‘Birds’ filmmaker offers insight into life of orphans in Pakistan

Brett Stover

Filmmaker Omar Mullick answers questions following the first screening of “These Birds Walk” at the True/False Film Festival. The venue for this show was in the Tiger Hotel. Photo by Brett Stover

SPOILER ALERT: “These Birds Walk”
For a first-time True/False moviegoer whose only experience with films is Forum 8 or Hollywood Theater, it may come as a surprise when the house lights don’t come on after a show ends.
Even more surprising might be that the audience erupts into applause as the credits roll and the director or someone from from the documentary steps in front of the screen for a question and answer session.
After the first showing of “These Birds Walk” Thursday, the film’s co-director Omar Mullick answered 30 minutes of questions ranging from the music selection to how the two years he had spent filming in Karachi, Pakistan had changed him.
One question regarded the shooting of a scene where Omar, a boy in the film, runs through a market and into a shrine.  After convincing the ambulance driver to let Omar go to the shrine, Mullick, who said he filmed skateboarding for MTV, was forced to chase him through a busy marketplace.  The single-shot scene lasts nearly 60 seconds, during which Omar is caught by a police officer, escapes up a flight of stairs and, with the filmmaker chasing behind, breaks through security.
The shrine Omar enters, Mullick said, was blown up by a suicide bomber four or five days after the scene was filmed.
In addition to questions about the cinematography, audience members asked about what Mullick suggested they do if they wanted to help these orphans. Mullick, said during the course of filming he spent time repeatedly coming to the orphanage unannounced and that he believes Abdul Sattar Edhi, creator of the Edhi Foundation, is an “absolutely righteous” man. Mullick said even though Edhi as a “deeply religious man,” he makes sure his charitable work is completely secular.
“The country trusts him,” Mullick said, “even though the government is corrupt as heck.”
After investing so much of his own time developing this project, Mullick, a former photo journalist,  said his views on the Pakistani government have shaped his outlook on the needs of the children he filmed.
“I became a bit of a fanatic by the end of the film,” Mullick said.  “[I] wanted to help the kids.”