Film Review: These Birds Walk

At one stage in childhood most people run away from home, or at least contemplate it, out of revenge to unfair parents or because no one understands you. Maybe you only made it to the back garden or hid behind the trees until it got cold and you needed to use the bathroom. But for the young lost boys and runaways in Pakistan, it’s a raw emotional journey of escape and finding a new place to call home.Directed by Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq, These Birds Walk is a documentary, three years in the making, which delves into the lives of runaway children in Karachi, Pakistan who have fled abusive households and found refuge at the Edhi Home and Ambulance Centre.It is here a group of boys, who like all boys, wrestle, tease and play, are introduced. Unlike most children however, they have all grown up in dire environments of abuse and poverty, and wait in fear for their parents to find them or of being taken home.The narrative truly focuses on the minds of the children as they suffer neglect, depression and homesickness, torn between staying at the orphanage with their new brothers and returning home. Omar, a boy in the orphanage, prays before he sleeps trying to find answers: should he go back to his brothers and sisters, stay at the home, or perhaps take his life? Mullick and Bassam capture emotive footage of them crying, comforting each other, dreaming of the future and in prayer.Although the documentary at times is quite tender, it is also an incredibly heart-warming story about the individuals who care for the children at the orphanage. The film begins with founder of the Edhi Home and well known humanitarian, Abdul Sattar Edhi, bathing young malnourished orphans. The modest man reveals he doesn’t know the names of any awards he has won for his humanitarian work or the articles or books written about him. He only knows that if people want to find him, one only has to look among ordinary people to find his story.Perhaps one of the most important figures Mullick and Bassam investigate is a dedicated ambulance driver who takes the children home. The audience is given insight into the difficulty of his job, knowing the neglect some children are returning to. Some parents are naturally relieved to see their child return home and others aren’t bothered with one uncle stating, “He would have been more use to us if you brought back his corpse”.These Birds Walk is a unique and raw documentation of youth, friendship, poverty and belonging. You may cry, laugh or be inspired by the kindness of everyday people, but most importantly, you will gain an insight into life in Pakistan for many Abbey Casey

August 19th 2013
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