The 3rd Annual New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival (WFCC.org) runs from January 30 – February 2, 2013. Ahead of the event, Mongabay.com is running a series of Q&As with filmmakers and presenters. For more interviews, please see our WCFF feed.
Southern Cassowary. Photo courtesy of Bianca Keeley.
For large, conspicuous, and somewhat notorious animals, relatively little is known about cassowaries, a group of flightless birds that roams the rainforests of Northern Australia and New Guinea.
This fact is highlighted in Cassowaries, a recent documentary by Australian journalist and film producer Bianca Keeley. Cassowaries tells the story of cassowaries struggling to survive after a major cyclone destroyed their rainforest home.
“Cassowaries and their plight was virtually unknown to the wider world, explained Keeley. “It was very important to show people not only how unique, important and amazing these creatures are but how much they are in trouble and really need our help.”
Cassowaries is making its New York city premiere next week at the 3rd Annual New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival. Ahead of the screening, Keeley answered some questions from Mongabay.com about the film and her career, which spans work as a TV journalist to setting up her own film and TV production company.
AN INTERVIEW WITH BIANCA KEELEY
Mongabay.com: What is your background?
Bianca Keeley: I started my career as a TV journalist for news on current affairs. Moving on to producing interactive media projects and working on a wide range of productions from music videos to wildlife documentaries before setting up my own company BK Films to concentrate on telling engaging stories for Film/TV.
Mongabay.com: How long have you been making films? What are some other examples of your work?
Bianca Keeley: Five years. I have just recently completed a film called Reptilian Battleground which is an amazing story about saltwater crocodiles and sea turtles and the epic battle that takes place when they meet.
Mongabay.com: Why did you choose cassowaries as a subject?
Bianca Keeley: They are truly amazing creatures whose behavior and plight is little-known and has rarely been filmed before. Personally I find them prehistoric and very charismatic, but they are in real trouble mainly due to habitat destruction and there was an important story that needed to be told.
Mongabay.com: What is the plot of the film?
Bianca Keeley: Cassowaries tells the action-packed, heart-warming stories of the cassowaries of North-Eastern Australia struggling to survive after a one in 50 year cyclone destroyed their rainforest homes, while revealing for the first time the natural history of the magnificent endangered Southern Cassowary.
Mongabay.com: What was the most exciting or interesting part of making the film?
Bianca Keeley: I had a wild male cassowary father who I spent a lot of time with from the time his chicks were two weeks old, right through until he kicked them out of home when they were around 9 months. I felt very privileged that he allowed me to spend time with his family and watch these chicks grow up.
Mongabay.com: What impact do you hope this film will have?
Bianca Keeley: Cassowaries and their plight was virtually unknown to the wider world. It was very important to show people not only how unique, important and amazing these creatures are but how much they are in trouble and really need our help. It is hoped the film educated both at a local and international level.
Mongabay.com: What’s next on your agenda?
Bianca Keeley: I have just completed a film called Reptilian Battleground which is an fascinating story about saltwater crocodiles and sea turtles and the epic battle that takes place when they meet… so now I need a little rest and then we’ll see what’s next.
Bianca Keeley, Director & Producer
*New York City Premiere
February 2, 2013 4:00-6:00 PM PM – Purchase tickets
A prehistoric, six-foot creature moves stealthily through the ancient rainforest. A blazing, multi-colored neck flashes before one of the world’s most bizarre and dangerous birds majestically appears – the Southern Cassowary. This film takes you on an intimate journey inside the rarely seen world of these flightless giants. Cassowaries can weigh up to 85 kg, swim across crocodile-infested rivers and run at 40 kph… These are no ordinary birds.