Are You Listening!

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Are You Listening!
Are You Listening! (2012), film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
শুনতে কি পাও!
Directed by Kamar Ahmed Saimon
Produced by Sara Afreen
Edited by Saikat Sekhareswar Ray
Distributed by Journeyman Pictures[1]
Release date
  • October 29, 2012 (2012-10-29) (55th DOK Leipzig)
  • February 21, 2014 (2014-02-21) (Bangladesh)
Running time
90 minutes
Country Bangladesh
Language Bangla

Are You Listening! (Original title in Bengali: শুনতে কি পাও!: Shunte Ki Pao!), is a Bangladeshi documentary film written-directed by Kamar Ahmed Saimon and produced by Sara Afreen. It was the ‘Curtain-Opener’ of 55th DOK Leipzig in Germany (2012), one of the oldest documentary festivals of the world.[2] Later the film won the ‘Grand Prix’ in the 35th Cinéma du Réel held in Paris (2013)[3] and 'Golden Conch' in Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2014, India, as the best feature-length documentary.[4] It was also in the ‘Official Selection’ of the 25th International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA) in Netherlands (2012) [5] and in the New Asian Current Competition (NAC) of 25th Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in Japan (2013).[6] Earlier the film was amongst the 9 selected projects invited for Editing Lab of Berlinale Talents programme in Berlin International Film Festival 2012. In a rare move as a documentary, it was released in theatre in Bangladesh on 21 February 2014[7] in Bashundhara Star Cineplex and successfully ran for four weeks. In 2015, the film was awarded with Bangladesh National Film Award as the Best Feature (Non-fiction) handed over by Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of People's Republic of Bangladesh. Written, directed and also filmed by Kamar over a span of 20 months living in a remote coastal village (Sundarbans) of Bangladesh, it is an observational cinema inspired in Cinema Vérité or Direct Cinema style, a genre almost missing until now in Bangladesh. Set against the backdrop of Aila, (a tidal surge) that swept over Bangladesh in 2009, the film celebrates the joy, dream and the resilience of the common people of Bangladesh.


Rakhi (27) lives with her man Soumen (32) and son Rahul (6) in a small village named Sutarkhali next to the mangrove forests of Sundarbans in the coastal belt of Bangladesh. Along with around hundred other families, they live on the land for generations. On 25 May 2009, when Rahul is only four years old, a tidal surge sweeps over the coasts of Bangladesh, flooding the entire village and the lands they cultivate. Life changes for Rakhi, Soumen and Rahul as the entire village takes refuge on an age-old dyke, surviving on relief from outside. Are You Listening! is about a mother’s hope to ensure a dignified future for her son. It's about a jobless husband’s frustration for failing to provide for his family, and a community’s struggle to get back the land they have lost.


Aila’, a tidal surge swept away the coasts of Bangladesh on 25 May 2009. In December the same year director Kamar Ahmad Simon started traveling the areas, approximately 200-kilometer stretch from Bhola to Shatkhira on local boat in three months span on and off, completely unplanned. On these trips he made several stops on different locations and engaged with local debates for hours on tea-chats. On coming back to Dhaka, Kamar extracted out of these informal-chats forming a script based on these very characters and locations that led him go back to them again and again. Later in this phase, for script development and production, the film won two competitive Grant Awards from Jan Vrijman Fund in 2010.[8] Kamar also participated in the IDFA Academy Summer School in August same year to develop the idea further,[9] and in 2011 the film idea was awarded as the Best Pitch in Asian Forum for Documentary held in Kolkata.[10]

Initially the film crew was mostly formed of young film enthusiasts due to financing constraints, and the nature of montage the director envisioned. The location was an added challenge since it had no access to basic utilities such as water, electricity or food and the production was executed in a guerrilla warfare style. Sometimes the shooting was planned for a week but wrapped in three days, and sometimes the schedule extended even for three weeks without any pre-planning.

