On the one-year anniversary of the tragic 2010 BP oil spill, HBO will premiere "Saving Pelican 895," a dramatic documentary that focuses on the story of one oil-stricken bird and the efforts to save it.
"From the get-go, we thought that the strength of the story would be if I could find one bird and follow that bird through the course of its life, whether it lived or it died," director Irene Taylor Brodsky told Oregon Public Broadcasting's Arts and Life. "We weren’t trying to find a bird that lived. We weren’t trying to find a bird that would die. We were just trying to find a bird that all the agencies that were involved would let us stay with the whole time. And that was incredibly difficult."
According to Brodsky, a maze of rehab awaited captured pelicans — with four different agencies working together to clean, heal and release the birds. "LA 895," the bird that is the focus of the film, managed to make it through every step, eventually joining more than 1,200 pelicans that have been released back into the wild.
"The plan always was to film the bird no matter what happened to him," she says. "I wanted him to live, because he was a bird who deserved to live. If he had died, I would have made a film about a bird that died. I didn’t have an agenda. I wasn’t trying to make a film about a bird that is a success story."
HBO is pegging this one as a film about "inspiration and redemption" and it's certainly a refreshing angle on the disaster from the more people-centric documentaries being released. The audience seems to agree — with "Saving Pelican 895" recently winning best documentary honors at the prestigious Vail Film Festival, as well as the Audience Awar" at the Ashland Independent Film Fest.
Check out a trailer below. The film debuts on HBO on April 20 at 9 p.m. EST.