The Bird Show

“The Bird Show,” designed and printed by Jean Cozzens

“The Bird Show,” designed and printed by Jean Cozzens

That flock of birds outside your early-morning window has been singing for weeks now, waking you up from your summertime slumber with their chirping calls. “We want Bird Films,” they sing. “We want Bird Films With Live Soundtracks! We want Bird Films about Birdwatchers! We Want Bird Films featuring the Not-So-Extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker! We Want Hand-Painted Bird Films Made by Russians in the 1920s That Use Dead Birds as Puppets!” Well, we at Magic Lantern have heard that song (over and over again), and we’ve responded by bringing three lovely 16mm films to the silver screen. This time we’ve got live music, 2 out of 3 FILMMAKERS IN PERSON, and special posters with movable parts…

Featuring: Voice of the Nightingale by Wladyslaw Starewicz (13:00, 16mm, 1923), The Pattern of Ritual by Xander Marro (8:00, 16mm, 2005), The Birdpeople by Michael Gitlin (61:00, 16mm, 2004)


Voice of the Nightingale by Wladyslaw Starewicz (13:00, 16mm, 1923) An early pioneer in the art of stop-motion puppet animation, Starewicz had a particular knack for bringing dead insects and birds back to life. This skill is on display in all of its hand-tinted glory in this 1923 adaptation of an Eastern European folktale, in which the song of the Nightingale influences the dreams of its live-action listener (played by Starewicz’s own daughter)…

The Pattern of Ritual by Xander Marro (IN PERSON) (8:00, 16mm, 2005) Providence’s favorite daughter returns to Magic Lantern with her newest movie-with-live-soundtrack extravaganza. In the immortal words of Pee-Wee Herman in the movie Back to the Beach, “Don’t you know about the Bird? Well, everybody’s heard that the Bird is the Word. Bird, Bird, Bird is the Word.”

The Birdpeople by Michael Gitlin (IN PERSON) (61:00, 16mm, 2004) 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.