ASK WHY? Docs secures funding from Nordea Fonden and Region Syddanmarks Kulturepulje

January 9, 2023

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By 
Rachel Sheary

ASK WHY? Docs has proven year after year to be an empathy booster for students and an educational tool for teachers.

The current season has reached nineteen municipalities and over 6,000 students in Denmark - doubling in size for the second year in a row. Now with new funding from Nordea Fonden and Region Syddanmarks Kulturpulje, 2023 is set to be the biggest year yet.

For teachers, ASK WHY? is a lifeline for teaching complex issues like migration, poverty, slavery, identity and extremism. More than 80% say that their students show more of an interest in the topics featured in the films and more empathy towards their fellow classmates as a result of screenings. According to teacher Lisbet from Søndermarks School in Rønne, Bornholm, it helps students to conceptualise these issues: 

''ASK WHY? Docs gives students an opportunity to look more closely at situations, it helps them to better understand themselves and what’s happening in society."

The feedback from students themselves has been overwhelmingly positive - 70% agreed that they learned something completely new from the project, and many called it an ‘eye opening’ experience.

This season welcomed a diverse range of guest speakers to accompany the films: Yaqoub Ali spoke about his experience as a high-ranking member of the radicalised Islamic environment in Denmark to accompany An Army of Sons. After a screening of My Escape, Jwan Osman spoke about his experience fleeing alone from Syria to Denmark. Nicolaj Laue Juhl spoke about his time  as former political spokesperson for the Danish LGBT+ youth organisation after The Many Lives of Kojin. These are just three of ten amazing guests that gave context to the films. 

Oleg and the War (original title The Distant Barking of Dogs) is one of the films that had a big impact on students in 2022. Set in Eastern Ukraine on the frontline of the war, it follows the life of 10-year-old Oleg throughout a year, witnessing the gradual erosion of his innocence under the pressures of war.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, schools across Denmark have welcomed new Ukrainian students - many of whom are struggling with the extremely difficult transition they have had to make.

Kaja, a student from Øster Skole in Hjorring, told us how watching this film and hearing from director Simon Lereng Wilmont changed how she interacts with her new Ukrainian classmates:

“We will definitely talk to [our Ukrainian Classmates] more, now that we know a little more about the situation because we have just seen this documentary. We have a better understanding of how they feel and we can talk to them about it.”

We look forward to seeing an even greater impact for students and teachers in 2023.

A very special thank you to all of our generous funders for making this project possible: Den AP Møllerske Støttefond, Nordea Fonden, Region Syddanmarks Kulturpulje, Kronprins Frederiks og Kronprinsesse Marys Fond, Biografklub Danmark and Spar Nord Fonden.

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