An epic new documentary adventure captures on the IMAX® screen one of the most incredible migrations on earth -- and the inspiring true story of the Toronto scientist determined to discover and preserve it.
TORONTO, April 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Flight of the Butterflies, a breathtaking and internationally acclaimed documentary about the remarkable monarch butterfly, and the detective story of the citizen scientists led by a Toronto professor determined to find where they all disappeared to each Fall, premieres April 12 at the Ontario Science Centre Shoppers Drug Mart OMNIMAX Theatre.
"We are all citizen scientists," said Dr. Hooley McLaughlin, Ontario Science Centre, Vice President Science Experience and Chief Science Officer. "Occasionally, we get to work with visionary people, such as Fred and Norah Urquhart, who can guide our efforts to observe beautiful creatures like the monarch butterfly. I hope that everyone watching this film will be inspired to pay more attention to our environment and the impact we have on it."
Being compared to March of the Penguins, and based on a true Canadian story, the documentary immerses audiences in a journey of perseverance that spans thousands of miles, three countries and several generations - tracking real monarch butterflies with specialized cinema equipment.
The monarchs leave Canada to brave the elements and fly to a Mexican winter haven, where audiences will discover a truly spectacular sight: hundreds of millions of live butterflies - offspring of their parents -- set to make their journey back. The film also chronicles the passionate quest of Dr. Fred Urquhart and his wife Norah, who over three decades inspired thousands of citizen scientists to tag and track the butterflies and bring their fragile life cycle into the public and environmental spotlight.
Said Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent, who portrays the dynamic Dr. Urquhart: "Flight of the Butterflies is a truly remarkable film. I really hope audiences, especially Canadian ones, will see it. To be in the sanctuaries in Mexico with hundreds of millions of butterflies is spectacular and Dr. Urquhart's discovery is inspirational - it's all very moving. I'm very proud to have been part of this exceptional production."
The film is brought to the screen by veteran Canadian producer Jonathan Barker (Bugs!, Into the Deep), of SK Films, a world leader in films for IMAX cinemas, along with co-executive producer and co-writer Wendy MacKeigan. The film is directed and co-written by the U.K.'s Mike Slee (Bugs!) and stars the iconic Gordon Pinsent (Away From Her, The Shipping News) and fellow Canadian actors Patricia Phillips (Norah Urquhart) and Shaun Benson. The film is narrated by Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables) and edited by noted Canadian editor Susan Shipton. IMAX Corporation was founded by three Canadians in 1967; including Robert Kerr, who created SK Films in 1997 along with Jonathan Barker, and to whom the film is dedicated.
Through spectacular Giant Screen / IMAX® technology, audiences are transported into the tiny world of one intrepid creature - Dana (Danaus Plexippus) - and her offspring as they migrate north from Mexico through the U.S. to Canada and back south again to the captivating hidden butterfly sanctuaries set 10,000 feet high in Mexico.
The monarch butterfly is a true marvel of nature. Weighing less than a penny, it makes one of the longest migrations on Earth, with pinpoint navigational accuracy, to a place it has never been. Moviegoers will see inside a chrysalis captured for the first time thanks to the innovative use of MRI & micro CT scans of the insects. The close-up/macro photography work was undertaken in collaboration with Oscar® winner Peter Parks (The Tree of Life, Bugs!).
On May 6th1998, Fred and Norah Urquhart were jointly recipients of the Order of Canada, credited with "one of the greatest natural history discoveries of our time." He died at the age of 90 in 2002.
However, the fate of monarchs has changed since his groundbreaking discovery of the monarch's migration in 1976, when there were an estimated one billion monarch butterflies. That number has declined by more than half, alarming nature lovers worldwide. In 2008, UNESCO declared the monarch butterfly reserve in Mexico a World Heritage Site. Monarch butterflies depend for their survival on milkweed and milkweed habitats, which have been greatly reduced.
In March, 2013, Associated Press reported that migratory monarch numbers - tracked through the critical volunteer efforts that Dr. Fred Urquhart began - were down for a third year in a row, the lowest recorded numbers. The migration itself is classified as "threatened" and the species is classified as "near threatened" by the World Wildlife Fund. Significant portions of the film's box office revenue will go toward Monarch butterfly conservation.
Flight of the Butterflies is part of the LG Film Series.
For more information on the film, visit www.ontariosciencecentre.ca
About the Ontario Science Centre
The Ontario Science Centre delights, informs and challenges the communities we serve, enriching people's lives and understanding through engagement with science of local, national and global relevance. Since 1969, the Ontario Science Centre has welcomed over 46 million visitors, with an interactive approach that was the model for Science Centres around the world. It is the public centre for innovative thinking and provocative dialogue in science and technology, aiming to inspire a lifelong journey of curiosity, discovery and action to create a better future for the planet. The Ontario Science Centre is an agency of the Government of Ontario.
Flight of the Butterflies is an SK Films release, with major funding provided by the National Science Foundation in association with The Maryland Science Center with the support of the Federal Government of Mexico and the States of Mexico and Michoacan and FEMSA and Grupo Bimbo, with additional financial support from the Canadian and Ontario governments.
Video with caption: "Flight of the Butterflies Trailer. Opens April 12, 2013 at the Ontario Science Centre". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20130411_C3926_VIDEO_EN_25461.mp4&posterurl=http://photos.newswire.ca/images/20130411_C3926_PHOTO_EN_25461.jpg&clientName=Ontario%20Science%20Centre&caption=Flight%20of%20the%20Butterflies%20Trailer%2E%20Opens%20April%2012%2C%202013%20at%20the%20Ontario%20Science%20Centre&title=ONTARIO%20SCIENCE%20CENTRE%20%2D%20%22Flight%20of%20the%20Butterflies%22&headline=%26quot%3BFlight%20of%20the%20Butterflies%26quot%3B%20soars%20into%20the%20Ontario%20Science%20Centre%20Shoppers%20Drug%20Mart%26%23174%3B%20OMNIMAX%26%23174%3B%20Theatre
Image with caption: "Actor Gordon Pinsent, Film Producer Jonathan Barker, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Director Mike Slee, Writer Wendy MacKeigan, Ontario Science Centre CEO Lesley Lewis and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Chan at the preview of the film Flight of the Butterflies, opening at the Science Centre April 12. (CNW Group/Ontario Science Centre)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130411_C3926_PHOTO_EN_25458.jpg
SOURCE: Ontario Science Centre
For further information:
Anna Relyea, Director, Strategic Communications
416-696-3273 Cell: 416-668-1967
Christine Crosbie, Media Relations Officer
416-696-3191 Cell: 416-895-5482
Jefferson Darrell, Media Relations Officer
Amber Hawtin, SK Films
416-367-0440 x 3033 Cell: 416 930 5524