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Sticky. When extinction is not forever

An enlightening movie about extinction. An amazing real story directed and animated by the young director Jilli Rose.

It could look like a fable as many others. A hand is scrolling the titles on the spine of some books in an old library. Once hesitant, then it rests peremptorily on the title of a book, opens it and the adventure starts. This is how Sticky begins: the animated documentary that racked rewards up, among which Best Short Award at San Francisco Green Film Festival 2014, member of Green Film Network.


The images tell us the engaging story about how a little group of stick insects (arthropods, that belong to Phasmatidae family, thin and elongated insects that look like dry twigs) lived through the extinction on a cliff under a little bush, despite the repeated attacks by the human being. The incredible event happened on Ball’s Pyramide, a promontory near Lord Howe island, a little corner of Australian paradise nominated World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

We are told how the human being caused the extinction of most of the native organisms of the island. That land, initially stable, in balance and uncontaminated, is now following a destiny that will lead it up to become a simple aggregation of sterile soil, exploited by agriculture and livestock. A narrator comments most of the documentary: explaining and clarifying all the events, from the discovery of some stick insect specimen to the long and draining bureaucracy to obtain the authorization for the captive breeding, until the return to their natural habitat.

A meaningful, instructive and essential short film. The word “extinction” loses its absolute meaning: Dryococelus australis, that was supposed to be extinct in the ’60s, has been rediscovered by a lean handful of heroes who find a little group of these huge insects (almost 15 cm) under a little bush on a cliff. 24 specimens has been found. A proper case of “Lazarus species”, as the scientists like to define the species they give up for lost before miraculously finding them again.

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A positive story that touches the public and instills hope in the spectators.“There are so many cruel and worrisome stories in the movies about the conservation theme. It’s easy to feel hopeless when watching them. I’m a big fan of good news and energizing effects of an optimistic story. This one electrified me when I read it for the first time. I was surprised that a so incredible conservation happened under my nose and I didn’t know anything about it.  I set the animation I was working on aside immediately and started the pre-production of this film” Jilli Rose writes, describing the project to potential supporters on the web.“I tell the story through the animation to make it as attractive as possible: I address to children through the same cartoons, and speaking to adults thanks to colour beauty, composition and movement. I immersed every frame with an unlimited quality of love and colour, I want to delight every eye that watches the film and get it to a wider audience as possible”.

While watching the film, an air of tragedy and famine exudes. But just as the drama changes to commitment and will, a hymn to life, passion and people who still believe that happiness is in everyone’s heart rings out: even the small things can help making humankind big, along with the beings that brush against this world with us.