New Documentary Film, The Condor's Shadow, Premiers at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

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Good Eye Films New Environmental documentary Explores Status of Condor Restoration and Effect of Lead Ammunition on Recovery

Captive bred condor #79 flys free over the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge

Captive bred condor #79 flys free over the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge

If we could just get individuals to take a little extra effort and eliminate those human caused mortality factors, I think the condor would recover. - Jesse Grantham, former coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Condor Recovery Program

Filmmaker Jeff McLoughlin announces selection of his film, "The Condor's Shadow," into 2013 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, held January 24 – February 3, 2013 in Santa Barbara, CA. This environmental documentary explores the ongoing challenge of rebuilding a self-sustaining population of California Condors in the wild. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival ( is recognized for its selection of a number of Oscar winning films and stature as one of the industry’s most sought-after screening circuit destinations.

"The Condor's Shadow" ( is the soaring chronicle of the passion and commitment being applied today to the restoration of this iconic symbol of American wilderness. The Endangered Species Act enabled funding for the program to pull the bird from the brink of extinction in the early 1980s. Today, the condor’s ten-foot wingspan once again casts a huge shadow over the rugged terrain of California, Arizona and Utah and Baja, Mexico. But as the film reveals, the condor’s recovery remains a work in progress. Full time scavengers, California condors ingest fragments of spent lead ammunition they pick up in the remains of hunter-shot game. Thirty years after the effort to save the bird commenced, the condor remains in a state of conservation program dependency as they must be trapped and tested for lead toxicity on a biannual basis.

The 78-minute film follows U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Biologist Joseph Brandt and a feisty captive bred California condor adorned with the Native American name, Pitahsi. Pitahsi is an emblematic member of an early release group of six condors introduced to the wild in 1992. Bred at the Los Angeles Zoo, Pitahsi is captured on Brandt’s POV camera as an aggressive protector of her nest on a precarious cliff face. The film captures the extreme lengths that biologist Brandt and his team go to in ensuring wild nesting success for these most rare of North American birds. Brandt and Pitahsi labor in unison through the biological, environmental, and political hurdles of restoring the majestic species — an effort made more challenging by the condor’s low reproductive rate as well as the natural and human caused threats within the birds habitat.

"The Condor's Shadow" is buoyed by the slow but steady success the condor recovery program has enjoyed in recent years. Reduced to just twenty-two birds in 1982, the California condor population has been restored to over four hundred today with about half of those flying free in the wild. Commentary in the film explores the condor program’s successes and the hope offered with the widespread availability of alternatives to lead ammunition, the leading cause of condor mortality.

"The Condor's Shadow" also features the insight of wildlife biologists, volunteers and scientists from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Los Angeles Zoo, the University of California Santa Cruz, UC-Davis and the Zoological Society of San Diego. A compelling mix of environmental statement and wildlife film, the documentary draws much of its star power from Pitahsi, her condor mate and their foster fledgling, Condor #599. The film follows the three birds from an initial nest entry in by biologists in spring through to fledging of the chick in the fall. It’s an emotional and heartfelt journey that will leave you appreciative of why we must preserve the natural world.

Advocates for wildlife preservation, environmental cause leaders and fans of well-researched documentaries alike will find "The Condor's Shadow" enriching, motivational and worth standing for.

The film will screen at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Wednesday, January 30 at 1:20 p.m. at the Metro 4 theatre and again on Saturday, February 2 at 10:00 a.m. at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
For screeners, contact producer and director Jeff McLoughlin at 805/451.1096

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