The Ornithologist

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Portugal | 2016 | 118 minutes | João Pedro Rodrigues

O Ornitólogo

With a subversive Pasolini-esque style, João Pedro Rodrigues' mind-bending adventure treks along with a solitary ornithologist who, while searching for endangered black storks, is plunged into the eerie and dark forests of northern Portugal and finds himself transforming into a Catholic saint.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

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  • Matinee

SIFF Cinema Egyptian

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Monday, June 5, 2017

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SIFF Cinema Uptown

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Navigating between calm waters and a whimsical forest under the bright sun of Portugal, The Ornithologist, directed by João Pedro Rodrigues, is a poetic and meditative journey about a man facing the mysteries of nature. Birdwatcher Fernando (Paul Hamy) is preparing a scientific observation by himself on a river when he is swept away by the rapids and falls unconscious. Rescued by two Chinese girls, he wakes up in the forest. While recovering and finding his way out, he experiences strange and enigmatic encounters that will not leave him unchanged. Mingling with a mystical but dangerous outdoors, the cinematography enhances the lush flora; mountains, woods, and water are wrapped in a splendid natural light. Set in an environment that feels almost frozen in time, the story is complex, intriguing, and introspective. Yet the narrative flows like a river thanks to a mesmerizing performance by Hamy, the centerpiece of the journey. With a strong sense of symbolism and engaging Christ-like references in which the sacred meets the profane, The Ornithologist is a peaceful, oneiric panorama that invites the viewer into a delicate mystery.

Director Biography

João Pedro Rodrigues has been directing shorts, documentaries, and feature films since the late 1980s. Some of his most acclaimed include O Fantasma and Two Drifters. The Ornithologist, his latest, has been recognized at festivals throughout the world, including the Ghent International Film Festival.

Sponsored by KNKX, Center for West European Studies UW

  • Director: João Pedro Rodrigues
  • Principal Cast: Paul Hamy, Xelo Cagiao, João Pedro Rodrigues, Han Wen, Chan Suan, Juliane Elting
  • Premiere Status: Seattle
  • Country: Portugal, France, Brazil
  • Year: 2016
  • Running Time: 118 minutes
  • Producer: João Pedro Rodrigues, Diogo Varela Silva
  • Screenplay: João Pedro Rodrigues, João Rui Guerra da Mata
  • Cinematographers: Rui Poças
  • Editors: Raphaël Lefèvre
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Locarno International Film Festival 2016 (Best Direction)
  • Filmography: The Last Time I Saw Macao (2012); To Die Like a Man (2009); Two Drifters (2005); O Fantasma (2000)
  • Language: Portuguese, English, Mandarin, Mirandese, Latin
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Strand Releasing
  • International Sales: Films Boutique