UCL Urban Laboratory


Shaunak Sen: Cities Imaginaries Lecture 2023

01 June 2023, 6:00 pm–9:00 pm

All That Breathes

Oscar and BAFTA-nominated film director Shaunak Sen delivers this year's Cities Imaginaries Lecture on 1st June 2023, following a screening of his latest documentary film, 'All That Breathes' at Bertha Dochouse. As legions of birds fall from New Delhi’s darkening skies, and the city smolders with social unrest, two brothers race to save a casualty of the turbulent times: the black kite, a majestic bird of prey essential to their city's ecosystem.

Event Information

Open to







Sophie Mepham – UCL Urban Laboratory

Inaugurated in 2014, the Cities Imaginaries Lecture is an annual opportunity to hear a high-profile speaker from the world of art, film, literature or culture more broadly reflect on the relationship of their work to the city in the context of global urbanism. Previous speakers in the series have included Caleb Femi, Roger Robinson, David Olusoga, Sonjah Stanley Niaah, Urvashi Butalia, Gus Casely-Hayford, and Linton Kwesi Johnson.

This year, on June 1st, we are honoured to be screening the Oscar-nominated filmmaker Shaunak Sen’s recent documentary All That Breathes, which won the Best Documentary Prize at Cannes in 2022.

Following the screening, Shaunak Sen will join the room via Zoom to give a talk and take questions from the audience. The talk will be hosted by Professor Matthew Beaumont (English Literature), Co-director of UCL Urban Laboratory, and we invite attendees to stay on for drinks and networking to continue the conversation and share ideas.

The event will take place at Bertha DocHouse, Curzon Bloomsbury, The Brunswick which is fully accessible. Booking is essential and tickets are £5.00, which includes refreshments following the screening and talk.

About the film:
In one of the world’s most populated cities, two brothers — Nadeem and Saud — devote their lives to the quixotic effort of protecting the black kite, a majestic bird of prey essential to the ecosystem of New Delhi that has been falling from the sky at alarming rates.

Amid environmental toxicity and social unrest, the ‘kite brothers’ spend day and night caring for the creatures in their makeshift avian basement hospital.

Director Shaunak Sen (Cities of Sleep) explores the connection between the kites and the Muslim brothers who help them return to the skies, offering a mesmerising chronicle of inter-species coexistence.

"All that breathes is a strangely beautiful tale of India’s climate and political struggles."- The New Internationalist

"there is no denying the movie's power" - The New York Times

"the kind of cinematographic beauty most fiction filmmakers can only aspire towards" - Empire

About the Speakers

Shaunak Sen


Shaunak Sen is a filmmaker and film scholar based in New Delhi, India. Cities of Sleep (2016), his first feature-length documentary, was shown at various major international film festivals (including DOK Leipzig, DMZ Docs and the Taiwan International Documentary Festival, among others) and won 6 international awards. Shaunak received the IDFA Bertha Fund (2019), the Sundance Documentary Grant (2019), the Catapult Film Fund (2020), the Charles Wallace Grant, the Sarai CSDS Digital Media fellowship (2014), and the Films Division of India fellowship (2013). He was also a visiting scholar at Cambridge University (2018) and has published academic articles in Bioscope, Widescreen and other journals.

More about Shaunak Sen

Professor Matthew Beaumont

Co-director, UCL Urban Laboratory at UCL English Literature

Matthew Beaumont studied English at LMH, Oxford, before doing an MSt and DPhil at Linacre College, Oxford. He was a Research Fellow at Keble College, Oxford, and a Teaching Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford, before becoming a lecturer in the English Departmernt at UCL in 2005 and a Senior Lecturer in 2008. Matthew became a Co-Director of UCL's Urban Lab, where he is responsible for the Cities Imaginaries strand, in 2013. In 2012-13 he held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, and is currently the Department Tutor.

More about Professor Matthew Beaumont