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Ivory-billed woodpecker: ``Ghost Bird'' makes Chicago debut

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Not sure exactly what a ``eco-noir'' documentary is, but it sounds like something to my tastes. And that's how Ghost Bird is being described.

The ``eco-noir'' about the rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker makes its Chicago debut beginning Friday at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

This is one of the more fascinating stories in modern American outdoors. I'm not sure if or when I can make the screenings, but I need to fit it in.

Here's the official word and details:

Award-winning documentary GHOST BIRD to have Chicago Premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center

September 17- 23, 2010

Chicago, Illinois -- (September 13, 2010) -- GHOST BIRD, the new documentary film by Scott Crocker, will have its Chicago premiere at Gene Siskel Film Center in a six-night run, beginning September 17, 2010. For the first time, Chicago audiences can see the critically-acclaimed film, which chronicles the saga of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and a modern small-town America struggling with vanishing natural and economic resources.

Ghost Bird is a full-length documentary exploring the strange rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, believed extinct for over half a century. In 2005, scientists announced that the bird was still flying in the swamps of Eastern Arkansas, leading the nation's 80 million birders to celebrate the woodpecker's miraculous second-coming. The residents of nearby Brinkley, Arkansas also flew at the chance to capitalize on this fledgling eco-tourism, hoping for a resurrection of their own.

Nonetheless, following the largest recovery effort ever undertaken for a lost species, and despite millions of dollars in government funding, the Ivory-bill remains as elusive as ever.

Winner of the Cine 2010 Golden Eagle and recipient of the Soul of Southern Filmmaking award, Ghost Bird finds what the scientists could not: an America struggling for its own preservation against vanishing economic and natural resources.

Ghost Bird also features an official soundtrack with music by The Pixies, The Black Keys, Under Byen, Hazmat Modine, Sonny Terry, The Black Heart Procession, and an original score by Canadian avant-cellist, Zoƫ Keating.

* Directed by Scott Crocker, 2009
* 85 minutes - documentary
* Produced by Small Change Productions

Public Screenings:
GHOST BIRD: Chicago Premiere-Run
WHEN Friday, September 17, 2010 THRU-

Thursday, September 23, 2010. NIGHTLY

WHERE Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago:
164 North State Street, Chicago Illinois.


Upcoming Showings - Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, Illinois:

* Fri, Sep 17th at 6:15pm
* Fri, Sep 17th at 8:00pm
* Sat, Sep 18th at 3:00pm
* Sat, Sep 18th at 4:45pm
* Sat, Sep 18th at 6:30pm
* Sat, Sep 18th at 8:15pm
* Sun, Sep 19th at 3:15pm
* Sun, Sep 19th at 5:00pm
* Mon, Sep 20th at 6:15pm
* Mon, Sep 20th at 8:00pm
* Tue, Sep 21st at 6:15pm
* Tue, Sep 21st at 8:00pm
* Thu, Sep 23rd at 6:15pm
* Thu, Sep 23rd at 8:00pm

TICKETING: All tickets may be purchased at the Film Center Box Office. Both general admission and Film Center member tickets are available through Ticketmaster, 800-982-2787,, and all Ticketmaster outlets. The Film Center box office is open 5:00-9:00 pm, Monday-Friday; 2:00-9:00 pm, Saturday; and 2:00-6:00 pm, Sunday. Tickets to each screening are $10/general admission. Other ticket prices are $7/student and $5/Film Center members.


About the The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago:
Celebrating 38 years of presenting cutting edge programs, independent and international cinema, premieres, retrospectives, and classic films, the Film Center is a vibrant cultural destination in Chicago that attracts a diverse and creative annual audience of over 81,000. For more information about the Film Center, call 312-846-2800 (24-hour movie hotline) or 312-846-2600 (general information, 9:00 am-5:00 p.m., Monday- Friday), or visit:

About Ghost Bird: Set in a murky swamp peopled with birders, ornithologists, gawkers and politicians, Ghost Bird explores the limits of certainty, the obsessive power of hope, and how one phantom giant woodpecker changed a sleepy Southern town forever.

This thrilling eco-noir investigates the strange but true story of a small town in Arkansas overrun by a nation of birders all searching for the Holy Grail with wings - the Ivory-billed woodpecker. Presumed extinct for over half a century, the giant bird was seen flying through nearby swamps by scientists who finally announced its rediscovery in 2005.

Despite the largest recovery effort in history, the Ivory-bill remains as elusive as ever. This witty, intelligent documentary brings the Ivory-bill's rediscovery into focus, revealing our uneasy relationship with nature and the increasing uncertainty of our place within it.

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I don't know whether or not the Ivory-billed woodpecker still exists, but there's still plenty of pileated woodpeckers around - I've seen 'em along the Kankakee backwater areas, and even in some isolated, heavily wooded neighborhoods in the suburbs South of Chicago.

The Kankakee River is home to more red-headed woodpeckers and yellow shafted flickers than I've ever seen anywhere else.

Too many of these wonderful birds seem to be shot every year by frustrated hunters and yahoos that just want to shoot anything that flies near them...perhaps we could save more birds by reintroducing more "farm-raised" pheasants and quail into the rural farmlands and public access hunting area.

There's many rarely seen birds that visit the areas we frequent, you merely have to keep looking and observing - I've seen cerulean warblers, hooded warblers, sora rails, trumpeter swans, and even an occassional pelican in Northwest Indiana...

Remeber when bald eagles were a rare occurance in our area? ...and now we see eagles and even an occassional osprey along the Kankakee River regularly.

I hope the ivory-billed woodpecker does in fact still exist, but my best guess is that they're just seeing a pileated woodpecker.

I was fortunate to spend an evening back in 2005 at the Prairie Rivers Network Dinner, where the speaker was one Tim Gallagher, author of The Grail Bird and member of the ivory-billed woodpecker search team.
The way Tim tells the story of their incredible journeys, coupled with fascinating photos on the big screen, he kept the viewing audience hanging on every word.
With his infusion of jokes and funny anecdotes mixed in, this was one night to remember.
Sadly, many are disputing the bird in the infamous video as being an Ivory-Billed, but rather a pileated. Wikipedia has an interesting page on this.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on September 16, 2010 6:12 AM.

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