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Jaxon Hill
Jaxon Hill

All That Breathes


Depending on your level of investment, All That Breathes could be a documentary about climate change and the crucial need to understand how animals are adapting and how humans need to adapt. It could be a spiritual piece about the webs of synergistic connectivity between, well, everything that breathes. It could be a humanist meditation on how we treat each other, how we tear people down by comparing them to animals, but how really we should treat everything and everyone just a bit better. Or it might just be 91 minutes with a couple of brothers who really like birds.




All That Breathes



SHAUNAK SEN: I think they sort of stumbled into it in the most slapdash of manners. Their story goes that they used to be amateur bodybuilders as teenagers, and they were interested in matters of flesh, and tendons, and the ways in which muscles work. And once they would find injured Black Kites and would bring them up to their house and start healing and repairing them on their own.


JOHN DANKOSKY: You started our conversation by talking about what drew you to this story in the first place was the sky above Delhi, which you described quite beautifully. And I can imagine this gray haze hanging over the city. Explain a bit more about what draws these birds from the sky. What makes them fall from the sky that is so polluting that it must be harming the humans who live there too?


Parents need to know that All That Breathes is an Oscar-nominated Indian documentary about two brothers who care for injured birds in New Delhi. The two brothers the film revolves around, Saud and Nadeem, are caring, compassionate, and determined in their mission. They also engage in conversations while they work, ranging from the the trivial to shrugging off gossip about a potential nuclear war between India and Pakistan. To the camera, they talk in depth about climate change and how pollution is harming the bird population of their city. Dead and distressed animals are shown. There is also discussion about the persecution of Muslims, and news footage shows civil unrest and reports on shootings. Occasionally the brothers argue, which includes occasional swearing such as "f---ing" and "s--t."


This Oscar-nominated documentary is a thoughtful and layered meditation on a remarkable slice of modern life. All That Breathes might revolve around two brothers and their dedication to caring for the ailing black kite population of their New Delhi home, but in reality it is about much more than that. Director Shaunak Sen captures not only a passion that drives his subjects to do something admirable, but also the predicament that makes the brothers' lives unique. Environmental change and neglect cause them to contend with flooding, disintegrating infrastructure, and polluted air, which affect their home lives as well as the birds'. Meanwhile, they must be both patient and persistent in their attempts to bolster their Wildlife Rescue clinic with a government grant.


Threaded through the main narrative we get glimpses of the sectarian tensions that blight modern India and cause additional anxiety. But, wisely, All That Breathes avoids trying to lean heavily on metaphors or push an agenda. Instead it does what all good documentaries do, and asks its audience to look inward to see the world through different eyes.


Families can talk about the relationship between Saud and Nadeem in All That Breathes. How does their relationship compare to that of other siblings you know? What motivates them and what character strengths drive them on?


It is possible that the brothers were preoccupied with the turbulent real-world developments unfolding in the time that they were being filmed for All That Breathes (for three years from January 2019 onwards, according to NPR), but it seems unlikely that they would have skipped mentioning perilous kite-flying practices to the filmmaker. They have said in interviews before and after the release of the documentary, and on their website, that glass-coated string is the number-one cause of the bird injuries they treat (90 percent of them, as per the New York Times profile). If sidestepping manjha was an editorial choice, it is befuddling, since it serves no ostensible purpose for All That Breathes. On the contrary, it could be argued that the irresponsible use of such string is a greater sign of human callousness than a damaged environment, since the consequences of the string are immediate and, therefore, more immediately visible to the culprits who use it.


Navalny is a documentary film that revolves around Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and events related to his poisoning. The award was presented to the team of American production by actor Riz Ahmed and musician Questlove.


has a decent melancholic touch to its floaty poetic style. brotherhood, detachment, surviving creatures meeting creatures that view themselves as higher ones while creating a hell of a living environment for everyone around, including themselves.


