The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
BAMPFA Collection Print
Recommended for ages 8 & up
Saturated with local color, Judy Irving’s film weaves elements of nature documentary and personal portraiture into a tale of love and survival in the urban jungle. This is the story of a flock of wild cherry-headed conures—descendants of escaped or abandoned pets—and one ponytailed man, Mark Bittner, who, like the birds, has endured hardship and displacement but eventually flourished in the unique habitat of North Beach. After many years living on the streets, Bittner began feeding the flock, and a way of passing idle time gradually became a calling. Bittner offers us his insights into the birds and their ways, and the film vividly captures the parrots’ individual characters as well as Bittner’s own. Following its human and avian protagonists as they share joys and face perils—from predators to the machinations of San Francisco real estate—the film is an affecting consideration of the mysteries of attachment and what it means to be free.