The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
This small-scale documentary from filmmaker Judy Irving became something of a minor sensation upon its release in 2004, attracting moviegoers almost solely by word of mouth. Made with beguiling simplicity, the heartwarming film explores the principal passion of Mark Bittner, a struggling musician living in a rundown San Francisco cottage, where he looks after a flock of red-headed Conure parrots that have, inexplicably and improbably, taken up residence in the nearby trees.
Bittner – clearly an eccentric, but a gentle and lovable one – feeds the birds, tends the sick ones, and even tries to encourage the mating of a blue-headed misfit he names Connor.
There’s something joyful about watching the parrots, a species of outcasts with whom our human protagonist seems to identify. Irving’s camera examines them closely and before the final fadeout most viewers will root for them just as much as Mark Bittner does.
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