Are You Listening!

- BANGLADESH / 2012 / Bengali / Color / Blu-ray / 89 min

Director: Kamar Ahmad Simon
Editing: Saikat Sekhareswar Ray
Sound Design: Sukanta Majumdar
Producer: Sara Afreen
Source: Maëlle Guenegues / CAT & Docs

In 2009 a tidal wave hit the southern coastal belt of Bangladesh, causing many who live there to lose their homes. One hundred households were forced to evacuate in Sutarkhali village. Although global warming causes flood damage to worsen every year, there are no signs that the government’s promise of new embankments will ever be fulfilled. Without them, these communities will lose their homes to the depths of the oceans, so children and adults band together to build their own levies. Focusing on the everyday lives of a young married couple and their son, this film depicts a strong, yet flexible lifestyle lived against water.

[Director’s Statement] As I was preparing for my first feature in 2009, after I had just given up architecture and a stable career in advertising, a tidal wave hit the coastal belt of Bangladesh. Almost a million were left homeless, and stranded under the open skies on an age-old dike. I heard the world buzzing about climate change, looking for someone to take the blame.

Living in the comfort of a city, I was privileged to have access to both the global buzz and local visuals. Gothic clay-figures from the daily newspapers started rallying in my dreams; I could hear the footsteps of a million people marching forward, bathed in mud and naked. Friends started cracking jokes, “Bangladesh may not survive the 21st century.” Some even started to opt for migration.

Sitting right in the middle of the catastrophe of the millennium, I was a disturbed witness of my time. I stalled my feature project, set out on a local boat and ended up traveling the entire coastal belt in the coming months. I started out in anger, but returned with hope. I started writing a script for the world to share a tale of believing in breathing, in dreaming and in celebrating against all reason.

- Kamar Ahmad Simon

Kamar Ahmad Simon was born and brought up in the old lanes of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. His early childhood was characterized by conservative social structure and discipline. His debut feature documentary Are You Listening! (2012) earned him critical acclaim as the curtain-opener of 55th DOK-Leipzig, an official selection of 25th IDFA and the “Grand Prix” at the 35th Cinéma Du Réel in Paris. Simon studied architecture, had a career in advertising and was gradually drawn to film. To better learn the craft Simon has attended the European Producers Workshop by EAVE, the Berlinale Talent Campus, the IDF Academy Summer School, the Asian Forum for Documentary, and the Asian Film Academy (AFA) in Busan. Simon’s first feature script Silence of the Seashell has been awarded with Script Grant from Göteborg International Film Festival. His new project has been selected for The Asian Pitch 2013, a joint venture project of NHK (Japan), KBS (Korea), PTS (Taiwan), and MediaCorp (Singapore).