A film by Hamy Ramezan & Rungano Nyoni
Social Justice, Denmark (2014) | 13 mins
Words by Ben Callinan
A woman sits in a Danish police station dressed in a burqa. She speaks Arabic, which is translated into Danish by an interpreter. She tells of the violent abuse her son and her suffer at the hands of her husband. We listen to her story, several times. It is told from her perspective, from the perspective of the interpreter and from the perspective of the Danish-speaking police officers. Yet despite the woman’s best efforts to explain the horror of her situation the police officers struggle to grasp what she needs.
Listen explores how we fail to communicate and in turn, how we fail to understand. The woman’s desperate cries for help are rendered to the police officers as angry and incoherent ramblings. The barriers between language, culture and appearance are too great. It demonstrates that without the ability to listen to each other it will be impossible to find common humanity and compassion.
Listen sharply depicts how the same rights and protections are not offered to all. The Danish police officers want to be helpful but societal structures place the woman before them as an outsider whose cultures and practices are alien. The film asks us to pay attention to those who ask us for help – to not do so, we risk placing them in fatal danger.