Month: February 2016


February 26, 2016

Democrat & Chronicle‘s Pay it Forward Columnist Erica Bryant on creating her film for the 2015 Fast Forward Film Festival

Sturgeon Song is a film about extinction, narrated by a talking fish. Video by Erica Bryant.


I will never know how the sturgeon at the Seneca Park Zoo feels about being the star of my short movie “Sturgeon Song.” When I approached the aquarium glass with my cellphone camera last year, she (or he) swam up to the glass and did not seem to object.

Perhaps one day I’ll go back and tell her that the movie ended up being a finalist in the first-ever Fast Forward Film Festival, and that she appeared on the big screens at the Little Theatre and the George Eastman House. But then people would think I am crazy.

I am not crazy. I just happen to like endangered species, especially the ugly ones. So when the Fast Forward Film Festival invited Rochesterians to submit 5-minute films about environmental issues, I made a movie about extinction that features a talking sturgeon. These bottom-feeding fish with uneven tails, long torpedo shapes and bony back and side plates had lived happily in the Genesee River and Lake Ontario for 100 million years. Sadly, human behavior in the 20th century — overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction — nearly did them in.

In the early part of the 21st century, water quality in the Genesee River had improved, and the United States Geological Survey started hatching sturgeon to reintroduce into the river. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Seneca Park Zoo have joined the effort to rebuild the population, and since 2003, thousands of sturgeon have been placed in the Genesee. Some are on display at the zoo.

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