you think the burqa is empowering, try wearing one for a week in August. Then
try reporting your violent and sexually abusive husband to the local police,
despite not speaking the local language. A translator ought to help, especially
a woman, but reality will be tragically different for the battered wife in Hamy
Ramezan & Rungano Nyoni’s short film Listen
which screens as part of the Interferences
programming block during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
cannot speak Danish and she cannot remove her burqa. She has fled her home,
taking only her young son with her, hoping and expecting the Danish police will
provide shelter. However, she never anticipated the interpreter would
deliberately mistranslate her pleas. The translator is also a woman, but clearly
she considers herself an Islamist first and foremost. She duplicitously tells
the police the woman is seeking divorce advice, whereas she tries to convince
the increasingly desperate woman to trust her imam to resolve her marital
takes about five seconds to understand just how isolating and alienating the
burqa truly is. Had her face been visible, her expressions and her bruises would
have told the cops what the interpreter deliberately mistranslated. Listen is a relatively short thirteen
minutes, but Ramezan & Nyoni still patiently take their time, showing the
initial police interview from each party’s perspective, to fully establish the
tragic significance of the situation.
we never see her, Zeinab Rahal’s body language still constitutes a harrowing
performance. Just think how good she could be unshackled from the burqa.
Likewise, Amira Helene Larsen discomfortingly projects the assurance of a blind
believer. Nanna Bottcher also nicely hints at the police woman’s nagging
suspicions, but Alexandre Willaume’s knuckle-dragging police man is film’s only
As a strong follow-up to Ramezan’s previous solo
short film, Keys of Heaven, Listen forcefully announces it is time
for the Finnish-Iranian filmmaker to graduate to full features. Its treatment
of issues facing Muslim women is both stinging and sensitive. Highly
recommended as an eye-opener with serious dramatic chops, Listen screens again as part of Tribeca’s Interferences short film program this Monday (4/20), Friday (4/24),
and Saturday (4/25).
Labels: Hamy Ramezan, Scandinavian Cinema, Short Films, Tribeca '15