These Birds Walk

 

These Birds Walk

Cinematography by Omar Mullick

Film Editing: Sonejuhi Sinha

Music: Todd Reynolds

Sound: Damian Volpe

Colorist: Chris Ryan

Produced by Omar Mullick, Bassam Tariq, Valentina Canavesio & Sonejuhi Sinha

Directed by Omar Mullick & Bassam Tariq

USA Theatrical Release, November 2013

 

Cast:

Abdul Sattar Edhi

Asad Ghori

Omar, Shehr Ali, Humeira, Mumtaz, Rafiullah & Saqib

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Editorial & Post Production: Final Cut USA

Video: Oscilloscope Labs

 

Video:

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 480i

Feature size: 3.08 GB

Bit Rate: High (ca. 8.5 Mbps)

Runtime: 72 min

Chapters: 14

Region: All

 

Audio

Urdu Dolby Digital 5.1

Commentary: English Dolby Digital 2.0

 

Subtitles

Optional English

 

Extras:

• Feature-length audio commentary with directors Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq
• 7 Deleted scenes (17:40)

• Theatrical Trailer

 

Presentation:

Custom Gatefold Case

Release Date: April 29, 2014


 

Synopsis [Oscilloscope]

In Karachi, Pakistan, a runaway boy's life hangs on one critical question: Where is home? The streets, an orphanage, or with the family he fled in the first place? Simultaneously heart-wrenching and life-affirming, THESE BIRDS WALK documents the struggles of these wayward street children and the samaritans looking out for them in this ethereal and inspirational story of resilience.


                           


About the Directors

Omar is a photographer, cinematographer and filmmaker. His work as a photographer has appeared in the New York Times and National Geographic, and has received multiple awards. His project ‘Can’t Take It With You’ was fea­tured in a solo show at the Gallery FCB in Chelsea, New York. Selected works have shown at the Safe-T gallery in Dumbo. Commercial works include skate videos and television shows for MTV. THESE BIRDS WALK is his first feature film. In 2012, Omar was selected as one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine.


Bassam is an independent producer who has produced feature stories for TIME magazine, Boing Boing, Atlas Obscura and Huffington Post. He is also the co-creator of the viral travel blog30 Mosques in 30 Days in where him and a friend traveled across America highlighting the lives of American Muslims. The project was highlighted by NPR, BBC, Huffington Post and named CNN’s Top Newsmakers of 2010. This is his first feature film. In 2012, Bassam was selected as one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine.


                           

 

The Movie : 9

Critical Reaction:

Los Angeles Times

"These Birds Walk" opens in the darkness just before dawn with a young boy racing into the tide. Shirt and shorts are soon soaked, the sense of freedom absolute. Omar is only 9, but he's been running for most of his life. He is one of Pakistan's lost children and the centerpiece of this affecting new documentary that throws open a window on his world. . . Shot over several years, the result is a remarkably assured documentary that shows us, as much as tells us, about a forgotten generation growing up in strife and poverty. Deeply moving and devoid of melodrama, "These Birds Walk" is as pragmatic as its subjects. No one seeks pity here, or saving. Mullick and Tariq follow survivors. The most compelling footage comes from the months the two New York-based filmmakers spent inside one of Edhi's small hostels for runaways and the foundation's ambulance-dispatch office next to it. There they found their stars — Omar, the Pashtun boy from the film's opening, and Asad, a former street kid who now drives one of the ambulances. Asad splits his time between retrieving the bodies piled up by ethnic fighting, street crime and gang warfare and returning the runaways to their families.


                           


There are no talking heads in the film. There are no title cards with the numbers of runaways. No statistics on their fate. There is, however, extraordinary footage, as if Mullick, Tariq and their cameras are sharing space with the rest of the flies on the wall as Omar, Asad and others from the streets, their voices unrestrained and uncensored, tell their stories. . . Some of the stories are heartbreaking. One young boy is unable to hold back the tears as Asad drives him back to a family with a history of beating him. Still, this is not a dark film. Omar brings an unaffected effervesce, the footage is poetic, and the score is haunting. The story may be anchored to Asad and Omar, but "These Birds Walk" serves as a reminder of the resilience of children and how little it takes to keep hope alive.– Betsy Sharkey


                           

 

Variety

Documentary subjects don’t come much more shy than Pakistani humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi, though the same could hardly be said for the attention-starved Karachi street children his world-renown welfare org attempts to shelter and support. Edhi, who claims to have forgotten the names of all the awards he has won, found his calling in caring for the country’s neediest children, and even though his foundation now operates hundreds of clinics and aid centers catering to individuals of all ages, it’s the kids who remain his primary concern. After the opening scene, which observes Edhi carrying out his weekly ritual of bathing the scrawny, bird-like infants, the subsequent footage focuses mostly on a handful of slightly older kids assigned to the same Karachi youth home. Approximately 10 years old, agitated Pashtun boy Omar quickly seems to forget he is being recorded. Whether sprinting along the center’s stone benches or picking on the other kids, he shows an alarming degree of aggression toward his peers. As he recalls an incident in which his parents beat him (and wears the scars that reveal a history of such abuse on his face), Omar brags that he “only shed a single tear.” But he’s not as tough as he claims, and the cameras later observe him crying after his bullying backfires. – Peter Debruge


                           

 

Image: 8

As I am fond of saying regarding Oscilloscope releases, most of what’s required is simply to get out of the way of the transfer process and not add “enhancements.” Ditto this sentiment for the present release, to which I would add that the HD video source itself is a very good one, if not stellar that has all the benefits and liabilities of the medium - here put to creative use by the photographer and editors - with superb color correction work by Chris Ryan.


                               


Audio & Music: 9/9

Despite the lack of an uncompressed format (which, as we know is not available on DVD except in stereo, for some reason), Todd Reynolds’ evocative, shimmering music score is tastefully balanced with Damian Volpe’s sound production. If anything, the soundscape here comes across more strikingly than the video reproduction.  Surround environmentals and a sense of acoustic space are always vividly preserved. We have the impression that we are very much there - in the hallways, cabs and streets. Dialogue, though I can’t understand it, seems clear enough - a difficult feat when you realize that from one moment to the next in some of these scenes, because there is so much un choreographed movement, no one knows who will become the focus.


                           

 

Extras: 7

Bonus Features include an assortment of deleted scenes (there must have been miles of such moments that didn’t make it into the final cut) in nearly as good shape as the main feature itself, and an engaging, informative audio commentary by the directors, Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq, who let us in on the back stories of the participants and creative process that folded all of that into the movie before us.


                           

 

Recommendation: 9

A self-guiding documentary whose only voiceover narration is supplied by the participants themselves as they philosophize on their condition. That said, this DVD has an advantage that theatrical screening doesn’t have: a feature length commentary - in English - by the filmmakers that takes us behind the scenes into the creative process. It’s like a documentary on a documentary. As for the film, I cannot but be impressed by its matter of fact otherworldliness in the context of a circumstance and agency not entirely foreign to me.  I have some personal experience with lost boys and have lived with them at the same age as those in the film. Their candor about themselves and their passion is what I found most surprising – and illuminating. We can imagine with painful clarity where this or that child will be when he grows up – if he grows up. Abuse coupled with practiced religious ritual is a hothouse for fanaticism, and all that goes with it. Yet many of these boys have hope, at least to avoid that path and go another. Warmly recommended.


                           


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

May 2, 2014


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