it “raised awareness of the mass depletion of songbird populations around the world.”  Diane Woods and Su Rynard were there to pick up the award.

The Messenger is currently  nominated in two categories at the Dutch International Science Film Festival. Categories:  The NTR Audience Award and the Youth Jury Award.

Stay tuned to see if we have more announcements in November. 

 

Mini-Screening Tour

Before I left to head out on a road trip for a Northern Ontario mini-tour,  The Messenger played for one night at the fabulous Empire Theatre in Belleville.  Jerry Archer from KX96 Radio moderated the September 26 event and I was joined by Peter Fuller, Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory and John Hirsch, Quinte Conservation for a Q and A following the film.

 

Then, on Friday September 30, I started the scenic drive north from the Toronto area.  My first destination was Sudbury, and the drive up hwy 69 with the changing fall colours was spectacular.  The Messenger opened that evening at Sudbury’s newly renovated Imagine Downtown Movie Lounge.  Phil Strong, our composer and sound designer who is a Sudbury native was in the city visiting his family, so it was great he was able to join me for the Q and A.  David Pearson and Chris Blomme from Laurentian University came out to participate in the discussion too.  Thanks to Laurentian Film Studies Prof Hoi Cheu for setting up the sound system and bringing  student volunteers to  help with the event.  A special shout out to the Giles and Strong family members who made it opening night and Lorraine Dupuis who put up movie posters for us.

 

Earlier that same week, I was interviewed by CBC Morning North radio host Markus Schwabe.  You can listen the to that interview here.

img_20160930_191037-downtown-movie-lounge

jj-and-phil-sudbury-mg_20160930_213736

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday October 1, I participated in a panel with other industry producers at the North Bay Film Festival about  ‘getting your film into film festivals’.  The whole thing was streamed live on Facebook, so that was a new experience for me!   It was very encouraging to hear the other producers talk about the great opportunities for filmmaking that are taking place in northern Ontario.  Canadore College’s digital cinematography professor Dave Clement moderated the panel. If you scroll down on our Facebook page to Oct. 1 posts, you can watch it there.

nbff-colour

 

 

 

llp_8439

llp_8448

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On October 2nd  we had over 160 people at the festival screening of The Messenger in the impressive theatre at the Capital Centre in North Bay.  Moderator Adam Contant from KISS FM Radio,  introduced me and the film. Afterwards Paul Smylie from Nipissing University and Richard Tafel from the Nipissing Naturalists Club joined us for a Q and A. We had a number of educators who made the trek out on that rainy Sunday morning to see the film, so thanks to them and everyone else for being there to ask such thoughtful questions.

 

llp_8429

 

Just before the screening I was interviewed by Linda Holmes of CTV and a clip made it on the Northern Ontario evening news.

When festival co-ordinator Holly Cunningham later informed me  that The Messenger was the top audience documentary choice for the festival, I was a bit stunned. What a lovely surprise and wonderful way to enhance our road trip!

 

 

 

Final Stop on the Tour

 

jj-img_20161005_090610_panorama

Proud to be showing at the Messenger at the Empire Theatre in New Liskeard,  part of the City of Temiskaming Shores

 

Although I have worked in the tv/film industry for over 20 years,  and produced many hours of Television programs,   The Messenger is just the third independent documentary I’ve produced.  It is the first  feature film I’m involved with to have theatrical release, so I was really pleased to wind up the mini-Northern Ontario tour in my hometown of New Liskeard. I still have family in the area, so it was wonderful to share the film with the local community at the Empire Theatre in its full theatrical glory on October 3rd.  Drew Gauley of the Temiskaming Screening Room film society kicked off the event. After the screening we had another interesting Q and A discussion.  The town is located in the ‘Little Clay Belt’ agricultural area of Northern Ontario and there are many farms nearby, so the issue of ‘pesticides’ and ‘free roaming cats’ were hot topics.

nl-a-messenger-gang_edited-1

L-R Glenn Scott, Bruce Murphy, Joanne Jackson, Mike Werner, Terry Phillips. Photo by Sue Nielsen, The Temiskaming Speaker

 

The Q and A was moderated by Temiskaming Secondary School science teacher Glenn Scott.

