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The Lost Bird Project - Trailer

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Published on Mar 2, 2012

The Lost Bird Project is a documentary about the stories of five birds driven to extinction in modern times and sculptor Todd McGrain's project to memorialize them. The film follows the road-trip that McGrain and his brother-in-law, Andy, take as they search for the locations where the birds were last seen in the wild and negotiate for permission to install McGrain's large bronze sculptures there.

The film is directed by Deborah Dickson, whose previous films have been nominated three times for Oscars, and is produced by Muffie Meyer, whose previous directing credits include the original Grey Gardens documentary and several Emmy award-winning documentaries.

Travelling all the way from the tropical swamps of Florida to Martha's Vineyard to the rocky coasts of Newfoundland over a period of two years, they scout locations, talk to park rangers, speak at town meetings and battle bureaucracy in their effort to gather support for the project. McGrain's aim in placing the sculptures is to give presence to the birds where they are now so starkly absent. "These birds are not commonly known," he says, "and they ought to be, because forgetting is another kind of extinction. It's such a thorough erasing."

McGrain's passion for form is apparent when he speaks of the physicality of a life of sculpting. "Touch is literally the way we come in contact with the world." The memorials are not naturalistic works of biological detail, rather McGrain's intention is to create shapes that capture the presence of the birds, to make them personal and palpable, to remind us of their absence.

The memorials now stand in the places where the birds once socialized, courted and fed their young — a testament to what we have lost...and a reminder to preserve what we have left. The Great Auk memorial is located on the island of Fogo, in Newfoundland.

The film is an elegy to the five birds and a thoughtful and sometimes humorous look at the artist and his mission. The Lost Bird Project is a "buddy movie" about public art, extinction and memory.

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