Ornithologist Fernando loses control of his canoe in a wild nature reserve in north-eastern Portugal. He is discovered some way off by two Chinese pilgrims. This encounter marks the start of a mythical journey, an existentialists quest with a role for Saint Anthony of Padua, to whom you appeal for help as a Catholic when you’ve lost something.
The result is an exciting ensemble of blasphemy and religiousness. Fernando commits sins – he plucks the apple and has sex with a shepherd – and also shows his better side: he loves and respects the grandiosity of nature. Reflective moments, occasionally filmed from the perspective of birds, are juxtaposed with grotesque scenes which seek out the limits of the comprehensible, with (sexually) explicit and bloody episodes as a consequence. All the facets of life come together in this film, which has the roaming soul Fernando at its heart.

International title
The Ornithologist
Filmmaker
João Pedro Rodrigues
Country
Portugal, France, Brazil
Year
2016
Medium
DCP
Length
118’
Language
Portuguese, English, Mandarin, Latin
Producer
Vincent Wang
Production Company
House on Fire
Sales
Films Boutique
Writer
João Pedro Rodrigues, Joao Rui Guerra da Mata
Cinematography
Rui Poças
Editor
Raphaël Lefèvre
Production Design
Joao Rui Guerra da Mata
Music
Séverine Ballon
Cast
Paul Hamy, Xelo Cagiao, João Pedro Rodrigues, Han Wen, Chan Suan, Juliane Elting