I was joined by Bruce Murphy and Mike Werner from The Hilliardtown Marsh Conservation Centre and Terry Phillips, District Director of the Grain Farmers of Ontario.  Prior to the event,  we had some wonderful local media coverage too, thanks to a Twenty questions article in the  Temiskaming Speaker by reporter Sue Neilsen  and  a Morning chat interview facilitated by CJTT  station manager Gail Moore and  Radio host Jack Morin.

Check out the commercial they made for the film!   Just click on the audio file below.

More Campus screenings are currently taking place, and more are being booked.  Find out where & how here.  Educators and libraries can now order educational copies too.  (with public performance rights) in the new Educators section of the Messenger’s website at www.theMessengerdoc.com

To read additional media coverage about The Messenger check out the  press section of this website. 

Special thanks to Mary Jackson, Darlene Jackson, Jennifer Gravel, Shelley Jackson and Patti Dubois (my sisters and sister-in-law) for helping to promote the screening and assisting me at the screenings.

jen-empire-nlimg_20161005_090458

Jennifer Gravel in front of the Empire Theatre

Thanks to Telefilm Canada for providing  marketing and promotion assistance for The Messenger.

 

If you would like to contact me about the film, please email joanne@songbirdsos.com

 

The Messenger Canadian Campus tour kicks off

Toronto,  ON (September 21, 2016)

The award-winning documentary The Messenger is teaming up with Bird Studies Canada to tour Canadian University and college campuses this fall.  The tour kicks off this evening at Dalhousie University in Halifax.  Each screening will be followed by a discussion led by local conservation and biologists. For more information on campus locations, dates and times, see http://songbirdsos.com/screenings/canadian-screenings/

Confirmed campus locations and dates include:

  • September 21 – Dalhousie, Halifax, NS Hosted by professor Cindy Staicer.
  • September 27- McMaster University – Hamilton, ON Hosted by Instructor Greg Zilderbrant
  • September 28 -Ottawa University – Ottawa, ON Hosted by Professor Scott Simon
  • September 29 – University of Saskatchewan, SK – with Professor Christy Morrissey and Kiel Drake from Bird Studies Canada
  • October 2 – Mount Allison, Sackville, NB, followed by Q+A with Bird Studies Canada and Environment Canada
  • October 2 – Fleming College,  Lindsay, ON  hosted by the City of Kawartha Lakes Environmental Advisory Committee with Director Su Rynard and FLAP’s Michael Mesure in attendance
  • October 5/6 University of Victoria, followed by Q+A with Dr. David Bradley of Bird Studies Canada
  • October 21-23 The Antigonish International Film Festival, NS – Home of St.Francis Xavier Univeristy
  • October 25 The University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC followed by a Q+A with Dr. David Bradley of Birds Studies Canada
  • November 9 Queen’s University, Kingston ON
  • November 9 The University of Guelph, ON followed by a Q+A with Dr. Ryan Norris and others
  • November 10 – The University of Windsor, ON
  • November 10 McGill University, Montreal, QC, presented by Le Nichoir
  • November 15 Lakeland College, Vermilion, AB
  • Date TBA – The University of Western Ontario, ON
  • Date TBA – The University of Regina, SK
  • Date TBA – York University, Toronto, ON with Bridget Stutchbury

We are delighted to be introducing The Messenger to students and educators across the country” says Director Su Rynard.  “Since its premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Festival, The Messenger has wowed audiences the world over at more than 30 international film festivals and  played in over 100 Cinemas. We are really pleased the film has been so well received.  We hope it is will inspire people to make a difference for not just birds, but the planet too.”