The director was obsessed with his own vision of making the film, and eventually failed to hold-up the team of the young enthusiasts. But the director’s adamancy paid off when locals kind of understood the director more than his team, and almost the entire village stood up lending a hand in any way they could support the production. Volunteers from the village were then groomed to assist in the production handling the logistics. The production continued for 20 months with a series of tours made in every other week or month. In between the shooting, the director attempted to contact editors to have an understanding of the film coming up. But the traditional editors from local industry paid less interest due to lack of understanding of Cinema Verite style. Later Kamar came across Saikat Sekharswar Ray, an editor based in Kolkata and a faculty of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and was very impressed with his work. Saikat liked the rush but agreed to edit given that he will work with the entire 170 hours of rush, something that Kamar failed to make the local Bangladeshi editors agree.

The editing was scheduled to start in August 2011, but was halted abruptly with a tragic road accident when Tareque Masud (1956 – 2011), the finest of filmmakers that Bangladesh has produced till date (The Clay Bird, Cannes 2002, Director’s Fortnight, FIEPRESCI Award, Best Film),[11] was killed. Tareque was Kamar’s mentor and had a great influence on his film-philosophy. The editing started again in February 2012 when it was invited along with eight other projects in Editing Lab of Berlin Talent Campus, Berlinale 2012.[12] Yet the post-production greatly suffered due to funding crisis until again it won the competitive Grant Award from Visions Sud Est, Switzerland for post-production in 2012.[13]


  • Kamar Ahmed Saimon (Writer, Director & Cinematographer)
  • Sara Afreen (Producer)
  • Saikat Sekhareswar Ray (Editor)
  • Sukanta Majumdar (Sound Editor & Designer)
  • Delwar Hossain Maruf (Production Manager)
  • Nishitchandra Mistri (Production Manager)
  • Waseq Rahman (Researcher)
  • Jenny Zerin (Researcher)


The film had its world premiere at the 55th DOK Leipzig in Germany as the ‘Curtain-Opener’ of the festival on 29 October 2012.[2] In a rare move as a documentary, it was released in theater in Bangladesh on 21 February 2014[7] in Bashundhara Star Cineplex and successfully ran for four weeks. Before that Muktir Gaan by Tareque Masud was the only documentary that was released in theater in Bangladesh after one decade of its making and ran a week.


The Director of the European Documentary Network (EDN) and Danish film critic Tue Steen Müller wrote about the film in his blog,

A classic humanistic, cinematically brilliant work…brings back memories of the Apu-trilogy of Satyajit Ray.[14]

The 25th International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA) introduced the film as,

A gorgeously shot observational documentary… filming from an unusually low camera angle…[5]

The Jury awarding the ‘Grand Prix’ in the main international competition section of 35th Cinema du reel in Paris[15] cited,

With patience and intelligence in a hostile environment Kamar knew how to stay at the good distance of the people...he filmed to build a humanist the tradition of the feature length documentary narratives 'Are You Listening!' is a visual symphony and an ode to life.[16]

Dubai based film programmer and critic Özge Calafato wrote in the 2013 spring edition of European documentary magazine, the quarterly DOX,

Strong political content with a distinct artistic vision…doesn't want to be confined to any strict interpretation of the genre.[17]

One of the most popular Bengali newspaper Prothom Alo, with the largest Bangladeshi readership, published the news of winning ‘Grand Prix’ in 35th Cinema du reel in Paris in highlighted box in back page as a national achievement news.[18]

Also, the 15th years anniversary special publication, a coffee table book on Bangladesh’s achievement of 15 years between 1998-2013’, Prothom Alo mentioned two films – ‘Shunte Ki Pao!’ (Are You Listening!)[19] and Matir Moina (The Clay Bird) by Kamar’s mentor Tareque Masud.[20]


Awards & Accolades[edit]

