Emptying The Skies

Based on an essay written by noted best-selling novelist Jonathan Franzen for The New Yorker and widely republished around the world, ‘Emptying the Skies’ chronicles the rampant poaching of migratory songbirds in southern Europe.

Songbird populations have been drastically declining for several decades, and a number of species face imminent extinction. The film explores the wonder of these tiny globe-flying marvels, millions of which are unlawfully slaughtered each year for large sums on the black market, and follows an intrepid squad of pan-European birdlovers who risk their lives waging a secret war against poachers, disrupting illegal trapping and freeing as many birds as possible.

To make ‘Emptying the Skies’, the filmmakers spent nearly a year in the field, going from mission to mission to confront poachers at critical migration pinch-points in Cyprus, France and Italy. Filming took place in Germany and Manhattan as well.

Theatrical release in Australia, Switzerland, US and Canada scheduled.


  • Year: 2013
  • Duration: 52 mins
  • Production: Ringthejing Entertainment, Sustainable Film
  • Director: Douglas Kass, Roger Kas
  • Available Versions: ENG
  • Country of production: USA



  • 2013 Zelda Penzel Giving Voice To The Voiceless Award; 2014 Laurissilva Ambassador Award (Madeira Film Festival, Portugal); 2015 Wild & Scenic Award "Best in Theme"; Sheffield Doc Fest (UK); Abu Dhabi Film Festival (U.A.E); Hamptons International Film Festival (USA); DOC NYC (USA); Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (USA); Planet in Focus (Canada); Göteborg International Film Festival (Sweden); Environment Film festival in the Nation’s capital (USA); Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (Greece); Madeira Film Festival (Portugal); Sarasota Film Festival (USA); Mountainfilm Festival (USA); St. Louis International Film Festiva (USA); Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (USA); Saratoga Film Forum (USA); San Francisco Green Film Festival (USA); Budapest International Documentary festival (Hungary); Naturvision Film Festival (Germany); Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival (Malaysia); DocPoint Helsinki (Finland); Green Film Festival Seoul (South Korea); International Air Film Festival El Yelmo (Spain).

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