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EL CANT DELS OCELLS, Spain 2008, 93 min

The Magi travel in search of the Messiah who has just been born.


In luminous black and white, the film tells the biblical legend of the Magi, who follow the star of Bethlehem to find the newborn baby Jesus. They embark on a journey that takes on epic proportions. Partly filmed in the mountains of Iceland, partly in the hot, deserted interior of the Canary Islands.

For his second feature film BIRDSONG, Albert Serra was inspired by a traditional Catalan Christmas carol, "El cant dels ocells" (Birdsong), in which more than thirty species of birds, large and small, celebrate the birth of Christ.


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Language: Catalan, Subtitles: German, English

Press reviews

Less a retelling of the Nativity story than a dream about it, filtered... through a sensibility that recalls Luis Buñuel and Samuel Beckett. – A. O. Scott, The New York Times

Albert Serra's Birdsong is one of his most visually striking films shot in luminous black and white it is an elemental epic that deftly blends its rustic authenticity with humour in the retelling of the biblical Legend of the Three Kings. The film balances the classical and the profane as Serra focuses on the paradoxical moments before the birth of Christianity, a time when the Three Wise Men are just three men looking for something to follow. Drawing on the legacy of filmmakers such as Dryer, Passolini and Buñuel. Serra films in masterful long takes in the remarkable other worldly landscapes of the Canary Islands and Iceland, balancing their majesty with the bodies and material humour of the wandering kings. – Tate Modern

Awards and Festivals

- Cannes Film Festival - Directors' Fortnight 2008
- MICEC 2008
- 9th Seoul Film Festival 2008
- Toronto International Film Festival 2008
- 23º Festival Internacional de Cine de Mar del Plata 2008
- 27th Vancouver International Film Festival 2008
- AFI Festival 2008, Los Angeles
- Split Film Festival 2008 - Grand Prix for Best Motion Picture
- VIENNALE 2008, Vienna International Film Festival
- BFI 2008, The Times London Film Festival
- 26th Torino Film Festival 2008
- ENTREVUES 2008, 23ème Festival du Film, Belfort - Grand Prix for the Best Motion Picture
- Melbourne International Films Festival 2008
- Norwegian International Film Festival 2008
- Filmfest München 2008
- Wroclaw Salsa Festival 2008
- Reykjavik International Film Festival 2008
- 56º Festival Intenacional de Cine de San Sebastián 2008
- Bangkok International Film Festival 2008
- Festival Internacional de Cine, Valdivia
- Copenhague Film Festival 2008
- Ljubljana International Film Festival 2008
- São Paulo International Film Festival 2008
- FICBRASILIA 2008, Festival Internacional de Cinema de Brasilia
- Estoril Film Festival 2008
- Oslo International Film Festival 2008
- Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2008
- AFI EU Film Showcase 2008, Washington
- Cinepur Film Festival 2008
- Cinemanila 2008
- Seattle Film Festival 2008
- Spanish Cinema Now 2008, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Nova York
- Hamburg Filmfest 2008
- Chicago Film Festival 2008
- 46º Festival Internacional de Cine de Gijón 2008
- 6º Festival Internacional de Cine Contemporáneo de la Ciudad de México 2009
- 22nd Singapour International Film Festival 2009
- CINE LATINO 2009, Filmtage Tübingen
- Festival du Cinéma Espagnol, Nantes
- Premis Gaudí 2009 - Best Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography
- BAFICI 2009, Buenos Aires Independent International Film Festival
- Festivalíssimo 2009, Festival de Filmes Ibéro-Latinoaméricains de Montreal
- 33th Hong-Kong Internacional Film Festival 2009
- 36th Internacional Film Festival Rotterdam 2009
- New Zealand Film Festival 2009
- Calgary International Film Festival 2009
- Around the World in 14 films, Berlin
- Batik 2009 Perugia Film Festival
- Göteborg International Film Festival 2009
- VIVA 2009, 13th Spanish & Latin Film Festival, Manchester
- Kosmorama 2009, Trondheim International Film Festival
- Seattle International Film Festival 2009
- Shanghai International Film Festival 2009
- Los Angeles Film Festival 2009
- 14ème Biennale du Cinéma Espagnol d'Annecy 2010
- Festibérico 2010 Spanish and Portuguese Film Festival, Delft
- Milano Film Festival 2016

Additional Texts

I wanted to continue along the same path as HONOUR OF THE KNIGHTS but in a more abstract sense. At post-screening discussions of HONOUR OF THE KNIGHTS, everyone admired the landscapes and said that I must really love them and know them inside out… After the hundredth time, I started to get tired of this petit-bourgeois humanism about landscapes and character. I felt that the next film should be different. We decided to shoot far away, in a place we found on Google Earth fifteen days before filming began. I went on a reconnaissance trip to Iceland, the Canary Islands and France the week before the shoot. I was looking for austere, serene locations where I could record sound directly without any noise. I don’t like the modern world. – Albert Serra


Interview with Albert Serra by Cyril Neyrat for the cinema magazine Vertigo
English and French


Director and Screenplay
Albert Serra
Lluís Carbó, Lluís Serrat Batlle, Lluís Serrat, Montse Triola, Mark Peranson, Victòria Aragonés 
Director of Photography
Neus Ollé, Jimmy Gimferrer
Àngel Martin, Albert Serra 
Set Design 
Jimmy Gimferrer
Costume Design​
Maria Colomé, Jimmy Gimferrer
Joan Pons, Jordi Ribas
Montse Triola, Lluis Miñarro
Andergraun Films
In Co-Production with
Televisió de Catalunya
In Cooperation with
Capricci Films

Distribution Details

Screening Format
DCP (2K, 25 fps, 5.1)
Blu-ray Disc
Aspect Ratio
35mm, 1.85:1
German, English
Promotion Material
Digital images
License Area
Germany, Austria, Switzerland
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