A thousand years ago Zoroastrians from Greater Iran fled to the western lands of Southeast Asia to evade religious persecution. They became known as the Parsi as they settled into southern India.  In just a few years, the number of Parsi living in Mumbai is estimated to decrease to such a point that they will no longer be labeled a community, but a tribe.  Similarly the vulture population lies on the brink of extinction. 

The use of Diclofenac, an anti inflammatory given to cattle in the 1990s, resulted in a 99.9% decline of the vulture population, with the birds dying a slow and painful death from acute kidney failure and gout. Though the use of Diclofenac has been outlawed, the vultures are still scarce to see. Requiem for a Bird gives the Parsi the opportunity to introduce their culture and the importance of ecological conservation to the world before it is too late.

 

 

Requiem for a Bird explores the singular relationship of the Parsi and the vultures.  The two have been linked through death for centuries, with the bodies of the Parsi faithful brought to a Tower of Silence, and as final act of generosity, laid out for consumption by the vultures. Though the Towers still stand, the Parsi and the vultures now fight for their futures.

 

This short documentary is a synthesis of traditional documentary interviews with animation and choreographed dance. It illuminates the  private  and public  lives of  the  Parsi through their spiritual relationship to the vultures. We journey through Mumbai and its outer regions, meeting members of the Parsi community, listening to their hopes and fears for the future and learning of the efforts to save the vulture population.

 

Original Version, password protected

English subtitles, password protected

Deutsche Untertitel, Passwort geschützt