Documentaries as an empathy-booster



Photographs: THE WHY Foundation

Text: Cecília Tümler


Awareness of human rights is the first step in the fight against violence and abuse. That’s the core belief of THE WHY Foundation, a Copenhagen-based NGO working to share knowledge through documentaries.


The organisation‘s project ASK WHY? Docs bring international films about human rights to Danish school students. This initiative has proven to be effective in raising awareness and compassion, illustrated by teacher Anette Sørensen in her describing it as an “empathy-booster.”


This fall, the initiative gathered almost 1700 teenagers in watching and debating three documentaries. The films are followed by Q&As with experts, all happening in cinemas across the country. “The atmosphere in cinemas make students raise their focus, creating a sense of community and changing their perspective”, explains Merete Monberg, leader of the project at THE WHY.



“After watching the film, the students said they had a better understanding of what it must be like to come from another country, as a refugee, at their age.”

One of this year’s titles, At Home in The World, goes deep into the lives of refugee school children in Denmark. School teacher Anette from Esbjerg, one of six participating cities, was impressed by the impact of the programme. “It was an eye-opener for everyone. After watching the film, the students said they had a better understanding of what it must be like to come from another country, as a refugee, at their age.”


Fifty-six screenings later, this edition of ASK WHY? Docs leaves no doubt that information really is power - to change the world and awaken empathy.


Learn more about THE WHY on their website: www.thewhy.dk