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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Anna Bornstein at 4:47PM
Philippine Eagle

Blog Posting by Anna Bornstein, Environmental Studies and Cinema Photography 20', FLEFF Blogging Intern, Stonington, CT.


The Philippine Eagle has stood as a national symbol for the Philippines for over 40 years. However, a rapidly growing population faced with socio-economic and environmental discourse has taken the bird out of the public eye. Today, with scientists suggesting there being 200-800 left in the wild, The Philippine Eagle is categorized  critically endangered.

One of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festivals most anticipated films, “Bird of Prey” follows a group of devoted individuals as they fight to save the Philippine Eagle from Extinction.

Earlier this week I had the chance to speak with “Bird of Prey director and producer Eric Liner about the film.

Liner has spent most of his career in the outdoors, filming wildlife for independent films and television broadcasts all over the world. In 2005, Liner joined the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and helped launch it’s multimedia unit in 2007. Bird of Prey is his first full length feature.

Two of the main inspirations for creating “Bird of Prey” were cinematographer Neil Rettig and Doctor of Veterinary medicine Laura Johnson. Rettig is a 6 time Emmy winning cinematographer with over 40 years of experience with filming wildlife. Rettig filmed the first images of the Philippine Eagle in the wild back in 1977, transforming the raptor into the national symbol it is today. Dr. Laura Johnson has over 30 years of experience in Veterinary medicine, specializing in birds of prey. Johnson often assists Rettig on film shoots.“Bird of Prey” captures Rettigs return to the Philippines as he, Dr.Johnson, and the Philippine Eagle Foundation work to save the bird.

Because the Philippine eagle is critically endangered, one of the greatest challenges in filming was actually locating a family of wild Philippine Eagles. The bird lays only one egg every two years, so finding an active nest during filming was somewhat of a miracle. The team had to make a great effort not to disturb or harm them, making for some very tense moments during filming.

The Philippine has become endangered from a combination of deforestation and human persecution- or hunting. Deforestation is not an issue Liner believes we can fix overnight, but putting a stop to the unnecessary shooting and trapping of the bird is definitely a goal he hopes to achieve through the films distribution.

“Bird of Prey” tells the story of fighting to remember a beautiful creature before it can be forgotten. It is a story of loss but is also, and perhaps more importantly, a story of hope.


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