Off the Screen: Pelican Dreams

Filmmaker Judy Irving, Composer Bruce Kaphan, and Seabird Ecologist Laurie Harvey in Person

Thursday, June 18, 2015 • 7:00 p.m.

Exploratorium, Pier 15

Included with museum admission.

Adults Only (18+)

Pelican Dreams (2014, 80 min.), an intimate portrait of an iconic species by filmmaker Judy Irving, follows a wayward, starving California brown pelican from her “arrest” on the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge into care at a wildlife rehabilitation facility, and from there explores pelicans’ nesting grounds, Pacific coast migration, and survival challenges. A Q&A with producer/director Judy Irving will follow the screening.

Starring “Gigi” (for Golden Gate) and “Morro” (a backyard pelican with an injured wing), as well as the wildlife professionals who care for them, Pelican Dreams raises important questions about human relationships to wildness: How close can we get to a wild animal without taming or harming it? Why do we need wildness in our lives, and how can we protect it? 

Judy Irving is a Sundance-and-Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker whose previous credits include The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a feature documentary about the relationship between a homeless street musician and a flock of wild parrots in San Francisco, and Dark Circle, about the links between nuclear power and weapons.

San Francisco Bay Area Musician Bruce Kaphan has been professionally involved in the music scene since the mid-70s. His skills and talents have made their mark on hundreds of projects and thousands of performances given around the world. Pelican Dreams is his fourth feature film score.

Seabird ecologist and Sutil Conservation Ecology founder Laurie Harvey has worked in seabird conservation biology and island restoration since 2002, conducting scientific research, habitat restoration, and public education to conserve and protect pelagic species, which rely on island and marine ecosystems. Her main research focuses on the breeding biology and reproductive performance of seabirds in the California Current system, particularly those that nest on California’s Channel Islands and islands of Mexico’s northwestern Baja California.


Photo: White pelican strolls in St. James Park, London © Stephen McLaren.

In this series, we aim to test the boundaries of film through a hybrid of performance and inquiry-based programs centered on the moving image. These challenging programs target the local community while showcasing new films by artists, live-cinema experiences, and deepening collaborations with local partner organizations.