  1. Best Feature for Best Feature-Length Non-fiction, Bangladesh National Film Award 2015
  2. Golden Conch for Best Feature-Length Documentary, Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2014, India[21]
  3. Best Cinematography, Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2014, India[21]
  4. Audience Choice Award, Seattle South Asian Film Festival (SSAFF) 2014, Seattle, USA[22]
  5. Grand Prix for Best Feature-Length Documentary, 35th Cinéma du Réel 2013, France[3]
  6. Jury Award, Film South Asia 2013, Nepal[23]
  7. Opening Night Film, 55th Dok-Leipzig, Germany 2012[24]
  8. Grant Award: Distribution, Movies That Matter 2013, Netherlands[25]
  9. Editing Lab Project, Campus Studio/ Berlinale 2012, Germany[26]
  10. Grant Award: Post-production, Visions Sud Est 2011, Switzerland[27]
  11. Best Pitch, DocedgeKolkata, Asian Forum for Documentary 2011, India[28]
  12. Grant Award: Script, Jan Vrijman Fund (JVF/ IDFA) 2010, Netherlands[29]
  13. Grant Award: Production, Jan Vrijman Fund (JVF/ IDFA) 2010, Netherlands[29]


Festival Category Result
55th DOK Leipzig 2012, Germany[30] Opening Film & International Competition Nominated
25th IDFA 2012, Netherlands[31] Official Selection: Panorama
35th Cinéma du Reel, Paris 2013, France[3] International Competition Grand Prix
Adana Golden Boll Film Festival 2013, Turkey[32] Official Selection
Antenna Documentary Film Festival, Sydney 2013, Australia[33] International Competition Nominated
DOK.fest München 2013, Germany[34] International Competition Nominated
Erasmus Huis International Documentary Film Festival 2013, Indonesia[35] Official Selection
Film South Asia Kathmandu 2013, Nepal[36] International Competition Jury Award
Globale Film Festival Berlin 2013, Germany[37] Official Selection
Millennium Documentary Film Festival 2013, Belgium[38] International Competition Nominated
Patmos International Film Festival 2013, Greece[39] Official Selection
PriFilmFest, 2013, Kosovo[40] Official Selection
Schlosstheater Moers 2013, Germany[41] Official Selection
Take One Action Film Festival 2013, UK[42] Official Selection
Yamagata Documentary Film Festival 2013, Japan[6] New Asian Currents Competition Nominated
Zagreb Human Rights Film Festival,2013, Croatia[43] Official Selection
Abu Dhabi International Documentary Film Festival 2013, Abu Dhabi[44] International Competition Nominated
Festival de Films Documentaries de Lasalle 2013, France[45] Official Selection
Asiatica Film Mediale 2013, Italy[46] Official Selection
Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2014, India[4] International Competition Golden Conch for Best Documentary
Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2014, India[4] International Competition Best Cinematography Award
Dok Leipzig Lake Festival 2014, India Official Selection
NALSAR Film Festival, India[47] Official Selection
Blede Festival 2014, Slovenia[48] International Competition Nominated
Stronger than Fiction Documentary Film Festival 2014, Australia[49] Official Selection
Kerala International Documentary & Short Film Festival 2014, India[50] Official Selection
Climatefilmfestival: To Future with Love, Stockholm, Sweden[51] Official Selection
Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2014, Chicago, USA[52] Official Selection
Seattle South Asian Film Festival 2014, Seattle, USA[53] International Competition Audience Choice Award
Bangladesh National Film Award 2015 National Competition Best Feature (Non-fiction)
SemaineIndienne à l’ENS 2014, France[54] Official Selection
Festival de l’Oh 2015, France Official Selection
Festival International Jean Rouch 2015, France[55] Official Selection
Images mouvementées 2015, France[56] Official Selection
La Lanterne Magique 2015, France Official Selection
Filmhaus Nürnberg 2015, Germany[57] Official Selection
Open Doors Screening, Locarno Film Festival 2016, Switzerland[58] Official Selection


