...there are strange hells in the mind the desert makes. In the remote deserts of Australia lives an elusive nocturnal bird called the Night Parrot. Virtually nothing is known of its ecology. It disappeared at the end of the 19th Century. Searching for evidence of its existence became a preoccupation. Night Parrot Stories was filmed in all the locations where Night Parrots once lived, during a time when stories of extinction were everywhere.
Interview with Director Robert Nugent
Why did you make this film?
I was feeling a little bit fin de siècle about the world…i needed a character who could embrace incipient madness. The Night Parrot fitted the bill so-to-speak. It is set at the end of a period of time called the Holocene. Naming the stratigraphy of our mark on the planet is something that I wanted to approach cinematically. And another thing that kept going missing…plaques. Folk keep stealing them. Where do they take these plaques. What is left is a blank statement. Momento mori, and what lies beneath the plinth.
Why is the film called Night Parrots?
Stories of extinction are everywhere these days. I explore this anxiety through my own metaphoric and literal lens. The Night Parrot is the Jiminy Cricket of the end of the Holocene.
Night Parrots is your third documentary after End of the Rainbow and Memoirs of a Plague. What discontinuities and connections can you see between your three films?
Night Parrot is a revisiting of some places in Central Australia that I knew well. I wanted to see what would happen when I projected my inquiry into areas where the Night Parrot had once been reported.
What type of feedback have you received so far about the film?
Eccentric. Whimsical. Sad. Mad. Beautiful.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The inquiry has a formalism of an cinematic essay, however its full of fragments that may or may not be connected, perhaps like our natural history archive…incomplete…open ended.
There is plenty of room for the audience to be beguiled. This is what happens when you make a film on something dark, which reflects no light other than the sense of our own torch, prowling the metaphoric darkness.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
It is very nice to sit and reflect on such a forum. The film is about to be premiered at the wonderful Something Somewhere film festival in Alice Springs. The folk who appear in the film will be along. I am happy to sit here, a little bit high on caffeine, and consider such things at this time. Of course it will change how I feel about the film and how the world may feel about the film can probably never be the same. I will have to front the film in other forums but today, with heavy rain forecast in the desert (always a good sign), I am quite excited to let the night parrot off its ‘creance’ (a training leash used in falconry and filmmaking)
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message and audience?
Would be nice if it was seen more widely. I suspect the parrot is not prime tele but perhaps it will have a life in art house cinema, ethnographers (which it honours in several ways)…NITV, which I love, would be very nice if they were interested.
What type of impact would you like this film to have?
Meanings and knowledge creation work in funny ways. I can't really vouchsafe such things. There are some neglected narratives in the film which I think are nationally important. They are thus embedded here along with the contemporary situations…juxtaposition can create new alignments. It would be nice to widen the audience of alternative takes on ‘the natural history’ documentary film.
Lastly, what’s a key question that will help spark a debate about this issue and film?
Carry a large torch and walk softly. Its not a polemic. Maybe its an entreaty.
And remember…’Nothing comes without its world’ (Donna Haraway)
We are moving stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Length: 89 min
Director: Robert Nugent
Producer: Mitzi Goldman and Robert Nugent
About me: Rob is a Canberra based filmmaker whose Inquiries often document situations where humans bump into the non-human world.
Looking for (ie buyer, distributor, sales agent, producer, media interest, film festivals)
Funders: Screen Australia / Screen ACT
www.nightparrotstories.com for screening information