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Press release 14.06.2013

Jonathan Franzen und Emptying the skies

World premiere of the film about CABS in England

Bonn/Sheffield. The activist operations by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter for better protection of migrant birds are the theme of a new documentary film that has its world premiere at the Sheffield Docs Film Festival this weekend. Under the title Emptying the skies the New York bestselling author Jonathan Franzen and director Roger Kass expose how millions of European songbirds land in the cooking pot every year, under the pretext of retaining ‘old traditions’ and ‘sustainable use’.

Bestseller author and bird lover Jonathan FranzenBestseller author and bird lover Jonathan FranzenThe screenplay is written around a group of international activists from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter, who travel every year in spring and autumn to the poaching hotspots - mainly in Southern Europe - to combat illegal bird hunting and trapping. Jonathan Franzen and the film crew shadowed the operations - now well known internationally as CABS bird protection camps - for more than two years before the results were ready for the silver screen. The film locations were in Cyprus, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

In addition to impressive scenes, which vividly present the viewer the scale and destructive powr of bird killing, the film shows how British, German and Italian CABS members risk life and limb to prevent rare bird species ending on the tables of poachers or gourmets. On Cyprus, where the film team and the conservationists discover huge trapping sites with mist nets and limesticks, Jonathan himself only escaped an attack by irate poachers by the skin of his teeth. Other members of the team were not so lucky and two Italian conservationists required hospital treatment after being beaten. “I hadn’t thought I would end up in a war zone” remarked Franzen..

Jonathan Franzen, who achieved worldwide fame with his novels Freedom and The Corrections has for years been an enthusiastic bird watcher and conservationist. The film Emptying the skies is the adaptation of a more than 20 page article on hunting of migrant birds in Europe that he wrote for the New Yorker magazine, and which was published earlier this year in his collection of essays Farther Away(Fourth Estate, London) Contact for further information: Committee Against Bird Slaughter, David Conlin (international affairs), An der Ziegelei 7, D-53127 Bonn, Tel.: +49 172 3946671, mail:, web:

V.i.S.d.P. und Kontakt für weitere Informationen: Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e.V., Axel Hirschfeld (Pressesprecher), An der Ziegelei 7, D-53127 Bonn, Tel.: 0228/665521 oder 0179 / 480 380 5, Email:, Webpage:

Link to official Facebook page of Emptying the skies:

Link to Sheffield Docs Film Festival: