As the Gull Flies


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March 1 to April 21 2024
All Day Event
160, chemin Tour-de-l'Isle
Île Sainte-Hélène
Montréal, QC Canada
H3C 4G8

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For all

A film by Liz Miller

  • Duration: 12 minutes
  • With Vincent Donzé, K.P. Morgan, Angus Tarnawsky, Anna Houston

As the Gull Flies explores the relationships between ring-billed gulls, Montreal residents, urban toxicologists, and waste experts and the tensions that arise from the presence of a wild animal that has adapted to thrive off of human discards.

Each May on the island of Île Deslauriers, just a few kilometres from Montreal’s East end, 70,000 ring-billed gulls arrive to breed. This spectacular event is an opportunity for toxicologists to observe the gulls in order to understand the contaminants they are exposed to while feeding at the nearby landfill. But what to make of the fact that these protected migratory birds, while a subject of concern from biologists, are at the same time a nuisance to nearby city residents or sanitation workers? And, what happens when the toxic waste that humans have squirrelled away is spilled back into the environment through the gulls’ daily movements?

The documentary As the Gull Flies delivers an immersive portrait of the ring-billed gull from multiple, partial and conflicting human perspectives, and asks the questions: What can the gulls teach us about adaptation? Toxic exposure? Spatial Navigation? How do gulls, often referred to as urban scavengers or waste animals, hold up a mirror to our own evolving relationships to waste? The project asks us to consider “Who is the waste animal?”


Anna Lippold, Jonathan Verreault, Stephanie Mercure, Francis St. Pierre and the gulls of Île Deslauriers.


  • Producer and Director - Elizabeth (Liz) Miller
  • Cinematographer & Editor - Vincent Donzé
  • Project Advisor - MJ Thompson
  • Additional Cinematography - Deborah Vanslet, Elizabeth Miller
  • Script Advisors - Anna Houston, Deborah Vanslet
  • Sound Design - Angus Tarnawsky
  • Data Visualization, Technical Support - K.P. Morgan
  • Production Support - Émilie Trudeau
  • Title Concept - Isabelle Boucher
  • Data Research - Anna Lippold


Liz Miller is a documentary maker, scholar, and professor interested in new approaches to community collaborations and documentary as a way to connect personal stories to larger social concerns. Years of experience in community media and a background in political economics and electronic media art fuel her explorations of new media as art, advocacy, and as a powerful educational tool. Liz is a Full Professor in Communications Studies at Concordia University in Montreal and her documentary projects on social issues such as climate change, refugee rights and the environment have won international awards, been integrated into global curricula and influenced decision makers. She is the co-author of Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice, a vital resource that draws on the expertise of over thirty creative practitioners across theatre, communications, and history.

Vincent Donzé is a Swiss cinematographer and editor studying as an undergraduate in Communication Studies at Concordia. His passion for filming art, sports, and outdoor events have influenced his interest in the poetics of movement and cinematic simultaneity. When he is not working on films, he is competing in wakeboarding, snowboarding, or other competitive sports.

Angus Tarnawsky is an Australian artist, musician, educator, and researcher pursuing a PhD in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University. He brings an expertise in electro-acoustic improvisation into contemporary sound designs and his current research addresses everyday listening practices in urban spaces.

K.P. Morgan is an MA student in the Communication Studies program at Concordia University with a passion for teaching and for bridging art, open-access technology, and literacy. He has years of experience as a freelance videographer, motion graphics designer, and writer/editor.

Anna Houston is writer, artist, food researcher, event manager and cook who is pursuing her MA in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia. Through films, podcasting and writing she explores food cultures, fermentation, microbiology, sensory perception and human/non-human relationships.

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