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  2. ^ a b "Dok Leipzig opens tonight". 
  3. ^ a b c "International festival". Cinéma du Réel. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "MIFF'2014 Award Winning Films". Mumbai International Film Festival, (MIFF) 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Are You Listening!". IDFA. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "New Asian Currents". Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "২১ ফেব্রুয়ারি মুক্তি পাবে 'শুনতে কি পাও'". প্রথম আলো. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Are You Listening". IDFA. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "IDFA Academy Summer School 2010". IDFA. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  10. ^ "'EDN Member of the Month Sara Afreen'". European Documentary Network. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Awards list of Cannes 2002, Retrieved 26.12.2013.
  12. ^ "Berlinale Talents". Berlinale Talents. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  13. ^ "Visions Sud Est/Are You Listening!". Visions Sud Est. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Müller, Tue Steen. "DOK Leipzig Films/1". FILMKOMMENTAREN.DK. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "35th Cinema du reel 2013 Award list". Cinema du reel. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  16. ^ Corresponent, Staff (1 April 2013). "'Shunte Ki Pao!' declared Best Film at Cinema du Reel'". The Daily Star. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Calafato, Özge (2013). "The intricacies of the human condition". Dox (97): 13. 
  18. ^ Kader, Monzur (1 April 2013). "'প্যারিসে গ্রাঁপ্রি জিতল 'শুনতে কি পাও'". প্রথম আলো. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  19. ^ 15 Years: Bangladesh Prothom Alo. Bangladesh: Prothoma Prokashon. 2013. pp. 54–55. ISBN 9789849025580. 
  20. ^ 15 Years: Bangladesh Prothom Alo. Bangladesh: Prothoma Prokashon. 2013. p. 23. ISBN 9789849025580. 
  21. ^ a b "MIFF'2014 Award Winning Films". 
  22. ^ "SSAFF'2014 complete list of winners". 
  23. ^ "The QFX Jury Award, Film Southasia". 
  24. ^ "Dok Leipzig opens tonight". DOK Leipzig web archive. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  25. ^ "Movies that Matters, Supported Projects 2013" (PDF). 
  26. ^ "'Shunte Ki Pao!' in Berlinale Campus". 
  27. ^ "Visions Sud Est Post-Production". 
  28. ^ "'We Are Listening!' with Upashana Salam". 
  29. ^ a b "IDFA Bertha Fund 201". 
  30. ^ "Webarchiv". DOK Leipzig. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  31. ^ "Film Archive". IDFA. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  32. ^ "Desert of the real world documentaries". Altinkoza Film Festival. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  33. ^ "Are You Listening!". Antenna Documentary Festival. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  34. ^ "29. Internationales Dokumentarfilmfestival München". Dok.fest. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  35. ^ "Film International". Erasmusindocs. 
  36. ^ "FSA 2013 selections". Film SouthAsia. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  37. ^ "Globale films 2013". Globale. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  38. ^ "International Competition". Millenium International Documentary Film Festival. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  39. ^ "Are You Listening!". International Film Festival of Patmos. 
  40. ^ "Lineup of fifth edition of Prifest". Prifest. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  41. ^ "Are You Listening!". Schloss Theater-Moers. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  42. ^ "Are You Listening!". Take One Action Film Festival. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  43. ^ "HRFF 2013: Lineup". 11.Human Rights Film Festival. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  44. ^ "Feature Films Competition". Abu Dhabi International Environmental Film Festival. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  45. ^ "Films participating in the 13th Edition". Festival De Lasalle. 
  46. ^ "Programma 2013". Asiatic Film Mediale. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  47. ^ "NALSAR Film Festival 2014". 
  48. ^ "Bled Film Festival 2014". 
  49. ^ "Stronger than Fiction Documentary Film Festival 2014". 
  50. ^ "IFFK 2014". 
  51. ^ "Klimatsatsning med filmpremiär". 
  52. ^ "Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2014". 
  53. ^ "SSAFF'2014 complete list of winners". Seattle South Asian Film Festival. 
  54. ^ "Programme de la semaine indienne 2014 à l'E.N.S de Paris du 15 au 20 Septembre 2014". Retrieved 2016-10-20. 
  55. ^ "Comité du Film Ethnographique - Festival Jean Rouch". Comité du Film Ethnographique - Festival Jean Rouch (in French). Retrieved 2016-10-20. 
  56. ^ "Projections". Images mouvementées (in French). Retrieved 2016-10-20. 
  57. ^ "Programm". Kunstkulturquartier Nürnberg (in German). Retrieved 2016-10-20. 
  58. ^ "Open Doors". Retrieved 2016-10-20. 

External links[edit]