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 also a surprise ending.
We’re screening the film tonight at the NoHo, tomorrow at the Royal, and December 1-7 in Glendale. Irving will participate in Q&As tonight at the NoHo, tomorrow at the Royal, and after the December 2 & 3 screenings at the Glendale. Joe Lindner, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Preservation Officer, will moderate the Q&As on Nov. 29th and 30th. Screenwriter Elliott DiGuiseppi will moderate the Q&As on Dec. 2 and 3.
Irving recently wrote a piece about her film for Talkhouse. A key passage about her method: