Parroting a blockbuster film success with Peachland’s parrots

Vancouver filmmaker picks Peachland's Parrot Island for a monthly video project similar to the online hit The Sparrow Songs

  • Mar. 13, 2012 9:00 a.m.

Peachland’s Parrot Island has made it into a unique film project featuring different aspects of B.C.

Novice filmmaker Lewis Bennett, of Vancouver, challenged himself to make a short film each month about an unusual aspect of this province and Parrot Island made February’s pick, much to the owner’s surprise.

“I’m hoping it does generate awareness because these birds really should be in the wild,” said Ray Parkes, sanctuary founder.

The Parkes opened their home to abandoned parrots out of the goodness of their hearts and currently have 80 parrots with 50 in waiting as they try to do their bit to provide homes for the thousands of unwanted parrots currently needing sanctuary.

There are two million unwanted parrots in North America, according to Parkes, who said they are abandoned by owners who either didn’t realize how difficult the birds are to keep as pets or were unable to fulfill their obligations as owners due to changes in life circumstance.

Parrots have a 50 to 70-year lifespan and attach themselves to their owner, refusing to form relationships with the other people in that owner’s life. This can pose a challenge at the sanctuary and for others offering to adopt the birds, but for the most part, the parrots all seem to love Parkes.

While the sanctuary appears an interesting, theme-park style tourist attraction, it’s thus got a very sad story behind it and one Bennett thought worthy of a film.

“I’m trying to just get better at my story writing skills,” said Bennett, who attended the now defunct BCIT film school in 2005 and then left the pursuit behind for a few years while travelling.

The year-long project, said the 27-year-old, is simply a way to hold himself accountable to relearning the art and he’s picked some challenging topics to tackle so far. His first film was about the feet, which have been washing up along the coastline in B.C. and Washington, and his March film looks at what it means to be a follower as a young person in a city with several gangs.

The project is being posted online and his efforts earned an article on web news magazine The Tyee.

Bennett came up with the year of films concept after discovering The Sparrow Songs, a unique monthly project based out of L.A. which has received rave reviews in the film community.

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