The Central Park Effect Directed by Jeffrey Kimball Fri., June 23 at 2 p.m. at Discovery HD Theater. Also on Sun., June 24 at 10 a.m. at AFI Silver 1.

Filmgoers expecting grisly, Law & Order-style crime scenes or strolling couples being terrorized by gangs of similarly attired, near-feral youths will be surprised to find that The Central Park Effect refers to the relationship between urban parks and migrating birds. Jeffrey Kimball’s elegantly paced and beautifully photographed film documents a full cycle of seasons in New York City’s historic park, concentrating primarily on our feathered friends, both transient and residential, and the engaging and idiosyncratic people who observe and catalog them. The camera catches more than 100 different species of birds, including a vibrant variety of warblers, woodpeckers, and one wild turkey. And the human cast includes an ailing matriarch, a precocious teen, and amateur birder/professional literary darling Jonathan Franzen. While one gentleman compares the experience of seeing an unusual bird species to spotting a movie star “on the sidewalk,” The Central Park Effect offers a brief segment featuring an actual movie star: red-tailed hawk Pale Male, the subject of the 2009 feature-length documentary The Legend of Pale Male.

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