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.

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.

Messenger-Poster-thumbnail

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

A Coffee Primer for Birds & People

People may tell you “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” But when it comes to coffee, it is possible to have it both ways.

Superb coffee can be grown by using sustainable agricultural methods that provides a home for birds, free labour for farmers, and a delicious bird friendly product for coffee drinkers around the globe.

Our documentary team filmed at the CATIE Tropical Agricultural Research Centre where ornithologist Alejandra Martinez-Salinas showed us the benefits of pesticide-free shade grown coffee. The diversity of shade trees provide a natural habitat for migratory songbirds and the birds’ appetite for the destructive coffee berry borer, provides an alternative to agro-chemicals. This is truly a win-win situation for us all.

To learn more about “bird friendly” coffee we have created a short web exclusive video featuring Robert Rice from The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington DC.  Robert travels around the world certifying bird friendly coffee farms.  He explains why we should all consider bird friendly coffee as a wise consumer option.

Help us finish the film and save a songbird at the same time.

Want to try bird friendly coffee?  We have certified bird friendly coffee available as a perk for making a contribution to our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for our feature film THE MESSSENGER.

In Canada you can purchase bird friendly coffee from http://www.birdsandbeans.ca/

In the USA: http://www.birdsandbeans.com/

Here is a handy map to help you located coffee roasters around the world who roast certified bird Friendly coffee. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratorybirds/coffee/map-of-roasters.cfm

CostaRica_Woodthrush_tongue

Special thanks to Ernesto Carmen and the Café Cristina farm in Costa Rica, where in one day we filmed more than a dozen different species of migratory songbirds including Golden-winged warbler, Wood Thrush, Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Wilson Warbler and many more.

Learn more about bird friendly coffee here.

 

 

THE MESSENGER Picture Lock: 120 hours of footage – One year later

It’s been almost two years since camera’s starting rolling, and we have now reached a milestone with The Messenger. Picture lock!

The process began with editor Carole Larsen in January of 2014, together we confronted more than 120 hours of  footage that we had shot all over the world. We had two different camera teams, and four specialized songbird photographers, and after a year of travel we had a wealth of footage. The process of crafting a compelling story was a daunting task indeed. Carole’s first assembly was six hours long! Meanwhile in France, at Films A Cinq, Sally Blake focused in on our 2 x 1 hour International TV version.

Producer Martin de la Fouchardière, Producer and Co-writer Sally Blake, and me (middle) Director Su Rynard.

Producer Martin de la Fouchardière, Producer and Co-writer Sally Blake, and me (middle) Director Su Rynard.

In the fall we began work with Eamonn O’Connor and consulting editor Ricardo Acosta C.C.E. Together we fine-tuned the documentary feature narrative, and ultimately developed an instinctive, nuanced unfolding story. We are very pleased with the results and believe we have a film that we all can be very proud of.

(centre) Eamonn O'Conner Editor (right) Ricardo Acosta C.C.E & (left) Su Rynard Director

(centre) Eamonn O’Conner Editor (right) Ricardo Acosta C.C.E & (left) Su Rynard Director

Now we move forward into a new phase of sound editing and music, visual fx, titles, graphics, media conforms and colour corrects — all the things that need to be done to finish the film. Our goal is to have the film ready for the big screen by mid April.

The  title “The MESSENGER” is inspired by the voice over in the opening sequence: “In ancient times humans looked to the flights and songs of birds to foretell the future. Today once more, the birds have something to tell us.”

Check out our fabulous new logo by Toronto graphic designer Jenny Armour

.TheMessenger-Campaign-Card-Option1

The MESSENGER is an international treaty co-production between Canada and France.

Produced by SongbirdSOS Productions Inc. and Films a Cinq.  International Distribution by ZED.

Stutchbury Tracks Tiny Songbird Migration with Geolocator

Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, Ornithologist and author (Silence of the Songbirds) was one of the first scientists to use light logger geolocators to track tiny songbirds. Watch this exclusive SongbirdSOS video of Bridget retrieving a geolocator from a Hooded Warbler for the first time.

Bridget told us how it came about…

I started tracking migratory songbirds in 2007, after discovering that light-logger geolocators had been miniaturized to only 1.5g by the British Antarctic Survey.  For the first time ever it was possible to attach this device to songbirds and, if they returned the next year, re-construct their start-to-finish migration routes and timing.  At this size it was only safe to track relatively large songbirds that weighed over 50 grams but most songbirds weigh far less than 50 grams.  As with any technology, the geolocators were soon made even smaller, allowing researchers to track smaller songbirds.

In 2010 I had the good fortune to test the smallest tags at that existed at that time (0.6g). The tags were built by James Fox from the British Antarctic Survey. I wanted to know if it was possible to track warblers, which typically weigh less than 15g.  In the spring of 2010, after receiving permission from the US Banding Lab to do a pilot study, I caught five Hooded Warblers at my long-term study site in northwestern Pennsylvania. It was with some trepidation that I gave these little birds a relatively large piece of luggage to carry for the next year. I followed them carefully over the next months to make sure they were healthy.

Bridget and Student

You could not tell that a male Hooded Warbler was carrying a geolocator unless you happened to get a really good look at his back.  They sang vigorously, chased other males, mated with their females, and all five males successfully raised a family.  That August, just before they were about to depart for their winter-time migration, I recaptured three of the males and I was pleased to notice that their weight was healthy and that they were moulting their feathers normally.

Then came the long nine month wait.  The next year two of the five males returned to re-claim their territories in May and seemed no worse for the wear.  Amazingly, Director Su Rynard  and her SongbirdSOS documentary crew was there when we captured the first warbler ever tracked with a geolocator! After analyzing the light data I discovered that this bird, 2430-41205, had flown south to the Florida panhandle, across the Gulf of Mexico, and spent the winter in central Nicaragua.  In spring, he flew up to the Yucatan peninsula, across the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River valley back to his exact same 100m x 100m territory in Pennsylvania.  Even after tracking several hundred songbirds, I still find it amazing that such a small bird can travel so far and with pinpoint accuracy.

Banded Hooded Warbler

What become of this infamous bird? Bridget’s colleague Dr. Ron Mumme from nearby Allegheny College has been studying Hooded Warblers in her backyard forest ever since. He reports that this bird survived to make a second round-trip the next year and again nested successfully, although he has not been seen since.

The second Hooded Warbler Bridget tracked also wintered in Nicaragua and has nested on the same breeding territory every year since 2010. He was at least two years old when first banded, which means he’s flown the 7000 kilometre round-trip at least four times in his lifetime for a total of 28 000 kilometres!!  He wasn’t spotted in 2014, and a new male has laid claim to his territory.

Bridget reminds us that Aristotle believed that migratory swallows buried themselves in the mud over the winter like frogs.  In many ways that seems far more likely than a little 12 gram bird flying over half-way across the globe.