A dramatic study of Chicago's "pigeon lady," a fixture of the near north side, as she makes her rounds delivering food to her feathered friends.
Pigeon Lady is an observational documentary centered around the everyday comings and goings of an elderly woman in Chicago, Clara Miller. Palazzolo films her walking, carrying a shopping bag, and stopping to toss bread crumbs to pigeons and other birds. Palazzolo’s distance from her renders the film a portrait of the city as much as it is of the “pigeon lady.” Set to classical music including Ottorino Respighi’s “The Birds,” Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 1 in D Major,” and Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde,” the film is tender and sensitive, yet hints at the humor and penchant for oddball subjects that would come to define Palazzolo’s later films. Roger Ebert called Pigeon Lady a “masterpiece” and “one of the most moving experimental films” he had ever seen.