An uncommon bond between man and nature is the focus of Judy Irving's wonderful and informative documentary, THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL. The film follows Mark Bittner, an unemployed aging hippie, who lives off the kindness of strangers in the titular San Francisco neighborhood. His life takes on new meaning when he starts feeding a flock of wild Conures, a breed of parrot noted for its green body and cherry-red head. Native to Argentina, the birds soon feel comfortable enough to feed while perched all over Mr. Bittner. Being outcasts who yearn to remain free, a mutual respect is born between them. Daily routine soon leads to growing crowds of curious passersby, as Bittner becomes something of a local celebrity. Based on his up-close observations, Bittner gains some keen insight into the behavior of individual birds, giving them names. The resulting portraits of Connor, Mingus, Olive, Pushkin, Picasso, Sophie, and Tupelo prove that these amazing creatures deserve star credit in their own right. WILD PARROTS features some incredible close-ups, rare in-depth glimpses into the unique and often amusing habits and activities of one flock of parrots, and a surprise ending.
Theatrical Release: FEBRUARY 11, 2005 (NY)
"[An] affectionate film....By the end of the movie, you might even begin reconsidering your relationship with the animal kingdom and questioning the distance you put between yourself and nonhuman species." - 02/11/2005 New York Times, p.E13
"[I]n watching the birds and man with an affectionate, curious eye, the filmmaker builds a story of surprising emotional resonance." - 03/29/2005 Entertainment Weekly, p.80
"Mark Bittner is calm, intelligent, confiding, wise and well-spoken. You would be happy to count him as your friend." - 04/01/2005 Chicago Sun-Times, p.31
"A nature film-maker by trade, Irving films the birds at close quarters, and these vivid, characterful close-ups act like illustrations to the intimate backstory that Bittner assigns each parrot." - 01/01/2006 Sight and Sound, p.83