All That Breathes (Sydney Film Festival) – Film Review

Directed by Shaunak Sen, All That Breathes is a documentary film that follows two brothers from New Delhi that rescue injured birds that fall from the polluted sky.

Set in New Delhi, India where we meet Nadeem and Saud, who make a living making soap dispensers. In their spare time, they find passion and purpose in collecting birds known as the Black Kites who have been sick or injured due to the polluted air in New Delhi and nursing them back to health.

This documentary uses several techniques to tell its story such as fly on the wall footage, interviews, and narration by both Nadeem and Saud. While I respect the work that these two do and believe it is very noble of them to look after these sick and injured birds, I must admit that watching them in their day to day lives does not make for the most riveting documentary. The film can become rather tedious quickly, and I felt that it was dragging on from time to time. Some of the conversations that are shown in the film be a little awkward to witness, involving long pauses between responses which you can’t help but wonder why they weren’t edited out to exclude the gaps.

I do not enjoy watching animals being in discomfort, so I was relieved that the film didn’t focus on showing the birds in pain but rather the brothers treating them. It is enjoyable to see how knowledgeable the brothers are when it comes to caring for the birds. One moment which stood out, was one of the locals who was constantly being attacked by a nearby birds’ nest, was shown by one of the brothers on how to avoid being attacked. I enjoyed this scene as it displays how good natured and educated Nadeem and Saud can be.

I also enjoyed some of the more playful moments, such as Nadeem and Saud playing office cricket and getting into little arguments on whether the batsman was out or not, and who should bowl, which I found reminiscent of the times when I used to play backyard or school cricket, relating to the same little arguments. These scenes may be minor thing, but I believed it helped to break up the serious subject matter of the film, while also addressing that regardless of how old you are, you can still get into childish arguments while playing games with your friends.

All That Breathes is a film with a lot of heart and a touching subject matter. Due to some extended scenes that could have benefited from being shortened, plus the repetition of watching the daily lives of Nadeem and Saud, can leave you feeling unfulfilled in what I felt could have been a much better documentary.

All That Breathes had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and won the ‘Golden Eye Award’ otherwise known as the ‘L’Oeil d’Or’ at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. All That Breathes will be showing as part of the 2022 Sydney Film Festival on the 10th and 11th of June 2022.

For more information and ticketing, visit:
https://www.sff.org.au/program/browse/all-that-breathes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.