Private Project

LISTEN

Financial upheaval forces deaf girl Valmira (17) to return to her father's Aegean island and leave behind the School for the Deaf, the only home she has known since her mother's death when she was six. Mistrustful of her father, Stamos, and his new partner, Bulgarian woman Tania (45), Valmira tolerates her new circumstances only with the understanding that this life is temporary as her father promises to return her to Athens by the beginning of the new school season.

Valmira makes little effort to adapt to the world of the hearing and – stubbornly attached to the sign language - refuses to wear a hearing aid. This leads to misinterpretation of reality and people. Tania’s son, Aris (18) a kind-hearted boy bullied and discriminated against at school, offers to be her ally and village life initiator but his status as “other'' makes him unwanted company for her. Instead, she mixes up with xenophobe and arrogant Marios(17), who falls in love with her, but feels uncomfortable and hides his feelings from his pals. Aris tries to open Valmira’s eyes and protect her from the racist crowd. Valmira thinks that he is jealous because she succeeded where he failed. When Marios’ friends play a nasty prank on her, Marios, afraid to confront them, hides away, while Aris exposes them. Humiliated and hurt, Valmira shouts at Aris that she does not need his help. In the meantime, Stamos, who is under more pressure than he dares to admit, fails to enroll Valmira to her old school. Valmira will stay on the island; she must now survive in the real world and finish school here. She feels trapped and resentful. Her sole consolation is her love for Marios. But Marios takes ill and goes to hospital in Athens. Valmira wrongly reports to the school that Aris beat Marios and sent him to hospital. Consequently, Aris is expelled from school. His tolerance and kindness towards Valmira turn into fury, contempt and rejection. Tania accuses Stamos for not doing enough to prevent this development. With Aris estranged from her, Marios in hospital and her “family” in shambles, Valmira begins to suspect her misunderstandings and self-delusions. 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.

  • Maria Douza
    Director
    The Tree and the Swing (aka A Place Called Home - now on NETFLIX), Thission Cinema of Athens, In the Writer's Workshop
  • Maria Douza
    Writer
    The Tree and the Swing
  • Michael Sarantinos
    Producer
    The Son of Sofia, Still River, The Tree and the Swing, Thission Cinema
  • Ivan Tonev
    Producer
    Rhapsody in White, Zasukan Sviat, The Motrobike, The Woman of My Life
  • Efthalia Papacosta
    Key Cast
    "Valmira"
    Mila, All the Pretty Little Horses, Pari
  • Dimitris Kitsos
    Key Cast
    "Aris"
    Park, Free Subject, Octavio is Dead,
  • Yorgos Pyrpasopoulos
    Key Cast
    "Stamos"
    Born to be Murdered, Monday, Chevalier, Wild Duck, Safe sex etc
  • Nikos Koukas
    Key Cast
    "Marios"
  • Yoana Bukovska-Davidova
    Key Cast
    "Tanya"
    Only Human, Security, Brother of the Snail, The Russian Specialist
  • Evangelia Andreadaki
    Key Cast
    "Headmistress"
    SMAC, Little England, Black Field, Bridesmaids,
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    ΑΚΟΥΣΕ ΜΕ
  • Project Type:
    Feature
  • Genres:
    Drama
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 48 minutes 10 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 8, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    780,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
    Greece
  • Country of Filming:
    Greece
  • Language:
    Bulgarian, Modern Greek (1453-)
  • Shooting Format:
    Alexa Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2.39:1
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • 63d Thessaloniki International Film Festival
    Thessaloniki
    Greece
    November 11, 2022
    World Premiere
    Best Feature Nomination - International Competition
  • 44th Cairo International Film Festival
    Cairo
    Egypt
    November 16, 2022
    International Premiere
    International Panorama Competition
  • 26th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival
    Tallinn
    Estonia
    November 20, 2022
    Estonian Premiere
    Just Film International Competition Official selection
  • 6th WIFT GR FESTIVAL
    Athens
    Greece
    November 27, 2022
    Athenian
  • 21st Dhaka International Film Festival
    Dhaka
    Bangladesh
    January 17, 2023
    Asian Premiere
    Best Feature Film - Women's Section Competition
  • 27th_Sofia International Film Festival
    Sofia
    Bulgaria
    March 10, 2023
    Bulgarian
    Official selection
  • WoW (Women of the World) Festival
    Athens
    Greece
    March 10, 2023
    Bulgarian
    Official Selection
  • 10th Golden Linden International Film Festival
    Stara Zagora
    Bulgaria
    May 25, 2023
  • The Greek Film Festival in Berlin
    BERLIN
    Germany
    March 31, 2024
    German
    Official selection
  • San Francisco Greek Film Festival
    San Fransisco
    United States
    April 27, 2023
    North American premiere
    Official Selection
  • Lighthouse International Film Festival
    New Jersey
    United States
    June 9, 2023
    Official Selection
  • LAGFF (Los Angeles Greek Film Festival)
    Los Angeles
    United States
    June 11, 2023
    Los Angeles Premiere
    Orpheus Best Feature Award, Orpheus Best Performance Award
  • Galway Film Fleadh
    Galway
    Ireland
    July 15, 2023
    Irish Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Taoba International Youth Film Festival
    Tbilisi
    Georgia
    September 27, 2023
    Georgian Premiere
    Official Selection
  • New York Greek Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    October 8, 2023
    New York Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Festival Internazionale del Cinema Nuovo
    Milan & Bergamo
    Italy
    October 11, 2023
    Italian Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Greek Film Festival Australia
    Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne
    Australia
    October 24, 2023
    Australian Premiere
    Official Selection
  • European Union Film Festival, Canada
    Toronto - Ottawa - Vancouver
    Canada
    November 22, 2023
    Canada Premiere
    Official Selection
  • European Union Film Festival, India
    New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata
    India
    December 9, 2023
    Indian Premiere
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • SCREENBOUND UK
    Sales Agent
    Country: United Kingdom
    Rights: All Rights
  • CINOBO
    Distributor
    Country: Greece
    Rights: Theatrical
  • GALA FILMS
    Distributor
    Country: Bulgaria
    Rights: Theatrical
  • HERETIC
    Distributor
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: Airline
Director Biography - Maria Douza

