PLUS+MINUS productions

BIRDS

Single-channel artist film, stereo sound
Duration: 28:27

Watch the trailer

Press kit

BRIEF SYNOPSIS

BIRDS is a tale of radioactive pigeons, two pairs of twins and a massacre, set in a seaside village in the shadow of a decrepit nuclear plant. In this blighted environment all is entangled — birds, humans, plutonium — and nothing will be spared.

Reading omens

ABOUT BIRDS

BIRDS is an artist film by Merilyn Fairskye, the latest in a series of photographic and screen works that explore the contemporary realities of nuclear sites and their legacies. With an aesthetic approach that emphasises the act of creation and construction over a passive recording and reconstruction of the world, BIRDS humanises the connections between the nuclear and the everyday at a time of great environmental threat and nuclear uncertainty.

BIRDS is inspired by real events that took place between 1998-2010 in the area around Sellafield, the large nuclear reprocessing site in Cumbria, UK. Martin Forwood, a long-time anti-nuclear campaigner (1947-2019), was Merilyn Fairskye’s guide when she visited Sellafield and Seascale, the neighbouring village, in 2016. On the way out of the village, they stopped in front of a pink house overlooking the sea. Martin related a story about the former occupants involving radioactive pigeons, two sets of twins, and a massacre. After several false starts, BIRDS is the result.

Nuclear waste dump

The real-life events behind this work, if related factually, could appear merely sensational and bizarre, and the larger resonances would be lost. BIRDS enters imaginary territory to shape a more nuanced context for these events in order to draw out what Kristine Stiles has called ‘the ever-present haunting of the nuclear age’.

Actors present different accounts as they were recorded in the media at the time. The imagery builds around the pink house, seaside and nuclear plant and accumulates and dissipates in different ways to create a sense of a volatile environment where all forms of life are entangled. The over-arching motif is the environment that the nuclear plant seeps into — land, sea and air — metamorphosing and mutating because of human actions and now, beyond human control. The birds are the constant presence, and unstoppable.

Ava and Birdie
Ava and Birdie (Monette Lee), BIRDS 2020

Deryn and Robin
Deryn and Robin (Dane Carson), BIRDS 2020

NOTES ON THE SOUNDTRACK

The actors’ voices are woven through a soundtrack that draws on experimental processes to give a voice to the birds and the environment. It was created by musician and composer Meg Travers, who constructed a 21st century interpretation of the Trautonium, a 1920s German synthesizer.

The original Trautonium, the first instrument capable of sculpting electronic sounds, was used by German composer and electronic music pioneer, Oskar Sala, to create the non-musical soundtrack for Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’.

To find out more see: UNLIKELY

The official
The Official (Mayu Iwasaki), BIRDS

 

CREDITS

executive producer OGNIAN PISHEV
direction, editing, camera MERILYN FAIRSKYE
soundscape composition and performance MEG TRAVERS
dramaturg/assistant director GREG GIESEKAM
sound mix ROBERT HINDLEY
online editor, title design and grading GREG FERRIS
production assistance TONY TWIGG

CAST

Ava/Birdie MONETTE LEE
Robin/Deryn DANE CARSON
official MAYU IWASAKI
announcer MICHIEL DOLK

additional voices SONJA BENNETTO, GREG GIESEKAM, DYLAN MCKIMMIE, LUCY MCKIMMIE, MEG TRAVERS, TONY TWIGG

additional UK photography NICK SHIMMIN, CLIVE PARKINSON

Dedicated to Martin Forwood & Janine Allis-Smith

© 2020 A PLUS & MINUS PRODUCTION | www.plusandminus.net