There’s something almost ingrained within humans to look for a purpose. A higher calling. Something other than what’s in front of us in our daily lives. A compulsion to find something to believe in. This is the whole essence of religion and it has been a driving force for ‘man’ since the dawn of recorded time. Then organised religion came along and started placing rules and regulations on its followers.
Ahsen Nadeem is fascinated by the concept of belief. Mainly because he has struggled for years with his own faith. He travels to Japan to the foot of Mount Hiei to stay with a group of Buddhist monks who practice a rather extreme version of dedication and discipline. Crows Are White starts out as a fairly standard documentary, following one disciple while he trains for an arduous trial, but soon morphs into something else entirely.
You never really know where Crows Are White will go next. Heavy metal monks, secret marriages, bumbling expulsions and an existential crisis form just a small portion of Nadeem’s film. It’s funny, sweet, infuriating and devastating, in equal measure. While there are elements which might make you raise an eyebrow, Crows Are White is an enthralling and involving treatise on the subject of faith, family and devotion. It will make you laugh and cry.
Crows Are White screens at London Film Festival.