Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.
— REBECCA SOLNIT

To Teach a Bird to Fly

To Teach a Bird to Fly is an experimental documentary-fiction film that explores bird extinction and climate change through a fictionalized story told from the perspective of the future.

A woman relates events from the past – today’s world – when her grandmother worked as a foster parent to a critically endangered bird, the Northern Bald Ibis. The film follows the Waldrapp project in Germany, where a young woman (the narrator’s future grandmother) helps breed and hand-raise the birds. She spends all her time with the birds as their foster parent, teach them to migrate by following a light aircraft across the Alps to their wintering grounds in Tuscany, Italy.

The film highlights this process as a locus of hope, not just for the future of the Ibis, but for the future of the environment and the planet. The scripted narration is based on interviews with the foster parent and other staff at the Waldrapp project, but projected some 80 years into the future as stories passed down from one generation to another. The narrator recalls stories her grandmother told about the surprising bond she experienced with the birds. By “looking back at the present” the story connects the endangered bird species to the wider context of climate change, species extinction, and the future of our planet. 

To Teach a Bird to Fly imagines a future where the relationship between humans and nonhuman species is not one based on exploitation, but on co-habitation and collaboration. The film turns the predominant dystopic climate change and extinction narratives upside down, and replaces them with a very differently imagined future. By doing so it gives us a glimpse into a world changed for the better, and offers us reason for hope – and action – in the present.

The film is currently in production, with an estimated completion date in early 2020.

Written and directed by Minna Rainio & Mark Roberts - rainioroberts.com
Produced by Flatlight Creative House - flatlight.fi

 

To Teach a Bird to Fly
2020 (forthcoming)
single-screen video
20:00 (approx)

 

written & directed by
minna rainio & mark roberts

producer
maria gullsten

director of photography
ilmari mannermaa 

produced by
Flatlight Creative House
flatlight.fi

funded by
Finnish Film Foundation / SES
YLE
AVEK

additional funding
KONE Foundation
Taike / Finnish Arts Promotion Board
Gold & Green