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Emptying the Skies exposes the brutal world of bird traps

Emptying the Skies exposes the brutal world of bird traps


Emptying the Skies. Picture: DocPoint

Emptying the Skies is a journey to the world of songbirds. Picture: DocPoint

Based on Jonathan Franzen’s 2010 contribution to the New Yorker, Douglas Kass’s ‘Emptying the Skies’ (2013) follows several male members of the C.A.B.S. organisation ( Committee Against Bird Slaughter) on a series of unusual, vigilante journeys throughout mediterranean countries to save migratory songbirds by dismantling traps set by hunters.

The ortolan. Picture: DocPoint

The ortolan. Picture: DocPoint

The birds are believed to be a delicacy and fetch very high prices in various underground markets for food lovers and restaurant owners. Songbirds like the ortolan, have been hunted to near-extinction and will not be able to survive as a species if something is not done about this.

Picture: DocPoint

Picture: DocPoint

Franzen’s testimony as a bird-lover is sobering. While the EU is pretty clear, that hunting and trapping these migratory birds is illegal, the law is not aggressively enforced.

The activity of consuming the bird is considered by some a rite of passage and many hunters have attested to learning the techniques from their fathers or grandfathers.

To further complicate matters, our heroic group from CABS is crossing international boundaries and property lines to communicate their message.

While it’s clear, the motivation is simply love for these beautiful creatures, the film does ask the viewer to consider the point at which it becomes acceptable to take matter’s into your own hands.


  • Director: Douglas Kass
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2013
  • Length: 78 min
  • Age limit: S
  • Format: DCP
  • Cinematography: Michael Tucker, Douglas Kass
  • Editing: Michael Levine
  • Music: Marty Beller, Laurie Anderson
  • Production: Roger Kass / Ringthething Entertainment
  • Showtimes: Savoy: Sunday 1.2. at 12:00
READ:  DocPoint 2016: Immigration and Ghosts of Finland’s War-torn Past Dominate This year’s Documentary Film Festival

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