I've never met filmmaker Alex Karpovsky in person, but from the way his movies are structured, I have to wonder if he's the kind of guy who likes messing with your head. Both his latest film Woodpecker and his 2005 film, The Hole Story, give very credible appearances of being documentaries. And you're sucked into the vibe, even if you know the film is listed in the feature section of SXSW, and then the tiniest bits make you wonder exactly what type of film you're watching anyway, and start questioning what's real and what's staged. I always feel thrown slightly off-balance during these films, but not in a bad way.
Woodpecker is about the excitement raised in Brinkley, Arkansas, when birdwatchers start to report sightings of an ivory-billed woodpecker, a species of bird that was believed to be extinct. Many of the news coverage and interviews with townspeople are genuine -- Karpovsky shot these interviews as though he were doing a documentary about the woodpecker craze. Much of the town is split into the people who are happy about the woodpecker mania, either because they're birdwatchers or environmentalists or because they're making money off the tourists, and the hunters who are upset because their hunting grounds have now become a protected bird sanctuary. Various experts on birds are also divided on whether the sightings have been authentic.