Superstar Sirocco in spotlight again

Recent Otago University film-making graduate Ashwika Kapur has hit the big time with her documentary From Dud to Stud, about Sirocco the kakapo, who is the only bird in the world with a government position.

Kapur's film has been selected as one of three finalists in the newcomer section of WildScreen, one of the world's most prestigious wildlife and environmental film festivals.

The film, made as part of her post-graduate diploma course in natural history film-making and communication at the university's Centre for Science Communication, follows the intriguing life of New Zealand's only animal ambassador, Sirocco the kakapo

Kapur said when she came across Sirocco's story, she immediately knew it was the documentary she had to make.

A just three weeks old, Sirocco caught a respiratory illness and the treatment required meant he had to be hand-raised and kept apart from other kakapo. As a result he became imprinted on humans and thinks he is one.

In 2010, after several years taking part in conservation awareness efforts, he was named "Official Spokesbird for Conservation" by Prime Minister John Key.

"Sirocco is irresistibly endearing, cheekier than a monkey and remarkably bizarre in his mannerisms. He is an extraordinary character and his story is equally extraordinary; a true-blue 'rag to riches' tale, as it were. My film sets out to tell that story; the weird and wonderful tale of a kakapo catapulted, by a strange chain of events, to superstardom," she said.

Kapur is currently working as an associate producer on Natural History NZ's new India series but plans to take a few days off from that hectic schedule to get to the WildScreen Festival in Bristol in October.

After the festival, Sirocco will be sharing the "global online premiere" of the film with his thousands of fans around the world.

From Dud to Stud is the latest chapter in a long history of success for the Centre of Science Communication at WildScreen. The centre has had its student films accepted as finalists in the newcomer category in four of the past five festivals, and one of those nominations won the award in 2006.

The Southland Times