 The Messenger is an international story with high stakes global consequences. The film argues that the decline of songbirds is due to human activity, signalling an uncertain shift in an already fragile ecosystem while warning the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own.

A Hot Docs 2015 ‘Top Ten Audience Favourite’ The Messenger has received several awards including The Best Conservation Program from The Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival plus a Canadian Cinema nomination for Best Cinematography in a Feature Documentary and Ontario Nature’s Carl Nunn Impact Award.

20151126_the-messenger-qa_0017

Filmed on three continents, The Messenger features a number of Canadian scientists including biologist Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, (Author Silence of the Songbirds and Professor, York University) Erin Bayne, (Biology Professor, University of Alberta)  and Dr. Christy Morrissey (Avian Ecotoxicologist, University of Saskatchewan) and citizen scientist Michael Mesure from FLAP. More on the film participants here. http://songbirdsos.com/featuring/

Without a doubt, The Messenger is the most outstanding film I’ve seen on birds. The fact that it is so strongly science-based, so emotive in its pitch, so beautiful in its design it captivates me and everyone who has had a chance to see it.” – Steven Price, President, Bird Studies Canada

A free study guide will soon be available for educators who wish to use The Messenger in classroom discussions.

Campus organizations wishing to request a screening as part of the tour should send request a screening here.

To book an interview or request an appearance by the filmmakers or the participating  scientists, contact:

Joanne Jackson, Producer, SongbirdbirdSOS Productions Inc.,

Email:  joanne@songbirdsos.com

Phone +1  416 801 1118

For US inquiries please contact Jeff Tamblyn at Kino Lorber. Jeff Tamblyn (edu@kinolorber.com) 212-629-6880

For more information visit www.TheMessengerDoc.com

 

JOIN THE MESSENGER ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

 
Facebook
— https://www.facebook.com/SongbirdSOSfilm/

Twitter — @themessengerdoc

#BirdFriendly

***

90 MIN  English,  (or English with French subtitles)
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 a Canada/France co-production
Produced by SongbirdSOS Productions and Films à Cinq/ARTE

Produced with participation from the Ontario Media Development Corporation Film Fund,
CBC, ARTE, Canal D and the Rogers Documentary Fund, Canada Media Fund, CNC,

Telefilm International Co-production office, Rogers Telefund, Procirep-Angoa
and the Documentary Organization of Canada.
Developed with the assistance of the CFC-NFB Documentary Program, OMDC,

National Film Board of Canada & David J. Woods Productions.

US Distribution Kino Lorber, International Sales ZED

Distributed in Canada by SongbirdSOS Productions Inc.

Marketing and promotion assistance by Telefilm Canada.

Special thanks to First Weekend Club, Women Make Movies, Hot Docs Deal Maker,

Sunnyside of the Doc and National Outreach partner Bird Studies Canada.

The Messenger Action Alert: Help Protect Birds from Window Collisions.

Ontario:  An urgent message from Michael Mesure and FLAP Canada.  You Can Make a Difference for Songbirds!  

Millions of birds, including species at risk, migrate to and breed in the Northern Ontario Boreal Forest. These birds help fight climate change by protecting this landscape. They do so by consuming insects, pollinating plants and distributing seeds.

Our built up urban environment is in their migratory path. Countless birds die in daytime collisions with windows. In Toronto alone, it is estimated that between one to ten million birds die from window collisions each year.

IMG_0640

A section of a progressive law in Ontario — the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) — that would help protect migratory birds from window collisions is at risk of being nullified. In 2013, an Ontario court upheld the EPA to protect birds from collisions with reflective windows. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is proposing to withdraw its regulatory responsibility to protect birds under the EPA and replace it with voluntary action from owners and managers of commercial buildings.

FLAP Canada has worked tirelessly to protect birds from building collisions since 1993 and knows from experience that voluntarism does not motivate window retrofits on the part of property owners and managers.

