I was one of the lucky 750 guests during the opening ceremony of the 55th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, which opened its gates on October 29, 2012. Watching the premiere of the film Are you listening? by Kamar Ahmad Simon (director / cameraman) and Sara Afreen (producer) was a real treat. And there are many reasons why you’ll enjoyed it too.
Are you listening? is a film that brought me very close to a small family living in a coastal area of Bangladesh. It depicts the story of people living on the fringe, exposed to the catastrophic consequences of climate change. The region was severely hit by cyclone Aila on May 25, 2009. Three years later, people are still struggling with the aftermath of that catastrophe.
Director Kamar Ahmad Simon’s passionate observation underlines a keen interest in his protagonists. He doesn’t exploit the images of poverty and misery that surround the people in the area. He constantly tries to capture the unique moments of their daily lives and manages to expose the underlying yet unshakable strength they possess. After watching Are you listening? feeling pity is the last thing that would cross anyone’s mind. The film has a strong message: Miseries and hardship can never extinguish human dignity.
I tried to read the faces of the audience after the screening – and most of them looked like they felt the same. It was a feeling of joy and shame at the same time. I was glad to see such a wonderful work. I was glad to know that these people are still living. But I was ashamed to realize that I have done little to make their lives a bit easier.
It is wonderful that the film is being shown at the Docfest Leipzig. But Kamar and Sara deserve much more. This film is the result of a lengthy and painstaking work. I wish their film would be gain a much wider audience.
To get an idea of what this film is about, make sure to watch Kamar and Sara as they talk to festival director Mr. Klaas Danielsen and program director Ms. Grit Lemke about Are you listening? right before the screening: