THE PIGEONEERSa film by Al Croseri
Opened June 8, 2012, Cinema Village, New York City
2012 - USA - English - 122 minutes - Alessandro Croseri Productions LLC
Directed by: Alessandro Croseri
Featuring: Col. Clifford A. Poutre, Chief Pigeoneer US Army Signal Corps, 1936-1943
In this debut film, director Alessandro Croseri delivers a stunningly beautiful ode to combat pigeons and their pigeoneers. The documentary follows Col. Clifford Poutre at age 103 during the final year of his life and examines his innovations in the training of homing pigeons for combat missions during World War II.
Drawing on a rich array of archival footage, the film tells the story of Poutre's thirty-one years of military service as former Chief Pigeoneer of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, his successful rejection of "starvation" methods of training in favor of a system defined by kindness and care, his pigeons' remarkable feats both in combat and in civilian races, and his notable friendships with the likes of Nikola Tesla, himself an impassioned pigeon handler in the later years of his life.
Through a collection of intimate interviews and black and white photography set to the nostalgic tunes of Glenn Miller, The Pigeoneers serves up a one-of-a-kind tribute and heartfelt exploration of the complex, interdependent relationships between humans and the birds we so often overlook.
THE PIGEONEERS FILM REVIEWS
"There's no doubting that The Pigeoneers, Alessandro Croseri's documentary about the use of pigeons by the military, is a labor of love. That's true of both the filmmaker, a breeder of pigeons himself who clearly feels passionately about his subject matter, and Col. Clifford Poutre, the centenarian pigeon handler who is the film's chief subject.....Most of you will probably be unaware that pigeons served such a role, and that ignorance is precisely what the film hopes to redress. It basically consists of lengthy interview segments with the elderly colonel, clad in his military uniform, and copious amounts of archival footage and photographs accompanied by vintage Glenn Miller tunes....In an interesting digression, he talks about his friendship with famed inventor Nikola Tesla, apparently quite the pigeon fancier himself.........it seems downright unpatriotic not to celebrate the accomplishments of these birds who served valiantly and who were rewarded with such honors as the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Medal..."Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, June 11, 2012.
"This is quite an extraordinary film. It not only tells the story of Col. Clifford Poutre but it contains voluminous old film clips of homing pigeons in war. For these reasons alone, this is an important film. The late Col. Poutre was obviously a charming man with a deep love of pigeons. He makes the case that this kind of affection is essential for really outstanding performance from your birds. As he tells his life story interwoven with pictures of the Army pigeon corps it makes a compelling documentary. In addition, he tells of a variety of interesting experiments that he performed. I think particularly of the idea of a mobile pigeon loft that could be moved from place to place, the training of pigeons to fly at night in both Hawaii and New York City and the problems that New York City lights caused. He describes training pigeons to fly over water for 100 to 200 miles and how his pigeons avoided flying over mountains. He describes the behavior of pigeons released from high buildings homing to a mobile loft at Rockefeller Center and how they simply folded their wings and dove for the loft."
Charles Walcott, Professor, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Dr. Walcott is a renowned homing pigeon navigation expert and was the head of the pigeon research lab/lofts at Cornell University. Dr. Walcott famously followed homing pigeons in a single engine plane, tracking their flight routes to study their navigation patterns.
"The Pigeoneers is a love story between man and bird. After viewing Alessandro Croseri's sentimental documentary, there can be no doubt that Col. Clifford A. Poutre loved the many pigeons that he bred and trained for carrier service in WWII. By both word and deed, Col. Poutre treated his pigeons as though they were human family members, children, buddies. He believed in control through kindness. He saw pigeons as intelligent beings which would fly better if they trusted him. He accorded his birds real respect and even reverence. He reveled in their racing and military achievements and he mourned their loss in warfare and culling."
Dr. Edward A. Wasserman, Stuit Professor of Experimental Psychology, Department of Psychology, Delta Center, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Dr. Wasserman's Pigeon Research * Amodal completion of moving objects by pigeons * UI Research Shows Pigeons And People See Eye To Eye * Pigeons and people use the same visual cues * Pigeons categorize photographs of cats, flowers, cars, and chairs * Pigeons recognize human faces
"Last night I watched The Pigeoneers with my wife, an historian. She referred to the footage as "a primary historical document" because it codifies a rare and forgotten history-- that of the use of pigeons during warfare. Remarkablely, the tale is told by a 103-year-old colonel dressed to the nines in military regalia. He's the real deal because he was the "go to" guy in developing pigeons as instruments of war. The story is warm, interesting and, of course, historical. This movie is surely of interest to pigeon fanciers, military historians, or just to those who find listening to a fascinating tale a good way to pass the afternoon."
Dr. Alan Silberberg, Professor of Psychology, American University, Washington, DC
"I have just finished viewing The Pigeoneers by Alessandro Croseri Productions for the third time. Col. Clifford A. Poutre, at 103 years of age,makes an interesting presentation going back to his youth when first assigned, as a private, to the Army Signal Corps Pigeon Service in 1929. They interviewed Poutre just in time as he passed away a short time thereafter....As I watched I visualized Poutre in the 1930s, the years between the wars, spending 8 to 12 hours a day with the pigeons, at Army expense. He would have been pondering new ways for the military to use the pigeons, experimenting with the two-way flying and night flying. Also thinking up public relations projects to do with the pigeons. My memory flashes back to the spring of 1942. A group of us newly drafted soldiers arrived at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, selected because of our hobby to be in the Pigeon Service. Master Sergeant Poutre was top man by then. He had done a good job of establishing the pigeon school which we were to attend for three months. The
instructors were a handful of pigeoneers who were drafted during the previous year. One of them from West New York, NJ spoke of the "Boid on the poich". Even he chuckled with the rest of us. One of them, Charlie Fullerton, later as a civilian, moved to Seattle and became a life long friend
in the pigeon sport. Charlie later joined me as a member of the AU Hall of Fame. Others will not get the same reaction as I have to this program. You will find it interesting and a worthwhile addition to your library of pigeon viewing material. One more, as I see it."
Sincerely, Elwin F. Anderson, WWII U. S. Army Pigeoneer.
The Pigeoneers is recommended by Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Project Pigeon Watch.
The Pigeoneers is in the collection of the American Air Museum, Imperial War Museum Duxford, United Kingdom.
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