The Ornithologist

Free screening for our BRILLIANT CORNERS series on new experimental cinema.

R, 117 minutes

Fernando, a solitary ornithologist, is looking for endangered black storks along a remote river in northern Portugal when he is swept away by the rapids. Rescued by a couple of Chinese pilgrim girls on their way to Santiago de Compostela, he plunges into a dark, eerie forest, trying to get back on track. But as he encounters unexpected and uncanny obstacles and people who put him to the test, Fernando is driven to extreme, transformative actions. Gradually he becomes a different man: inspired, multifaceted, and finally enlightened. (2017, Joao Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal, R, 117 min, DCP, Eng subs)

“An extraordinarily rich, unpredictable fever-dream, a pilgrimage film that sits somewhere alongside Buñuel’s The Milky Way (1969), Jarman’s Sebastiane (1976) and Powell and Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale (1944) with its fusion of religious iconography and sexual and spiritual anguish, coupled with a palpable reverence for the mysterious cross-currents of the natural world.” -Sight & Sound

“Calling to mind the best of Buñuel and Apichatpong, THE ORNITHOLOGIST adopts a dream logic that never begs for decoding, a sensuous engagement with the world that asks only to be experienced. As if to render the notion of intelligibility quaint, Fernando’s encounters repeatedly heighten the threshold for communication, whether by…. thwarting the very possibility of verbal exchange or by evoking the mysterious ways in which creatures of heaven and earth make contact across their estrangement.” -Film Comment

“It’s Rodrigues’ most thoroughly realized movie yet because he has the thematic and cinematic space to work out his ideas, and most importantly, he completely embraces the wonders and possibilities of storytelling, storytelling of the oldest kind, storytelling before plot points and third acts.” -Cinema Scope

“This spellbinding new work from Portuguese director João Pedro Rodrigues offers a cheerfully blasphemous take on the life of St. Anthony of Padua, recast here as a handsome bird watcher whose latest wilderness excursion takes several frightening, erotic and hilariously surreal turns.” -The Los Angeles Times

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