A Sauropod Abroad
A Sauropod Abroad follows Calgarian paleo-artists Brian and Mary Ann on an unusual road trip from Calgary Alberta to Transylvania Romania with a life-sized dinosaur sculpture in tow. The film captures not only the trials and successes of the adventure, but also their commitment to each other, and the depth of their creative bond. Their story takes place amid a cross-cultural journey to bring science and art to the unsuspecting people of Europe.
Awards and Accolades
Best Feature Documentary- Brasov International Film Festival and Market 2016, Best Woman Filmmaker- Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival Nov 2016, Winner Silver Remi Award- Houston WorldFest 2017, Official Selection- Chandler International Film Festival 2016.
"...a breath of fresh air within the documentary scene... This is a great film, an adventure which is easy to recommend."- Bucharest Film Awards
Synopsis- From the 2017 Bucharest Film Awards
‘A Sauropod Abroad’ is a documentary feature with a unique subject. In the summer of 2014, a Canadian family came up with a unique plan: Brian Cooley and Mary Ann Wilson designed and had a real-life representation of a Magyarosaurus built – a dwarf dinosaur measuring about 7 metres, fossils of which were discovered in the heart of Transylvania, Romania. Joined by their daughters Emily and Anna, they embark on a journey crossing several European countries with the dinosaur strapped on the back of their trailer. Their purposes for undertaking such an idiosyncratic action were, apart from personal satisfaction, making people aware of the history of the Earth, prompting science understanding across cultures, and last, but not least, making passer-byes happy and excited.
The documentary follows the entirety of their experience, shining a spotlight not only the route which they take, but also memorable events which occur during the travel, technical issues, customs problems, personal worldviews, and of course, quite a few surprises along the way. Highlights include the family parading their dinosaur around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, taking it for a drive whilst dressed up in German colours through the streets of Munich just after Germany had won the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and Brian getting arrested right before the Austrian border for accidentally forgetting to pay for a gas refill. They stop at a number of natural reserves in Germany and Hungary before crossing into Romania, and passing through Brasov, a Transylvanian medieval city, going all the way to the Danube Delta and the shores of the Black Sea, and traversing through the capital city of Bucharest just before taking the dinosaur to its ‘home’, in Hateg.
The film is mostly comprised of footage taken during the voyage, but also contains a few interview scenes, snapshots, time lapses and even a short animation. Director Anna Cooley does an outstanding job with directing the film, putting together some really beautiful shots of the dinosaur in various locations. With backdrops ranging from the Eiffel Tower to medieval churches, mountains, the seaside and a sunflower field, the Magyarosaurus seems to fit in with each and every one of them, much to the delight of the locals. In each of the locations they pass through, the Cooleys and their dinosaur are greeted with smiles, laughter, excitement and applause. The 7-metre monster brings people together, breaks their routine and for a brief while, makes them forget their worries, problems or socio-economic status and simply enjoy the moment.
A Sauropod Abroad follows my parents Mary Ann and Brian on one of their many adventures: navigating a life-sized dinosaur sculpture across Europe. Their specimen is a sauropod called Magyarosaurus, and it is their task to relocate it from Calgary, Alberta, Canada to Hateg, Transylvania, Romania. They have been building dinosaurs together for over 30 years and their relationship with each other and with their art has always fascinated and inspired me. When they told me about their plan to see the sights of Europe with a seven-metre dinosaur I did everything in my power to join them in order to document their remarkably unconventional journey. With this film I wanted to candidly show the characteristics that have driven my parents to live such interesting lives, engaging and inspiring the people around them, while still managing to remain humble and understated. As lifelong best friends they have always spent their leisure time brainstorming wild ideas and coming up with ways to make them happen. My goal was to capture that magic. I wanted to tell their story with Europe and a dinosaur as the vessel for their adventure. My sister Emily was on the trip as the coordinator, and her reflections throughout the journey stand in for my own thoughts and observations.