We follow one particular housing location of the EDHI foundation, created by seasoned saint Abdul Sattar Edhi, who provides a safe haven and shelter for people with no better resources. As well as Edhi and the children, the film introduces us to the exhausted and jaded ambulance drivers in their quest to make a living.
These Birds Walk is much less a documentary than it is a portrait of modern-day Pakistan. Taking place over three years, we say hello and goodbye to the boys who are returned to their families – and sadly, in some cases, we want to protest (upon one boy’s return, his uncle states that it’d be easier if EDHI had returned a corpse instead).
Providing zero narration, backstory, or explanation, Mullick and Tariq make us understand the children’s desperation, kneeling us down to their eye level, watching them grow in an all-too-familiar manner of “boys will be boys,” except it hurts. Their play-fighting stems from a place of survival. Their insights put them way ahead of their time. They talk of being “real men”, the importance of religion, the desire to be safe at home.
At only 71 minutes, These Birds Walk is definitely something to check out. It’s gritty, natural, and all too real while handing you a dose of perspective – and it looks pretty while doing it. It’s definitely a tearjerker for the faint of heart.