The film is the only Sundance movie to screen as part of Cannes’ Official Selection this year — a feat all the more impressive given Cannes is not known for its documentary programming. In Park City, the film picked up the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.
Directed by Shaunak Sen (“Cities of Sleep”), “All That Breathes” follows two brothers who run a bird hospital dedicated to rescuing injured black kites, which are a staple in the skies of New Delhi, India.
In one of the world’s most populated cities, where cows, rats, monkeys, frogs and hogs jostle cheek-by-jowl with people, the “kite brothers” care for thousands of these creatures, which fall daily from New Delhi’s smog-choked skies. As environmental toxicity and civil unrest escalate, the relationship between the family and the neglected kites forms a poetic chronicle of the city’s collapsing ecology and deepening social fault lines.
Submarine Deluxe, in association with Sideshow, will release the film in theaters nationwide this fall, along with a robust festival rollout, ahead of its debut on HBO and streaming service HBO Max in 2023. Submarine negotiated with HBO Documentary Films on behalf of the filmmakers.
“All That Breathes” follows the Oscar season success of another strong documentary out of India: “Writing With Fire.” That film also premiered at Sundance in 2021 and, through a grassroots campaign, went on to be nominated for the best documentary feature at the 2022 Oscars. Sources tell Variety that Sen’s film, which is lyrical and observational in tone, is being positioned as a “Honeyland”-style contender for this year’s awards race.
“The astonishing story of Saud and Nadeem, and their relationship with the majestic raptor called the ‘black kite,’ took us three years to shape,” said Sen.
“Over time, the story became symptomatic of both Delhi’s ecological and social malaise, while also giving glimpses of a rare resilience. Most of us in the crew in India have grown up associating the unmistakable white noise of the HBO logo with high-quality cinematic programming. We’re thrilled to join their roster and to work with Sideshow and Submarine Deluxe to bring this story to a global audience.”
Submarine Deluxe’s Dan Braun added: “‘All That Breathes’ is one of the great discoveries of the year. Filled with humorous and heartbreaking moments in equal measure, ‘All That Breathes’ is a stunning achievement and announces Shaunak Sen as a major voice in cinema today. We are proud to partner with HBO Documentary Films to bring the film to the public.”
The film is a Submarine Deluxe and Sideshow Release in association with HBO Documentary Films; a Kiterabbit Films and Rise Films production in collaboration with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios.
Producers include Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann and Teddy Leifer. Executive producers are David Guy Elisco and Sean B. Carroll, while co-producer is Florrie Priest. Associate producers are Sam Stanley and Guy Horlock. Charlotte Munch Bengtsen is editor while cinematography was overseen by Benjamin Bernhard, Riju Das and Saumyananda Sahi.