‘These Birds Walk’ stumbles, ultimately soars

Brett Stover

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Poignantly depicting life inside Edhi Home, a place where orphans and runaways in Pakistan can stay, “These Birds Walk” is a work in progress.
The documentary centers around Omar, a young boy who runs from his home on the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan and comes to live in Edhi Home.
Throughout the film, Omar appears ambivalent about returning to his family and to a neighborhood with a strong Taliban presence.  He is fed well at the Edhi Home and, aside from some rough skirmishes with his fellow orphans, seems safe.  But after his best friend at the orphanage leaves for home, Omar feels alone despite his cramped surroundings.
The other person the filmmakers follow is Abdul Sattar Edhi, who created the Edhi Foundation.  The Foundation’s goal is to help children from Pakistan who have run away or do not have a family to protect them.  Edhi, a 90-year-old diabetic, has devoted his life to this cause.
Perhaps you’re having trouble locating the focus.  So did I.  The directors, Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq, seem unable to decide what to center on.  The storytelling thread is tangled at times, wandering among the streets of Karachi like the ambulance driver in the film, another character we spend time with.
The narrative of “Birds” breaks at odd intervals, flipping from Edhi to Omar and back at inopportune moments, leaving the audience in search of the arc that binds the characters.  A prime example is a wedding scene in the middle, which doesn’t particularly further the storyline.
Despite its inconsistent focus, the heartbreaking poverty of the country washes over you, and “Birds” keeps you wondering if Omar will reunite with his family.  This documentary speaks to basic human emotions and makes the audience understand the problems facing children in Pakistan.
Ultimately the movie is worth your time.  You can catch “These Birds Walk” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Little Ragtag and 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Forrest Theater in the Tiger Hotel.  Be sure to sit in the front as the lack of stadium seating makes it difficult to read the subtitles.
By Brett Stover