From the Australian outback, Nugent embarks on a journey across the Indian Ocean to inspect European museums, where taxidermied specimens serve as the sole remaining proof that the bird ever existed, and finding clues to life and death of a species of bird ‘lost in the darkness’.
Examining the way these vastly different cultures conceive of and protect historicity, Night Parrot Stories attempts to define the night parrot by compiling the multitude of traces it has left behind. Through the film, Nugent offers an elegiac contemplation on the nature of extinction; on the ravages of time and environmental loss, weaving together philosophical musings and images of the sublime into an intensely inventive and vivid tapestry.
Night Parrot Stories inhabits the space where art and science coalesce, questioning how human knowledge comes to be created, can be lost but may always be restored from even the most ephemeral and unexpected of sources.
“The film documents a quest to locate the rare nocturnal desert dwelling bird, and presents a range of ethnographic approaches, while raising questions with respect to our fragmented and incomplete natural history archive, engagement with indigenous communities, and the ethics and aesthetics of representing more-than-human environments.” - Tom Bristow, University of Melbourne
Night Parrot Stories
In his ode to this elusive nocturnal bird, award-winning director Robert Nugent goes on an obsessive quest through the remote deserts of Australia, where the bird once lived, to hear stories of sightings from Indigenous community members who revere the night parrot as legend.
One of the most elusive creatures in the world, the night parrot is often described by the anthropologist and filmmaker as the ‘thylacine of the air’ and garners comparisons to Ahab’s white whale from Moby Dick. There is nothing of its ecology to be found in the record books and while literary descriptions of this furtive fowl can be traced back as far as 1861, it has long been presumed to be completely extinct… until now.