Films & Schedules

  • Birdsong
    El Cant dels Ocells

  • Albert Serra

Catalan, Hebrew
98 minutes
Black and White/35mm

Production Company:
Andergraun Films/Eddie Saeta
Executive Producer:
Montse Triola
Lluis Miñarro
Albert Serra
Production Designer:
Jimmy Gimferrer
Neus Ollé, Jimmy Gimferrer
Àngel Martín, Albert Serra
Joan Pons, Jordi Ribas
Paul Casals
Principal Cast: Lluís Carbó, Lluís Serrat Batlle, Lluís Serrat Masanellas, Montse Triola, Mark Peranson

International Sales Agent:
Capricci Films

Tuesday September 0905:00PM AMC 5 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Wednesday September 1008:30PM VARSITY 5 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1205:00PM AMC 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Albert Serra's debut, Honor de Cavalleria, was a bold and original version of Cervantes's classic novel Don Quixote de la Mancha. Setting the film in a Catalan landscape and featuring dialogue spoken in the Catalan language, Serra provocatively made this Castilian classic his own. The film follows Quixote and Sancho as they wander through fields, discussing life, sleeping and taking a memorable swim – depicting pretty much everything that happens between the covers of one of the most influential works of Western literature.

Birdsong, Serra's second feature, is a version of yet another of the most widely referenced narratives in the Western world. It traces the Three Wise Men (Lluís Carbó, Lluís Serrat Batlle, and Lluís Serrat Masanellas) as they journey to pay their respects and bring gifts to Jesus Christ. In Serra's black-and-white film, we follow the three kings through the desert as they make their way to Christ's birthplace.

The journey is hilarious. There is constant banter about whether or not to climb a mountain, as two of the kings are rather hefty. They find shelter from the sun and try to sleep, but cannot figure out how to get comfortable and argue about who is lying on whom. Angels appear and pronounce the coming of the Lord. Joseph (played by Toronto critic and Vancouver International Film Festival programmer Mark Peranson) is the film's only non-Catalan speaker, opting instead for Hebrew. He and Mary (Montse Triola) watch over their newborn, sit in the sun and tend to their sheep.

Serra's filmmaking embodies a very Catalan trait: cultural protection through the preservation of one's own language. But his work goes beyond these linguistic innovations, recreating important texts in a very personal manner. As such, they are translated into his mother tongue, transported to his homeland and acted out by Serra's own friends, all of whom are non-professional actors.

Birdsong is risky and adventurous in both visual and narrative terms. Breathtaking landscapes and an especially memorable underwater scene accompany Serra's play with this sacred tale, invigorating the story with new life and meaning.

Diana Sanchez

Albert Serra was born in Banyoles, Spain, and graduated with a degree in Hispanic literature and comparative literature from the Universitat de Barcelona. His filmography includes Honor de Cavalleria (06) and Birdsong (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award