dir. Michael Gitlin, US, 2004, 16mm, 61 min.
A loosely-knit community
of birdwatchers in New York’s Central Park; ornithologists with their specimen
collections at a dozen different natural history museums; bird banders gingerly
extracting birds from mist nets and collecting data in upstate New York; six
people searching for a nearly extinct bird in a Louisiana bayou: these are the
strands that are woven together by The Birdpeople as it documents a passionate fixation. Part cultural
history, part self-reflexive anthropology, by turns humorous and elegiac, The Birdpeople examines the pleasures
and problems of looking and naming, and investigates the social construction of
nature, centered on ornithology and its amateur counterpart, bird watching.
dir. David Rimmer, US, 1969, 16mm, 12 min.
An experimental film
haunted by a ghostly seagull, Rimmer’s film is a meditation on natural decay
and the instability of the image.
Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist
dir. Peter Greenaway, UK, 1979, 16mm, 41 min.
One man’s Hell is another
man’s Heaven in what has been described by film critic Tony Rayns as “one of
the best British movies of the 1970s.” A Walk Through H traverses a series of 92 maps—painted by Greenaway
himself—that guide a deceased ornithologist into the afterlife. Reoccurring
motifs of meticulous detail, the desire for flight, and Greenaway’s notorious
alter-ego Tulse Luper culminate in one of the experimental maestro’s most
fascinating and memorable journeys.