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The Crack Magazine

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All That Breathes

Director: Shaunak Shen

This lyrical documentary with an ecological message follows two Muslim brothers, Nadeem and Saud in New Delhi, who have set up a clinic in their basement. For seventeen years they have been treating black kite birds who have fallen from the polluted sky. The kites, we learn, are essential to the city’s eco-system as they consume a surprisingly large amount of waste from landfills. The serious-minded brothers are aided by the younger, appealingly callow Salik, who grills them with geeky questions about nuclear attacks and global flooding. Intermittently news broadcasts can be heard ominously in the background reporting on the protests in the wake of India’s anti-Muslim legislation. It’s a meditative, thematically rich study of evolution and the necessity of co-existence between the species. As Nadeem stirringly states: ‘Life itself is kinship; we are a community of air.’ Benjamin Bernhard’s stunning cinematography locates a dark apocalyptic beauty in the blighted cityscapes in which kite silhouettes blur as they float into the brownish heat haze of chimney smoke, and monkeys scarper across the blue-hued latticework of wires and poles.