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The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2004)

Cast: Mark Bittner, Ivan Stormgart, Ivan Stormgart, more...
Director: Judy Irving, Judy Irving
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: New Video Group
Genre: Documentary, Nature & Science , Quirky Characters
Languages: English
    see additional details...

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2004)
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 a surprise ending.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (Bonus Disc) (2004)
Special Features:
  • Updates
  • Outtakes
  • Mark and Judy Interview
  • Music Video
  • Short Films Christmas and Bait Shop
  • New Documentaries
  • Strictly for Parrots

Read GreenCine's exclusive interview with Mark Bittner and Judy Irving. "This isn't just for bird lovers," we emphasize in our "50 Best Documentaries" list. To those who haven't seen The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, it's a little difficult to explain our enthusiasm for a film that's also about how our lives can take radical, unexpected turns. Heather Johnson talks with director Judy Irving and the other subject of the film, Mark Bittner.

GreenCine Member Ratings

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2004)
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7.53 (181 votes)
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (Bonus Disc) (2004)
New Listadd to list
7.75 (4 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Almost a cool documentary....but not quite by HPearson October 20, 2007 - 9:24 AM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
When I heard about this film shortly after I settled in San Francisco a little over a year ago, I figured it was a must-see....a subject of local interest, a unique and fascinating story. But I found the film disappointing. It's basically a dull portrayal of a somewhat dorky, loserish guy who has a strange obsession with....birds. I thought that as a documentary it was underdeveloped and lacking in depth.

No sound until actual movie starts by KathyWithaK July 26, 2006 - 10:07 AM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Great movie, but the preview before you arrive at the main menu is for a silent film. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why sound wasn't coming from the DVD player as had for the previous DVD. It wasn't until I tried another title after 15 minutes of troubleshooting did I realize that it wasn't my system. Just a warning, I'm sure this has happened to others.

Fine Feathered Friends by talltale January 2, 2006 - 7:59 PM PST
9 out of 9 members found this review helpful
The real danger from a film as seemingly simple as THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL is that all would-be documentarians may look at it and say, "I could do that!" They should be so lucky. This apparently artless but actually quite artful film is one-of-a-kind. How strange and bracing it was to watch it in the same week as "Grizzly Man." As troublesome, sad, loony, and self-deluded a character as was Grizzly's Timothy Treadwell, Parrots' Mark Bittner is to nearly the same extent a kind of hero: intelligent, aware of himself and his own shortcomings, and highly cognizant of what he is doing to and for these birds. He admits to anthropomorphizing them, yet does it so knowingly and thoughtfully and with such immense, in-depth research that it's hard to resist many of his interpretations.

Filmmaker Judy Irving has somehow managed to put together a non-fiction work that pulls the viewer into Mr. Bittner's world--his history, birds, friends, landlords, locals, even the city and its custodians--with humor, surprise and vast reserves of sadness and joy. "Parrots" does not give in to easy sentimentality yet explores the bond between humans and the animal world in as deep a fashion as I have encountered. That rare film that could not seem simpler while touching on the profound, it's yet another documentary that outdoes "March of the Penguins" in every way--except its exotic locale. And actually, that guy with green hair whom we glimpse in the pet shop looked pretty exotic to me. This takes place in San Francisco, after all....

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