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Pelican Dreams

A Story of Friendship, Survival and the Beauty of Flight

In this intimate portrait of an iconic seabird species, filmmaker Judy Irving ( The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, an Indie smash hit!) follows a wayward, starving California brown pelican from her “arrest” on the Golden Gate Bridge into care at a wildlife rehabilitation facility, and from there explores pelicans’ nesting grounds, Pacific coast migration and survival challenges.

The film is about wildness: How close can we get to a wild animal without taming or harming it? Why do we need wildness in our lives, and how can we protect it? Pelican Dreams stars “Gigi” (for Golden Gate) and “Morro” (a backyard pelican with an injured wing), as well as the wildlife professionals who care for them.

Pelican Dreams (Rated G, 80 min.) premiered in 2014. Following a 100-city theatrical tour, the film became available
for special-event screenings and on Netflix. To inquire about planning a screening, please contact

95% “Fresh” rating

A New York Times Critics’ Pick!

“By its end, we know about pelicans’ habits, their struggles with DDT and oil spills, their interactions with fishermen. We, like Ms. Irving, have come to appreciate them.” — Neil Genzlinger, New York Times

“Eloquent, lyrical and beautifully photographed … ‘Pelican Dreams’ transcendentally takes flight.” — Randy Myers, Oakland Tribune/San Jose Mercury News

“Too beautiful for words … erases the line between human and beast.” — Erin Blackwell, Bay Area Reporter

“A charming film with heart!” —  Emma Fidel, Audubon Magazine

“Like [The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill], Irving’s study of brown pelicans is affectionate, at times humorous and reveals a sense of wonder and awe at the birds’ simple beauty.” — Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle

Download the full Pelican Dreams press kit 

Download high-res production stills from Pelican Dreams


News and Reviews

New York Times:   It’s a plane! No, it’s a bird (review)

San Francisco Chronicle:   Independent Filmmaker Zooms in on Pelicans (feature) and Review

Washington POST:   Pelican Dreams movie review: Judy Irving finds some quirky new subjects

Hollywood Reporter:   Pelican Dreams: film review

Village Voice:   Pelican Dreams tells the story of a sad pelican on the golden gate

Los Angeles Times:   Pelican Dreams documentary by Judy Irving finally takes wing

CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY:   Pelican Dreams: The Cornell Lab movie review

New York Post:   Pelican Dreams is an ode to the birds alien beauty (review)

Newsweek:   Stuck with the Bill

San Jose Mercury News:  Pelican Dreams a Lovely Flight

Audubon Magazine:   I Dream of Gigi   Gigi Lands onto the Golden Gate Bridge and the Silver Screen

Bay Area Reporter:    A Tale of Two Pelicans
KQED:   Winged Contemplation: ‘Pelican Dreams’ Dives into Bay Area Ecosystem

Huffington Post:   Filmmaker Judy Irving on ‘Pelican Dreams’

LA Observed:   Native Intelligence: Problems with pelicans

TrustMovies:   Making birders of us all, Judy Irving is back with a new documentary, PELICAN DREAMS

reel life with jane: ‘Pelican Dreams’ Doc — A Valentine to Unsung Birds

NYU News:  Pelican documentary soars

IndieWIRE – Women and Hollywood: Guest Post: Finding the Perfect Animal Doc Subject As She’s Being “Arrested” on the Golden Gate Bridge

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