The doc shows how the air toxicity in Delhi harms living beings and focuses on the kites that are saved by two brothers who also deal with the city's complications in the environmental sphere, but also in the civil sphere.


I don't know if this was meant to be depressing, it doesn't seem like it was, but that's how it made me feel. I really enjoyed how understated, and quietly profound it was, but overall it seems almost post-apocalyptic. This isn't a bad thing, it's clearly an effective documentary, but I'm just sad now. Can we stop destroying the planet yet? Thanks.


This world is falling apart and the planet is in decline so what do you do when facing a problem that feels insurmountable? You either lay down and let it wash over your depressed existence (my approach) or you go out and do something to make the world a little better and that's what these guys do and it's inspiring... they help birds. The story is interesting, the cinematography is beautiful, the direction is a little different than normal documentaries... it's great.


ALL THAT BREATHES beautifully captures the macro & micro impact climate change has on a fully functioning ecosystem through the eyes of two brothers caring for birds in New Delhi. A tranquil, contemplative & universal documentary that washes over you with its visuals & message.


The basement, the house, and the sheer absurdity of their living conditions draw you in. It was clear that the two brothers, their work and the family could become a kind of a metaphor where they encapsulated a large number of currents I wanted to be in conversation with.


While there are some overlaps, our struggle is nowhere close to being that kind of an existential battle for survival. For them, even though they do run a business for a kind of a baseline livelihood, what it would mean for the workaround birds to stop, is foundationally incomparable to what it would mean for a film to not fructify, for me.


The question of talking to subjects and generating a conversation about active consent in terms of what is okay to shoot, what is not okay, what is the grammar of that shooting, is a constantly ongoing thing. It begins right when you start talking about the project, to when you are shooting, through the edit and so on.


SS: We had to carefully choose the things that communicate what we want people to sense. Obliquely. But at the same time, we have to be careful enough for it to not be egregiously foolhardy.


D: You made this film in India with funding that is largely international, and then the film is having this global journey. I wanted to talk about the difference in scale between your last film, which you showed widely but independently through your own networks and.


D: With your film, Writing with Fire and A Night of Knowing Nothing, there seems to be an uptick in South Asian nonfiction storytelling. A growth of interest, even. Why would you say that is happening?


Cinematographer Ben Bernhard and his team capture piercing images of individual birds gliding on the wind or beady eyed in their scrutiny of the humans who seek to help them. Birds in flight turn the sky black as they congregate and swarm. Humans also fill the skies with colourful paper and cardboard kites. The addition of blurry, murky smog creates conditions in which it is no wonder that the birds crash into buildings, lose their way or tumble to the ground. Everything has an impact on everything else and creatures either evolve to cope with the conditions or die.


The brothers run a soap dispenser business but it is clear Saud and Nadeem have made many sacrifices to create and maintain their animal rescue service. Families have been neglected and personal ambitions set aside. We gain a sense of this through their conversations. That insight gradually expands throughout the film. They talk of the threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan and the growing unease over the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act that seems devised to divide communities and provoke violence. The lives of these two brothers, their friends and families become a window into wider facets of Indian society.


The Wildlife Rescue, which has been in operation for over twenty years, finds itself in sticky situations when applying for grants and funding to continue its operations. The current political climate of the part of India they are working in is tense, as increasing nationalism and violence are creating a bitter divide between Hindus and Muslims. Even in the city where they are operating, political and ideological-based violence has become rampant, exposing a different kind of issue that is not only happening to birds. The humans, too, have turned on each other, leaving wounded and dead bodies on the streets. Soon, New Delhi will be inhabitable to everyone, not just animals. This is increasingly becoming a grim reality all over the world, especially in countries that do not have as much wealth as the West.


Oscars 2023: There are always some surprises and snubs that leave audiences puzzled at the Oscars. The 95th Academy Awards was no different, with highly acclaimed films and performances being overlooked while some lesser-known works made it into the nominations. 041b061a72


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