More than 7,000 birds were killed as a result of the April 2010 BP oil spill that spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico. But after three months, cleanup workers at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Louisiana had rescued 894 surviving oiled pelicans.
HBO Documentary Films presents the story of the effort to save the 895th surviving oiled pelican in Louisiana, showing how conservationists, government agencies and wildlife activists joined forces to preserve this one life. An inspiring bird's-eye view of the rigorous process of rescuing thousands of oiled birds.
The state bird of Louisiana, the brown pelican has endured a turbulent history along the Louisiana Coast. In the mid-1900s, pollution pushed the pelican to the brink of extinction, and by 1963, it had disappeared from the state altogether. As a result, the brown pelican spent 45 years on the endangered species list, while state biologists worked tirelessly to reintroduce the species to its natural habitat. A major victory came in November 2009, when the brown pelican was finally removed from the endangered species list. Five months later, on April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, spilling millions of gallons of oil into prime bird habitat in the Gulf of Mexico, and leaving the state bird in peril once again.
Directed by Oscar® nominee Irene Taylor Brodsky (HBO's "The Final Inch" and "Hear and Now"), SAVING PELICAN 895 tells the gripping story of "LA 895," named after its state and rescue number by the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Louisiana. For months after the explosion, millions of gallons of oil per day gushed into the bird nesting habitat, leaving many of them - some only baby birds - incapacitated and near death. The film follows LA 895 from his rescue and recovery as an incapacitated juvenile bird with oil-slicked feathers through his ultimate maturation and release back into the wild.
The impact of the 2010 BP oil spill has left an indelible mark on the Gulf region, threatening not only the livelihood of the locals, but also the productive ecosystem and its wildlife for years to come. Through interviews with relief workers, including Jay Holcomb, director emeritus of International Bird Rescue, oil employees and local residents, the film reveals how people worked around the clock to give the wildlife a chance to survive. Interestingly, the U.S. is the only country that demands oil companies pay the cost of rehabilitating affected wildlife after a spill.
SAVING PELICAN 895 is as much about the effects of the spill on the brown pelican as a species as it is about the Louisianians who put their hearts and souls into helping heal their state bird. The film illustrates on a microcosmic level the impact that a small community can make on a much larger issue.
Ultimately, SAVING PELICAN 895 is a story of redemption and human compassion. Thanks to those who worked interminably in the months following the spill, 1,246 birds were rescued and released back into the wild.
Producer, director, writer and cinematographer Irene Taylor Brodsky is an Emmy® and Peabody Award winner, and an Oscar® nominee. Her first feature-length film, the HBO presentation "Hear and Now," won the 2007 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and was also nominated for Documentary of the Year by the Producer's Guild of America. In collaboration with HBO, her 2009 film "The Final Inch" was nominated for an Academy Award® and three Emmy® Awards.
HBO Documentary Films presents SAVING PELICAN 895; directed and produced by Irene Taylor Brodsky; edited by Geof Bartz and Andrew Morreale; director of photography, Peter D. Richardson; original music by Joel Goodman. For HBO: supervising producer, Sara Bernstein; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.