WATCH: Award winning filmmaker describes New Delhi’s toxic air

All That Breathes is the first film in history to win Best Documentary at both Sundance and Cannes festivals, and is now tipped for an Oscar.

The story follows two New Delhi brothers who teach themselves how to rescue black kite birds from the impact of the city’s notorious air pollution. 

At risk of literally falling out of the sky due to toxic inhalation, the siblings – Nadeem and Saud – have now helped around 25,000 of the rare species escape the worst effects of the atmosphere over 15 years. 

New Delhi is considered the world’s most air polluted metropolis, although there are major problems across India. According to a Lancet Planetary Health report released last year, a staggering 17.8% of all fatalities in the country can be attributed to the dangerous atmosphere. This equates to around 1.7m individual deaths, which in turn represents one-sixth of all air pollution mortalities across the globe. 

Nevertheless, as Air Quality News reported in June 2022, policymakers in the capital hit back at successive studies which showed an air pollution crisis had begun. Effectively denying any ‘linear relationship’ between deaths and air pollution, the claim was made shortly after a University of Chicago Air Quality Life Index measurement estimated 40% of the city’s population would have their lives cut short because of what they were breathing. 

In a bid to increase the awareness of this, and celebrate the vital work of Nadeem and Saud in saving black kites in the area, filmmaker Shaunek Sen set about making ‘All That Breathes’, which began to screen late-2020. Speaking to Democracy Now!, he explains the reality of living under a relentless cloud of smog. He says the film itself is about trying to ‘open the conversation and not close it.’ 

Hear what he has to say in the clip below, then learn how India’s Supreme Court took unprecedented and controversial action to try and clean up the air in a case of judicial overstretch dictating political policy

Image: Cyril Joseph


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1 year ago

Good way to recognize and acknowledge everyone about the issue.

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