French director red-faced after pink flamingo fiasco

French director Nicolas Vanier is also known for being a writer and an adventurer.
French director Nicolas Vanier is also known for being a writer and an adventurer. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MARSEILLE • The aerial "attack" sent the flamingos fleeing in full flight, abandoning their eggs.

That incident made a French environmental group see red, filing a complaint with the authorities.

On Monday, French director Nicolas Vanier said he would abandon filming at a Mediterranean wetlands after a pilot sparked a panic among a huge flock of pink flamingos.

The pilot of an ultralight aircraft was scouting locations for Vanier's film, Give Me Wings, in the Camargues region, when he zeroed in on the only wild flock of flamingos in France.

"A flight plan had indeed been given to the pilot indicating the precise areas to avoid," Vanier said, adding that the operator was not directly employed by his production company.

"They wanted to have some fun by making the birds scatter - I was outraged," he added.

The France Nature Environnement association filed a complaint for damage to a protected species, saying the disruptions during the key brooding season led one of every 10 pairs to abandon their nests.

According to the association, Vanier's team deliberately tried to flush the flamingos out, in order to film them in full flight.

"These emblematic birds of the Mediterranean coasts are extremely sensitive to disturbance during brooding.

"They give up easily if they are frightened and do not come back.

"We expect great caution from all and even more from professionals who want to promote the protection of biodiversity through their media activities," the association noted.

"Five hundred pairs of the 4,500 in the colony definitively abandoned their egg," it pointed out.

Vanier, also a writer and adventurer known for films including Wolf (2009) and The Last Trapper (2004), offered to make amends by sponsoring a flamingo flock and inviting environmental groups to help present the film and use it for educational purposes.

That apparently was not enough to settle the controversy and the director added that he would finish shooting his new movie - about a scientist's passion for wild geese - in Norway instead.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2018, with the headline 'French director red-faced after pink flamingo fiasco'. Print Edition | Subscribe