A film by Scott Crocker
World Premiere at Hot Docs – Toronto, Canada
May 6 – Cumberland – 9:45pm – World Premiere
May 8 – The ROM Theatre – 1:30pm – Repeat Screening
Below is Ghost Bird Preview: Mary Scott from YouTube
(Toronto – March 30, 2009) As everybody knows, The Bird is the Word! But when it comes to a phantom called the Ivory-billed woodpecker, 70 million birders can’t agree whether they’re still flying high or have become forever mothballed in the specimen drawers of museums. One thing is certain, the stakes of this disagreement couldn’t be higher. While millions of dollars are spent – and much angry hot air is expended – determining whether North America’s largest woodpecker has returned, other species are disappearing without a peep.
This and more is covered in Ghost Bird, a feature documentary by California director Scott Crocker about the controversial rediscovery of the Ivory-billed woodpecker, one that expresses a timely message about species extinction and the necessity of habitat preservation. However – with a soundtrack including The Pixies, The White Stripes and The Black Keys – this is not exactly a wildlife movie. For one thing, it challenges the conventional wisdom – fueled by media hype – that the Ivory-bill was rediscovered at all. Moreover, it exposes that four years and millions of dollars of searching has been paid for by robbing funds from efforts to preserve known endangered bird species.
Even before April, 2005, and a breathless media announcement by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the prestigious Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the Ivory-billed woodpecker had long been considered the Holy Grail by diehard birders who refused to believe it went extinct over 60 years ago. When scientists announced that the bird had been found in the swamps of eastern Arkansas, a nation celebrated the woodpecker’s resurrection – as did the citizens of nearby Brinkley who welcomed the flood of tourists to their down-and-out rural town. However, following the largest recovery effort ever undertaken for a lost species, and in excess of $30 million in funding, Ivory-bills remain as scarce as Bigfoot. And with the current rate of species extinction estimated at over more than 100 times the planet’s evolutionary average, salvation may be too late for more than just the Ivory-billed woodpecker.
Ghost Bird brings the Ivory-bill’s blurry rediscovery into focus, revealing our uneasy relationship with nature and the increasing uncertainty of our place within it. It digs into our psyche and asks whether our deep desire to see a creature returned from extinction is merely a state of denial, and a way to avoid paying our debt of damage to the ecosystem.
Also written and produced by Crocker, Ghost Bird is having its World Premiere as part of the World Showcase program of Toronto’s 2009 Hot Docs Festival. It features an original score by Canadian cellist Zoë Keating, alongside music by The Pixies, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Under Byen, Hazmat Modine, Sonny Terry and The Black Heart Procession.