All that Breathes: a dreamlike flight to Delhi

Picture of the film ALL THAT BREATHES by Shaunak SEN © Shaunak Sen

In Delhi, Shaunak Sen has devoted his documentary All that Breathes to the incredible relationship formed by two brothers with the black kite, a diurnal bird of prey with a grey head with dark streaks, a citizen in its own right of this sprawling city of 25 million inhabitants. Beyond its environmental dimension, this film from the Indian director, presented as a Special Screening, takes on a philosophical tone about nature and urbanism.

Recognisable with its black beak, its bright yellow iris and its yellow claws, it nests in woody and stony areas. It is also more or less omnipresent in the city, alongside the cows, rats, monkeys, toads and pigs that populate Delhi. Like a number of other birds that soar through its sky, the black kite regularly crashes into buildings, disturbed and poisoned by the city’s black air, 12 times more toxic in 2017 than the second most polluted city in the world, Beijing.

In All that Breathes, a poetic chronicle that tells the story of Nadeem and Saud, transformed by necessity into highly qualified surgeons of the migratory bird, Shaunak Sen draws the parallel between the collapse of urban ecology and rising social tensions, to which his protagonists bear witness.

Cities of Sleep, his first documentary, denounced the “sleep mafia” that imposes its rule on those forced to sleep in the streets of Delhi. This time, Shaunak Sen focuses on those who keep their eyes open. “When leaving a screening of All that Breathes, I want viewers to feel the instinctive desire to raise their heads to the sky and to become aware of its magic.”