Regienotizen zu „All That Breathes“

My first feature-length documentary, Cities of Sleep, explored New Delhi through the lens of sleep. By focusing on the ‘sleep mafia’ of Delhi (these are people who control who sleeps where, for how long and what quality of sleep – for the homeless), I leveraged sleep as a political, philosophical and aesthetic prism through which to consider the city. As a method, I am deeply interested in looking at everyday banal phenomena that usually occupy the fringes of our vision, as objects of rigorous study. Through this film, I want to harness the enchantment of the sky. I want audiences to leave theatres and instinctively look up –to think of the sky and the birds in it as novel, wonderfully alien things.


At the most nascent level, my interest in the ‘more-than-human’ (as it is called in geography terminology) began during a fellowship in Cambridge University in 2018, under a research project called ‘Urban Ecologies.’ I began developing a deep interest in the behavioral and evolutionary changes in animals in Delhi prompted by air pollution. Coupled with this was asense of unease many of us felt towards the escalating social tension in India. Focusing closely on the figure of the black kite opened up not just the environmental but also the most pressing socio-political dramas of our times.


I am not interested in making either conventional ‘nature-based’ programming or a ‘wildlife’ documentary. My focus is neither limited to the life of the human protagonists nor the avian ones. The city itself –replete with the many human-animal ensembles in it –features in the film as a character.In recent months, Nadeem and Saud have felt under siege from factors other than Delhi’s ongoing environmental catastrophe. The family grapples with the seismic ecological and political changes taking place around them and their relationship with their work comes under severe stress.


The film experiences many of these macro-level changes through intimate details, as the family processes and deals with them. Sometimes through trepidation, sometimes through instinctive fear, sometimes withwry humour, occasionally with ugly in-fighting, but mostly –with quiet courage.


Shaunak Sen