Emptying the Skies

“Makes a searing imprint on the psyche." - Jen Chaney, The Dissolve

Emptying The Skies

Emptying The Skies

About the Film

Based on a widely republished New Yorker essay by best-selling novelist Jonathan Franzen, Emptying the Skies exposes the rampant poaching of migratory songbirds in southern Europe.  Songbird populations have been drastically declining for several decades, with a number of species facing imminent extinction. This poignant documentary explores the wonder of these tiny globe-trekking marvels, millions of which are unlawfully slaughtered each year for large sums on the black market, and follows the intrepid squad of pan-European bird-lovers waging a secret war against poachers, disrupting illegal trapping to free as many as possible.   

Embedding the filmmakers with their activist subjects, this year-long undertaking transports viewers right onto the front lines as poachers are confronted at critical migration pinch-points in Cyprus, France and Italy. A moving call to arms, Emptying the Skies chronicles a devastating environmental tragedy and the valiant journey of those risking their lives to stop it.
Director: Douglas Kass & Roger Kass

Reactions

"[W]hile, yes, this documentary is chronicling a problem for the animal kingdom, it’s really a heartening study of humans." - Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

Critics’ Pick! "Emptying the Skies performs a grand and aching act of love by telling its story with a power that enrages." - Amy Brady, Village Voice

"If you love birds-and who doesn't?-this passionate doc about the danger many of them face is as important as it is heartrending and infuriating." - David Noh, Film Journal International

“Makes a searing imprint on the psyche." Jen Chaney, The Dissolve

"An urgent reminder that immediate action is long past due. It’s going to make you angry. Very, very angry.” - Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star

“Flock to this...will warm your heart and attune your ear not only to the sounds of birds but also to this noble cause.- Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

“Beautifully illustrates the complex relationship between modern humanity and wild animals. A tight, thriller-like documentary.- Toronto Film Scene

“It’s The Cove for bird lovers.” - Terry Byrne, DC Metro Theater Arts

Awards & Festivals

  • Winner! Hamptons Film Festival 2013 - Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award
  • DOC NYC 2013 - Official Selection
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013 - Official Selection
  • San Francisco Green Film Festival 2013- Official Selection
  • Honorable Mention - Telluride MountainFilm Festival 2015 - Moving Mountains Prize

Cast & Crew

Featuring

Jonathan Franzen
Peter Berthold
Sergio Coen Tanugi
David Conlin

Crew

Director: Douglas Kass
Co-Director : Roger Kass
Producer: Roger Kass
Executive Producers: Jonathan Franzen, Andrea van Beuren
Editing: Michael Levine
Cinematography: Douglas Kass, Michael Tucker
Original Score: Marty Beller
Additional Music: Laurie Anderson

Technical Info

Production Year: 2013
Countries of Production: US
Languages: English
Running Time: 1h 17m
Screen Ratio: 1.85:1
Color: Yes

Emptying The Skies - Press Page

Hi Res Photos
For single image download (Open and Right-click to save to desktop)
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Emptying the Skies - 6

Awards & Festivals

  • Winner! Hamptons Film Festival 2013 - Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award
  • DOC NYC 2013 - Official Selection
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013 - Official Selection
  • San Francisco Green Film Festival 2013- Official Selection
  • Honorable Mention - Telluride MountainFilm Festival 2015 - Moving Mountains Prize

Reactions

"[W]hile, yes, this documentary is chronicling a problem for the animal kingdom, it’s really a heartening study of humans." - Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

Critics’ Pick! "Emptying the Skies performs a grand and aching act of love by telling its story with a power that enrages." - Amy Brady, Village Voice

"If you love birds-and who doesn't?-this passionate doc about the danger many of them face is as important as it is heartrending and infuriating." - David Noh, Film Journal International

“Makes a searing imprint on the psyche." Jen Chaney, The Dissolve

"An urgent reminder that immediate action is long past due. It’s going to make you angry. Very, very angry.” - Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star

“Flock to this...will warm your heart and attune your ear not only to the sounds of birds but also to this noble cause.- Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

“Beautifully illustrates the complex relationship between modern humanity and wild animals. A tight, thriller-like documentary.- Toronto Film Scene

“It’s The Cove for bird lovers.” - Terry Byrne, DC Metro Theater Arts

Detailed Film Info

Based on a widely republished New Yorker essay by best-selling novelist Jonathan Franzen, Emptying the Skies exposes the rampant poaching of migratory songbirds in southern Europe.  Songbird populations have been drastically declining for several decades, with a number of species facing imminent extinction. This poignant documentary explores the wonder of these tiny globe-trekking marvels, millions of which are unlawfully slaughtered each year for large sums on the black market, and follows the intrepid squad of pan-European bird-lovers waging a secret war against poachers, disrupting illegal trapping to free as many as possible.   

Embedding the filmmakers with their activist subjects, this year-long undertaking transports viewers right onto the front lines as poachers are confronted at critical migration pinch-points in Cyprus, France and Italy. A moving call to arms, Emptying the Skies chronicles a devastating environmental tragedy and the valiant journey of those risking their lives to stop it.

Trailer

Photos

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