Rare Birds

Poster for Rare Birds

Spring 2002 Main series

Sunday, April 21, 2002 at 4:00pm
Sunday, April 21, 2002 at 7:00pm
Monday, April 22, 2002 at 7:00pm

Empire Theatres, New Minas, NS

Directed by


Rated 14A · 1h 44m

Based on St. John’s native Edward Riche’s (Made In Canada) hilarious novel, Rare Birds marks a whimsical change of pace for dramatic director Sturla Gunnarsson, whose hit Such A Long Journey graced the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival. Dave Purcell (William Hurt, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Accidental Tourist) is ready to call it quits on his marriage and his restaurant, The Auk. Situated in Push Through Cove, Newfoundland, The Auk, like the ill-fated bird for which it was named, has seen better days. All seems lost until Dave’s neighbour, Alphonse Murphy (Andy Jones, CODCO, Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy), proposes a mad yet ingenious scheme to save The Auk: They fabricate a report claiming to have sighted an extremely rare (believed extinct) duck. This prompts enthusiastic birders from around the world to flock to the area — which subsequently makes Dave’s restaurant a bustling, frenzied hot spot. With his business suddenly thriving, life in Push Through Cove seems good for Dave, especially as he begins to fall for Alphonse’s alluring sister, Alice (Molly Parker, Sunshine). Alphonse, however, buoyed by the success of his Auk caper, begins to cook up another scheme which inadvertently threatens to expose the duck hoax and endanger everyone’s new-found personal and financial well-being. Shot entirely on location in Newfoundland, in Outer Cove, Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove, Cape Spear and St. John’s, Rare Birds, which premiered at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival and won the People’s Choice Award at the Atlantic Film Festival, has all the makings of a delightful and rare treat.

“Austere maritime settings are used to captivating effect. Director Sturla Gunnarsson has just the right touch of sardonic lightness.” – Variety

“Sturla Gunnarsson’s Rare Birds is a sweetheart of a film, whimsical and touching.” – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times