All That Breathes (2022): Shaunak Sen’s Documentary–Sundance Film Fest Winner, Best Documentary Feature Nominee

Shaunak Sen’s impressionistic docu, All That Breathes, entails two Indian Muslim brothers dedicated to bird rescue, amidst other political concerns.

All That Breathes
Courtesy of Sundance Institute/Kiterabbit Films

All That Breathes, Shaunak Sen’s novel documentary, defies the conventional use of formal interviews, or omniscient narrator to provide information about Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities, worse than Beijing.

Instead, the environmental impact is depicted by the story of two resident brothers dedicated to urban bird rescue.

They also worry about anti-Muslim policies that trigger waves of protest and violence.

Like Sen’s prior feature Cities of Sleep, which revealed the networks providing places of rest for Delhi’s homeless, All That Breathes is a compassionate portrait of individual resourcefulness over despair.

Shaunak Sen’s quietly provocative documentary, the aptly titled All That Breathes, focuses on two brothers dedicated to rescuing birds of prey injured in the polluted air above New Delhi.

High above New Delhi, birds of prey known as black kites have for years routinely been falling from the skies due to injuries sustained from pollution or manja, the dangerous cotton threads of paper kites that slice through their wings.

For decades, brothers Mohammad Saud and Nadeem Shehzad—who believe in the interconnectedness of human and animal life—have taken it upon themselves to save the birds.

The birds are seen by the general city population as nuisances despite their essential role in the city’s ecosystem.

In is hypnotic, poignant, and beautifully crafted documentary, New Delhi–based filmmaker Shaunak Sen immerses himself with Saud and Shehzad.

Jointly, they offer a portrayal of a struggle to make change that doubles as a diagnosis of a city rocked by turmoil.

The film is a portrait of heroic siblings, as well as by humanity plagued by climate change and on the brink of COVID.

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance World Documentary competition and the L’OEil d’or for Best Documentary at Cannes.

A Sideshow and Submarine Deluxe release in association with HBO Documentary Films.

It’s a vivid, seemingly micro documentary with more serious macro concerns.

Oscar Context:

All That Breathes received a nomination for the 2022 Best Feature Documentary Oscar.

Hindi with English subtitles