• Country: United Kingdom
  • Initial release: March 12, 2023 (United States)
  • Film Director: Willi Anton and Faustina Arriola
  • Running Time: 20 Minutes
  • IMDB Grade: 8.2

In the remote Icelandic island of Vestmannaeyjar, a remarkable tradition takes place every summer. Teenagers Birta and Selma, driven by their passion for nature and their desire to counteract the harmful impact of human activity, dedicate their nights to rescuing pufflings, the adolescent puffins. This coming-of-age story, captured in the documentary “Puffling” by filmmaker Jessica Bishopp, showcases the resilience and interconnectedness of young adults and wildlife. Let’s embark on a journey to discover the incredible efforts of Birta and Selma, and the profound impact they have on their surroundings.

The Plight of the Pufflings

As the young puffins leave their nests and venture out to sea, they face a perilous obstacle. The lights from the town draw them inland, leading them away from their natural habitat and trapping them in dangerous situations. The confusion caused by artificial lights poses a significant threat to the survival of these vulnerable birds. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Birta and Selma take it upon themselves to rescue these lost pufflings and guide them back to the ocean where they belong.

A Glimpse into Icelandic Wildlife

Iceland boasts the world’s largest puffin population, with over half of the global breeding pairs residing on the island. Vestmannaeyjar, home to more than 800,000 breeding pairs, plays a crucial role in the conservation of these charismatic seabirds. Through the lens of Jessica Bishopp’s camera, we are transported to this remote island, where the delicate balance between wildlife and human life is brought to light. The film beautifully captures the unique environmental landscape and offers a glimpse into the lives of Birta and Selma as they navigate their way through adolescence and environmental challenges.

Filmmaker Jessica Bishopp: An Eye for Untold Stories

Director Jessica Bishopp, known for her exploration of subcultures and universal themes, brings her keen eye for untold stories to “Puffling.” Her previous works, screened at renowned festivals like Sheffield Doc/Fest and AFI DOCS, have garnered critical acclaim for their unique perspectives. Fascinated by the subculture of puffling rescuers and their connection to the larger environmental issues, Bishopp embarked on a journey to capture the essence of this extraordinary tradition. Her commitment to authenticity and her collaboration with Birta and Selma ensure that the film reflects their genuine experiences and concerns.

The Impact of Climate Change

While “Puffling” tells the story of Birta and Selma’s heroic efforts, it also sheds light on the broader issue of climate change and its effects on the island. Over the course of filming, Bishopp witnessed firsthand the impact of climate change on the puffin population and the urgent need for conservation efforts. The film serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living beings and the importance of taking action to protect our environment.

Parallel Lives: Birds and Adolescents

The theme of leaving the nest resonates throughout the film, drawing a parallel between the pufflings and the teenagers themselves. Just as the young birds embark on their first journeys, Birta and Selma navigate the challenges and uncertainties of adolescence. The film beautifully captures their personal growth and the deep connection they feel to the natural world around them. Through their experiences, we are reminded of the symbiotic relationship between humans and wildlife.

The Quiet Beauty of Vestmannaeyjar

One cannot discuss “Puffling” without mentioning the breathtaking beauty of Vestmannaeyjar. Cinematographer Anna MacDonald skillfully captures the tranquil landscapes and the vibrant energy of the island. From the rugged cliffs to the expansive ocean views, the visuals transport viewers to this remote corner of the world. The juxtaposition of the serene natural surroundings with the light pollution from the town serves as a stark reminder of the impact of human activity on wildlife.

The Resilience of Birta and Selma

Birta and Selma’s dedication to rescuing pufflings is a testament to their resilience and determination. In a society where teenage activities often revolve around parties and entertainment, these two young women have chosen to prioritize the welfare of the puffins over their own leisure. Their passion for conservation and their willingness to take action speak volumes about their character and their commitment to making a difference.

A Message of Hope and Responsibility

“Puffling” serves as a powerful reminder of our shared responsibility to protect and preserve the natural world. By showcasing the efforts of Birta and Selma, the film inspires viewers to take action in their own communities and make a positive impact on the environment. It highlights the importance of education and awareness in fostering a sense of environmental responsibility among young people.

1 Film Review

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  • In the documentary “Puffling,” Jessica Bishopp skillfully captures the remarkable journey of Birta and Selma as they rescue pufflings on the remote Icelandic island of Vestmannaeyjar. The film not only highlights the urgent need for conservation efforts but also explores the parallel experiences of the teenagers and the birds themselves. Through stunning cinematography and a compelling narrative, “Puffling” invites us to reflect on our relationship with nature and the role we play in protecting the world around us. It is a testament to the power of youth, resilience, and the profound impact that individuals can have on the environment.