Filmmaker Jeffrey Kimball will return to town for an Art Talk
June 4, 2013
Filmmaker Jeffrey Kimball has a personal tie to the Kimball Art Center.
His late father, Bill, was the visionary that turned a garage into a three-gallery venue that also offers classes and monthly Art Talks.
This month, the filmmaker is the featured speaker who will give a free Art Talk on Thursday, June 6, from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m.
Kimball’s topic will be birding in Central Park, which is the focus of his new documentary, "Birders: The Central Park Effect."
The film’s world premiere was at the South by Southwest Film Festival earlier this year, where HBO picked it up for distribution.
Kimball said he doesn’t have time to screen the whole film in Park City, but has selected five clips that he will show.
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"I will talk a little bit about the birding community in New York City and the fact that there are thousands of birds that come and rest in Central Park," Kimball said during an interview from New York City. "I will also take questions from the audience."
Kimball conceived the idea of making a birding documentary that takes place in the Big Apple about four years ago.
"The real origin of the project came from seeing the reactions of people faces when I told them that I saw 60 different species of birds in Central Park," Kimball said with a chuckle. "They would look at me and say, ‘Are you crazy? Central Park only has pigeons.’ And I would tell them at a certain time of year in May, it was a stopping place for migrating birds."
Some of these birds include warblers, scarlet tanagers, belted kingfishers, several types of owls and hummingbirds.
"A lot of these birds you can see in Utah, but they are big news in New York, and when you think about it, it makes sense, because these birds are flying up the Eastern seaboard, and there are not a lot places that have 800 acres of trees, water, shelter and food," Kimball said. "I mean, there are a lot of bugs in Central Park."
The filmmaker felt if he made a documentary, it would be equivalent to "revealing a magic world right underneath people’s noses."
"There are millions of people who walk through Central Park each year who don’t know this," he said.
Kimball gained access to his subjects through the birding community.
"I was sort of part of (this group), when I started making the film," he explained. "(It) goes back 40 to 50 years, and I was a relative newcomer, but the people were excited to talk about their hobby."
Also, the people who are birders in New York City, aren’t what most people think birders are.
"One of the stereotypes of birders is that they are middle-aged and white," Kimball said. "New York City is not like that. It’s a multi-cultured and multi-faceted place, and the film nicely reflects that as well, when it comes to the birding community.
"There was quite a wealth of characters to choose from, and I left a lot of them on the editing floor," he said. "But I did want to show the different types of people of all ages who are in the community. In doing so, I tried to show a cross-section of New York City."
One of the surprises Kimball found was the different ages in the group.
"I interviewed everyone from a teenager to a woman in her 70s, who had been a birder for 50 years," he said.
The other surprise was realizing that Central Park is a manufactured wildlife refuge.
"I kind of knew this, but didn’t embrace it," he said. "I mean, when Central Park started out, the only thing that was in place naturally, were the boulders that were left when the last glacier came through. And even those were apparently moved around."
Everything else — the waterways, the streams, the waterfalls the forest and trees — were all completely built or planted by human beings.
"Even the streams are fed by the New York City water supply and are turned on by a switch," he said. "But it’s been about 160 years since it was built, so you can say it’s fake, but contains real nature.
"The birds are real," he said. "The bugs are real, the raccoons and the turtles that live in the ponds are real, because people would drop off their pet turtles when they couldn’t keep them."
Kimball said he is looking forward to coming back to Park City this week.
"I’m thrilled to return to Kimball Art Center," he said. "I was there when my father had the idea of turning that garage into an art center, and I came back for the dedication and have been back a number of times for the Sundance Film Festival.
"When I did come back, I would always make a point in going in to see what was happening and I’ve had friends who had shows there," Kimball said. "So, it’s great to be able to present there. I wish I could tell my father I was doing this, but maybe he’ll figure it out somehow."
Filmmaker Jeffrey Kimball will present the fee Art Talk at the Kimball Art Center, 638 Main St., on Thursday, June 6, from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. Kimball, son of Kimball Art Center founder Bill Kimball, will give a presentation about his new documentary, "Birders: The Central Park Effect." For more information, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org .