Movie Reviews

Sundance 2022: Nothing Compares, All That Breathes, Tantura | Festivals & Awards

For the trio who run a clinic for Black kites, the film’s title, “All that Breathes” is an unbreakable ethos. Saud and Nadeem were raised by their mother to respect all living creatures. But after two decades worth of work, a crumbling ecosystem instigated by reckless human activity, is causing kites to fall from those heights. Everyday, in fact, more and more birds require the help of the trio’s strained and modest operations, located in a shabby garage.

Poetic flourishes, as elegant as a bird’s flight, pervades Sen’s study; an acute depth of field centers the creatures—rats, birds, hogs, mosquitos, and so forth—teeming, unnoticed by humans, in the city. One enrapturing scene frames a snail crawling across the frame while the orange glow of a bomb fire rages out-of-focus in the background. Sen melds these small, significant wonders with the big, violent protests breaking across Delhi, which seems to dance on the trio’s periphery, decrying a xenophobic citizenship law. The pace in Sen’s film is never hurried. But the political and ecological aims always feel urgent. Tender and necessary, “All That Breathes” shares another frightening side of nature’s fragile state.   

Israelis call it the “War for Independence.” Palestinians refer to it as “Nakba” (the Catastrophe). During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, in Tantura, one of the many forcibly depopulated Palestinian villages, such an atrocity occurred. Nearly 75 years later, however, everyone knows about it, but no one wants to talk. No one except Teddy Katz, a former graduate history student whose controversial Master’s thesis on the massacre led to his school, the Israeli government, and a group of Israeli war veterans discrediting his research. Armed with 140 hours of audio interviews with Jewish and Arab eyewitnesses, Katz is still fighting for the truth to be heard.  

Whether a massacre occurred isn’t up for debate in director Alon Schwarz’s infuriating, jaw-dropping documentary “Tantura.” The filmmaker talks with the remaining, pained survivors and the veterans—most of them in the ’90s—to mine their memories. Nearly all of the former soldiers deny any war crimes occurred. Schwarz often uses Katz’s audiotapes as a check, akin to the docuseries “The Last Dance,” by handing the interviewees tablets with their own confessions recorded decades ago. Many of them, in blood-boiling fashion, laugh off the stories of murder without any regard for their heinousness.  

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