A film by Bence Máté
2018, 37 minutes
No. 195

The legendary pigeon races of Cairo are captured on film for the first time in this award-winning documentary which introduces viewers to a wondrous and peculiar world where pigeons are trained to compete in sky battles among rival neighborhoods for prizes, cash, and bragging rights.

The rules are simple: two teams of pigeon breeders from competing neighborhoods release some of their birds from their opponent's roof. With their remaining pigeons, each team then tries to entrap members of their opponent's flock. The team whose flock returns home with the most pigeons wins.

Koka is one of the most respected figures in Cairo’s pigeon racing world. Known as the Butcher (all the breeders adopt colorful nom de guerre's), he spends most of his time caring for and training hundreds of pigeons in his self-built wooden tower – one of hundred that dot the skyline of Garbage City, a neighborhood that’s home to the city’s Coptic Christian community.

But Koka, who is nearing 30, knows that he can’t continue to pursue his passion for long. As a race against one of the strongest neighborhoods draws closer, he comes under immense pressure from his family and conservative community to marry and settle down.

Winner, Best Short Documentary, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Winner, Best Documentary, Boston Short Film Festival
Winner, Public Award Best Short, Viewpoint Documentary Film Festival
Winner Best Documentary Short, St. Louis International Film Festival
Winner, Stella Award, Black Maria Film Festival
Official Selection, AFI Docs