BY PATRICIA DRAZNIN
Meet Mingus, Olive, Pushkin, Sophie, Picasso, and the rest of the gorgeous cherry-headed conures. This flock of wild parrots befriends a benign San Francisco resident, changing the course of his secluded life and putting him on the international speaking circuit.
In Bittner’s sparse hilltop studio, Mingus prefers to live under the refrigerator or dance to the rhythms of Mark’s guitar. But the rest of the tropical flock stays outdoors, eating from Bittner’s hands and even his mouth. Through narration and back stories, Bittner shares his keen and unhurried observations: that these colorful creatures experience love, sadness, anger, and gratitude, and that each has a personality, a status in the flock, and a special relationship with their human ally on Telegraph Hill.
Wild Parrots is a quiet, endearing film with a rich message and a clever ending. All that’s missing are some details about Bittner’s transition to notoriety. But Sundance- and Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker Judy Irving succeeds in bringing this unusual tale to life in a compassionate film you’ll want to see more than once. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to make friends with a flock of wild parrots.