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.
"[W]hile, yes, this documentary is chronicling a problem for the animal kingdom, it’s really a heartening study of humans."
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."
"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."
Film Journal International
Makes a searing imprint on the psyche."
"An urgent reminder that immediate action is long past due. It’s going to make you angry. Very, very angry.”
“Flock to this...will warm your heart and attune your ear not only to the sounds of birds but also to this noble cause."
“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.”
DC Metro Theater Arts
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
Destination: Ponza, Italy