Beginning as a cultural and religious exploration of the Japanese Monks that reside on the top of Mount Hiei near Kyoto, then transforming into a profoundly personal reflection on director Ahsen Nadeem’s own life, Crows Are White is an acute meditation on the powers, and limitations, of religious fervor.
Christian Gallichio, The Playlist
As Crows Are White begins, and for most of its running time, Ahsen Nadeem, its director and central onscreen subject, is keeping a secret from his mother and father. Across the many miles that separate them from their oldest child, all they want is for him to find a nice Muslim girl and settle down; Dawn Blackman, the woman Nadeem loves, is not Muslim. “I’ll be honest with you,” he announces to the audience in the opening seconds of his tender and often quite funny documentary. “I’m a fantastic liar.” – –
Nadeem isn’t afraid to look foolish or lost in Crows Are White, a film that abounds in lovely oddities and gently loony surprises. His initial focus, and the place to which the first-time filmmaker repeatedly returns over five years of shooting, is a monastery atop mist-enshrouded Mount Hiei, near Kyoto, Japan. There, the loveliest surprise is the friendship he forms with a young, low-ranked and mildly disgruntled monk named Ryushin, who harbors the dream of being a sheep farmer in New Zealand, where he once studied, and whose predilections include elaborate French sweets and the music of Slayer, Slipknot and Megadeth. “Heavy metal,” the genial monk says, “represents my crying heart.”
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter