Rodents of Unusual Size refers to nutria, a giant rodent indigenous to South America. The unusual title of the film, inspired by the movie Princess Bride, can put people off. Yet the history of these feisty mammals and the determined people who hunt them is a fascinating account of a culture that is sadly disappearing from South Louisiana. From the 1930s to the 1970s, nutria were hunted as an alternative to mink. In the 80s, fur went out of fashion, and the nutria started getting out of control. Louisiana fisherman Thomas Gonzales, part Cajun and part Spanish Isleños, doesn’t know what will hit him next. After decades of hurricanes and oil spills he faces a new threat – hordes of monstrous 20 pound “swamp rats”.
Listen to Joy LaClaire’s lively and fun interview with producer Quinn Costello here.
Rodents of Unusual Size will be shown at Matheson Center for Performing Arts on Friday June 1, at 5:30 p.m.
Rodents are Invasive
Known as “nutria”, these invasive South American rodents breed faster than the roving squads of hunters can control them. With their orange teeth and voracious appetite they are eating up the coastal wetlands that protect Thomas and his town of Delacroix Island from hurricanes. But the people who have lived here for generations are not the type of folks who will give up without a fight. Thomas and a pack of lively bounty hunters are hellbent on saving Louisiana before it dissolves beneath their feet. It is man vs. rodent. May the best mammal win.
Rodents are Beautiful
Righteous Fur, a collective of fashion designers, prides themselves in utilizing nutria pelts. Their motto is “Save Our Wetlands. Wear more Nutria.” The company makes purses, hats, and other garments, even nutria bow ties, proudly sported by one of the film’s producers, Quinn Costello, who will appear at the festival for Q & A after the film. The filmmakers of Rodents of Unusual Size grew up in different parts of the country, but four years after first setting sail for Louisiana they emerged from the bayou covered in mosquito bites and an unwavering love for a place at the “End of the World” that is bursting with joy.
Rodents are Tasty?
Nutria may be showing up in homes in New Orleans, but they are also on the barbecue menu of New Orleans jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins. Yes, his smoker has a handle shaped like a trumpet, and it is so big it’s attached to a hitch on the back of his pickup truck, because he hauls it around to gigs he plays all over the Crescent City.
Rodents are Subcultural
Award-winning non-fiction filmmakers Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer have traveled to many corners of the world in search of unique stories highlighting the important environmental, scientific and cultural issues of contemporary society. With the success of several documentary projects, they continue to pursue other sub-cultural documentary subjects, including rogue economists, lucha libre wrestlers, ganja-preneurs and evangelical Christian surfers.
Forthright Radio, with host Joy LaClaire is based in Bozeman, Montana, and features interviews with dynamic and important authors, filmmakers, and persons of interest. Forthright Radio is a Beyond The Deep End production, originally broadcast from the Philo studio of KZYX fm, listener-supported Mendocino County Public Broadcasting.