The Messenger Documentary supports this important initiative. Please send in your comments to the MOECC (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change) by December 4, 2015.

For the submission link & more info, visit:  http://www.flap.org/action_alert.php

— Special thanks for this blog post from Michael Mesure, Executive Director, Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada

FLAP ON Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/742z47o, FLAP ON  Twitter: https://twitter.com/FLAPCanada

Ottawa Citizens Start FLAP Bird Rescue Initiative

FLAP. Ottawa. fall colour. dead birds Michael Mesure, founder and Executive Director of the FLAP bird rescue organization, which is featured in SongbirdSOS says that many citizens of the city of Ottawa (Canada’s capital city) were shocked and troubled when a flock of approximately 30 Bohemian Waxwings collided with a glass walkway at their City Hall last year.  The sudden and public death of these beautiful birds drew a frenzy of media attention and the interest of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists Birds Committee.

One member in particular, Anouk Hoedeman, was concerned by this event and started on the search for a solution. Although it is rare for an entire flock of birds to hit as in this incident, it is altogether too common for birds to collide with building windows.   It is estimated that up to 1 billion birds die from window collisions each year in North America alone.

Most people have had an experience at home, at the cottage or even at work where they have witnessed a bird dying in this way. These experiences are upsetting and scary, often because people do not realize why birds collide with windows or what can be done to prevent it.

The sheer scope of this issue was brought to the attention of Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl at Nature Canada with the release of a series of scientific papers released by Environment Canada in Fall 2013 on the major human causes of bird mortality.

Anouk and Sarah’s separate searching lead them both to FLAP.  (Fatal Light Awareness Program) Over the years, FLAP Canada has received calls from the Ottawa region about birds that have been found, but Mesure knew something was different this time around.  Anouk and Sarah were put in touch and started meeting with others who were interested in finding a solution, including staff at the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre.

In SongbirdSOS, Michael Mesure states that due to a recent precedent setting court case  in Toronto, it is now illegal for buildings to knowingly attract and cause the death of birds in Ontario.    He says “We’re excited about this new wing of FLAP volunteers gathering in Ottawa so they can make a difference for local and migrating bird populations.  Ottawa is a dynamic  growing city on the banks of an important river system which is a natural migratory bird pathway.   With the increase in new building development , incidents of bird collisions have increased.   It is not surprising that environmental concerns are arising because of this too.’’

This past spring, Anouk and another volunteer, Cynthia Paquin, began daily patrols in the downtown core of the nation’s capital.  They found that the majority of collisions occurred after sunrise, with more birds hitting when it was bright and sunny. Their first season of patrols confirmed a problem with window strikes, so Anouk, Sarah, Cynthia and others began earnest efforts to establish a local FLAP program. This fall, they began building a more solid base of patrollers and drivers to help their efforts.FLAP.Ottawa volunteers

To date the Ottawa Wing of FLAP has recorded more than 300 birds representing about 60 species, including 20 warbler species and threatened species such as Wood Thrush and Canada Warbler. Species collected range from Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to a surprising Barred Owl.

Although many of the birds are found dead, Ottawa Wing volunteers are always thrilled to be able to rescue a stunned or injured bird and have managed to rescue dozens of warblers, kinglets, Brown Creepers, sparrows, woodpeckers and more. They already have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FLAPOttawa and on it they have been posting some successful bird rescue videos.

As word spreads about FLAP volunteer efforts in Ottawa,  more calls are coming in about injured and dead birds from office workers and homeowners. The group hopes the attention will get more people involved in this critical bird conservation initiative in Ottawa.  You can contact them at Ottawa@flap.org or 613-216-8999.  http://www.flap.org/ottawa.php

If you want to find out when the SongbirdSOS film featuring the bird rescue work of FLAP will be coming to a movie screen near you, please sign up for our newsletter.

Photos courtesy of Anouk Hoedeman