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Emptying the Skies documentary — screening at the Cary Institute

Millbrook, N.Y. — On Friday, February 21 at 7 p.m. join the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies for a free screening of Emptying the Skies, a documentary film about the widespread poaching of migratory songbirds in the Mediterranean and the heroism of a team of Italian bird-lovers trying to put an end to the practice.

In parts of Southern Europe, songbirds are a culinary delicacy, commanding top dollar on the black market. Learn about the millions of protected songbirds that wind up on dinner plates, why the harvest is unsustainable, and how citizens can help turn the tide.

Credit: Little Wing LLC

The film, directed by brothers Douglas and Roger Kass, is based on a New Yorker essay by award-winning writer Jonathan Franzen.  Using discrete cameras, filmmakers traveled to poaching hotspots with international activists. The footage – shot mainly in Cyprus, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain – sheds much needed light on the widespread illegal trapping of songbirds.

A Q&A with director Roger Kass will follow the 78-minute film. Kass has been quoted as saying, “Beyond learning about the issues the film addresses in terms of songbird poaching in southern Europe, the notion that every individual can make a difference, no matter how large or small, is one that I really hope the film clearly evokes.”

Credit: Thierry Nicaise

Directors Roger and Douglas Kass received the 2013 Zelda Penzel Giving Voices to the Voiceless Award for the documentary.  Roger Kass is a well-known producer of motion pictures, among them A History of Violence, The Basketball Diaries, and Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film.

The event will take place in the Cary Institute auditorium, located at 2801 Sharon Tpk., (Rte. 44), Millbrook, N.Y. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information contact Pamela Freeman at (845) 677-7600 x121 or email Seating is first come first served.


The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is a private, not-for-profit environmental research and education organization in Millbrook, N.Y. For thirty years, Cary Institute scientists have been investigating the complex interactions that govern the natural world. Their objective findings lead to more effective policy decisions and increased environmental literacy. Focal areas include air and water pollution, climate change, invasive species, and the ecological dimensions of infectious disease.