MARIA DOUZA is a Greek film director and screenwriter. Since her graduation from the National Film & TV School of England, she has been living and working in Athens, Greece. Her earlier work includes many short and medium length films, a few documentaries and over hundred commercials and social awareness spots about Streetlight Kids, Domestic Violence and Energy Saving.
The last eleven years, Maria has been focusing on feature films and documentaries. Her first feature THE TREE AND THE SWING (2013), a Greek-Serbian co-production starring Mirjana Karanovic, represented Greece in many European Union Film Festivals (Chicago,Toronto, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, India etc.) and enjoyed both festival and theatre distribution worldwide. THE TREE AND THE SWING (aka A PLACE CALLED HOME) represented by EastWest Film Distribution Gmbh, was bought by NETFLIX in 2022.
After that, Maria made three documentaries, THISSION CINEMA OF ATHENS (2017, 52’) for French Canal+ series MYTHICAL CINEMAS (Greek French co-production) shown all over the world; IN THE WRITER’S WORKSHOP (2018, 63’) a documentary comprising a series of interviews with writer P. Kaliotsos on writing and the ethics of creativity; LIBERATION (2020, 15’) a short documentary on wildlife preservation organisation ANIMA. In 2020 she created (and directed in collaboration with Oliwia Twardovska) the extremely popular 54 episode TV history series, SMALL LESSONS ON A BIG WORLD, for the Hellenic Parliament TV channel. In 2023, she created (and directed in collaboration with Oliwia Twardovska) a second 24 episode history series, LASTING THROUGH TIME.
In 2021, she shot her second feature film LISTEN (2022, 108'), a Greek Bulgarian co production featuring Efthalia Papacosta, Dimitris Kitsos and Yoana Bukovska-Davidova, which participated as work in progress at the Cannes Marche du Film that year. Shown in major international festivals (Tallinn Black Nights, Cairo IFF, Sofia IFF, Thessaloniki IFF, Galway Film Fleadh, WoW festival and more) LISTEN won BEST FEATURE AWARD at the Dhaka IFF, and the ORPHEUS BEST FEATURE and BEST PERFORMANCE AWARD for Efthalia Papacosta, at LAGFF (Los Angeles) and represented Greece at the European Union Film Festivals of Canada and India. The film was recently acquired by Screenbound International Pictures UK. It has been sold to Latin America and will be dubbed in Spanish and Portuguese.

Currently, Maria is working on her next feature film END POINT, an anti-war fantasy already presented to Sofia Meetings and Galway Marketplace. After the positive feedback they received in these forums, Maria and her producer Michael Sarantinos (Steficon) decided to make this as an international film in English with an English speaking lead and began talking with financiers in Europe and Britain.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

LISTEN is a film about communication, the need to be heard and the need to hear. The need to be understood and loved. Having a deaf protagonist (Valmira), someone who cannot fully understand the world, is a dramatic as much as an aesthetic choice. Valmira serves as a metaphor for isolation and the difficulty to communicate, while deafness offers the chance to tell the story with visual means – including the sign language – and experiment with sound design.

The film was shot with a hand held camera in order to follow the actors closely and record their performances without the restrictions of carefully designed and preplanned developing shots. My intention was to get strong naturalistic performances and I was blessed to have a great ensemble of actors - who worked and prepared with commitment for a long time (including learning Sign Language). This way of filming resulted in a variety of long takes for each scene that were subsequently cut together in a dynamic editing driven by the emotional energy of the scene as much as the narrative, taking of course into account the main character's hearing disability.

If getting strong performances was one aim of the film the other was exploring the use of sound. Conveying deafness (physical, emotional and mental) gave us the chance to explore the potential and scope of sound in cinema, by experimenting with elliptical sync sound, silences, non-sync sound, effects - and music. Towards this we worked together with composer Anna Stereopoulou who typically mixes electronic sounds with classical music, voices and soundscapes. Our aim has been to express deafness - as well as isolation and loneliness - not only by use of silence or atmos, but also music and musical frequencies. So the music score has double function - that of a traditional soundtrack and that of the sound of deafness.

Deafness is a metaphor both of our need to hear but also of our choice not to hear, our desire to be understood, but our reluctance to understand. Selfishness can take many guises. The antidote to it is compassion and goodness which determine our humanity.

Finally, I would like to note that, with this film, my aim is to transcend the divide between art house and commercial, male and female, political and entertaining cinema, and make a good movie that will appeal to a worldwide audience. With new networks now operating, web channels and a new approach to international distribution more opportunities open up today than ever. Films have the power of affecting us like no other medium does. It is a great mistake to concede this privilege to Hollywood.