LISTEN by Maria Douza wins Best Feature Film at 21st Dhaka International Film Festival (Women Filmmakers Section)

The Greek feature film, LISTEN (ΑΚΟΥΣΕ ΜΕ), written and directed by Maria Douza, was
awarded Best Feature Film at this year’s Dhaka International IFF Women Filmmakers’
Section. The film which was realized as a Greek-Bulgarian co-production (Steficon Films –
Ars Digital), premiered in the Thessaloniki Film Festival (International Competition), and so
far has participated in Cairo IFF, Tallinn Black Nights and Dhaka IFF. Next it will screen in
Sofia IFF, the Greek FF in Berlin and more.

When deaf teenager Valmira (EFTHALIA PAPACOSTA) comes to live on her father’s (YIORGOS PYRPASSOPOULOS) island away from her special Athens school, she faces the possibility of prejudice and discrimination. Aris (DIMITRIS KITSOS), a Bulgarian immigrant boy, bullied at school, offers to become her friend and ally. But his status as “other” makes him unwanted company for Valmira. Misjudging Aris, also because of her impairment, Valmira looks down at him and mixes up with his worst enemy, bullies’ leader Marios (NIKOS KOUKKAS), deeply hurting Aris and triggering conflict between the boys. When an unexpected turn of events leads Aris and Marios to reconciliation and mutual forgiveness, Valmira, at long last, is compelled to “listen” – not necessarily with her ears – to the truth of those around her as much as that of her own self.

The film is a reflection on loneliness and isolation provoked by our inability, fear and resistance to reach out to other people. Valmira’s deafness serves as a metaphor both of our need to hear and our choice not to hear; our desire to be heard but also our refusal to listen, our egotistic preoccupation with the self. But it is also a reflection on the power of goodness in a world where cynicism passes for wisdom and evil as the only essence of human nature. Set on a winter island – by definition a metaphor of isolation and loneliness – the film follows the troubles and tribulations of people – teenagers and adults – who struggle with communication, understanding and acceptance. For although deafness may be a disability of the ear, in a metaphorical way it can be a handicap of the soul. And the only antidote to the deafness of the soul is empathy, our ability to become the other; to allow our natural tendency for compassion overwhelm us.

Efthalia Papacosta (VALMIRA) Dimitris Kitsos (ARIS) Yorgos Pyrpasopoulos (STAMOS) Yoana Bukovska Davidova (TANIA) Nikos Koukas (MARIOS) Vangelio Andreadaki (HEADMISTRESS)

Writer – Director – MARIA DOUZA Producer – MICHAEL SARANTINOS Co producer – IVAN TONEV Director of Photography – ZAPHIRIS EPAMINONDAS Gsc Editor -IOANNA POGIANTZI Original Music & Sound Art – ANNA STEREOPOULOU Set Designer – OLGA LEONTIADOU

Maria Douza is a writer – director of fiction films and documentaries among which THE TREE & THE SWING (2013), which was shown to many festivals in India including Goa IFF and Kolkata IFF, THISSION CINEMA OF ATHENS (2017) and LISTEN (2022) which will participate in the upcoming Dhaka International Film Festival in Bangladesh. Her first feature, THE TREE & THE SWING (aka A PLACE CALLED HOME) was recently bought by NETFLIX. Maria is currently working on her next feature END POINT.

Michael Sarantinos, managing director of Steficon is a graduate from National Technical University of Athens (School of Computer Engineering), visiting Scholar at Stanford University, and PhD holder from Imperial College, London. In 1992 he founded ICON Ltd in the UK, a software company based in London with presence in 5 countries worldwide. In 2000 created Steficon, where he is the Managing Director. He has worked as External Examiner for Multimedia for the British Ministry of Education (1996-2000), General Manager of Pegasus Interactive (2000-2002) and film production (2012-today). In 2012 he founded Steficon Films and has since produced a number of films and TV programs, including: THE TREE AND THE SWING (2014), by Maria Douza just bought by NETFLIX, THE SON OF SOFIA (2016) by Sofia Psykou (Best Narrative Feature Award at Tribeca Film Festival) and STILL RIVER (2018), by Angelos Frantzis (Best Director Award by the Hellenic Film Academy) and many many more. LISTEN (2022), by Maria Douza is Michael’s 6 th feature film.