The Listeners

Filmmaker: Bob Hurst
Runtime: 65 minutes

What if the most important conversation of your life is with a stranger? In Lawrence, Kansas, eleven young volunteers undergo some of the nation’s most rigorous training to become suicide hotline counselors at Headquarters, a crisis counseling center since 1970. Learning how to listen and counsel with empathy and without judging proves harder and more taxing than the volunteers imagined, and mastering the skills necessary to save lives becomes a quest that will change their own forever. Including interviews with leading experts in suicide prevention, the film explores America’s least-understood public health issue in a stirring documentary about courage, service and personal sacrifice.

About the Filmmaker

Bob Hurst has been making documentary, fiction and experimental films for more than twenty years. Recent projects as director and producer include The Listeners (2016, distributed by Kino Lorber Films), a feature-length documentary exploring suicide hotlines and the volunteers who answer calls. Other recent collaborations include Sound Supervision on Destination: Planet Negro (2013) and The Only Good Indian (feature narrative, 2009); camera work on Patriot Guard Riders (feature documentary, 2011) and King Corn (feature documentary 2007), and Fall From Grace (feature documentary, 2007). He has also designed sound for permanent museum installations at the African Burial Ground National Monument in New York City and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. His current documentary project is Garden City, a portrait of the rich and complex immigrant community in the Southwest U.S. Bob is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas, where he teaches courses in documentary production, sound, aesthetics, and post-production.