Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s film continues the artist’s ongoing interest in the legacy of tirailleurs, soldiers from French colonial territories brought to Vietnam to combat anticolonial uprisings during the First Indochina War (1946–1954). Because No One Living Will Listen follows Habiba, a Vietnamese woman whose father was a Moroccan soldier who defected from the French army. The film is based around a speculative letter, written by Habiba to her father—who died when she was a baby—as a way to speak to him in his absence. Because No One Living Will Listen centres the Moroccan soldiers who defected from the colonial army and whose repatriation to Morocco was hindered by the outbreak of the Vietnam War. The film complicates the historical record of the period between the end of the First Indochina War in 1954 (which is also the focus of Nguyen’s film The Specter of Ancestors Becoming, 2019) and the conclusion and aftermath of the Vietnam War in 1972 (the subject his film The Unburied Sounds of a Troubled Horizon, 2022).
Throughout the film, the Moroccan Gate—a monument located in the Thăng Long Citadel in Hà Nội (Hanoi)—appears as a symbol of the divisions between Habiba and her father, or possibly, like Habiba’s letter, as a portal that might reunite them. The gate was constructed in 1959 by Moroccan soldiers who were part of the International Control Commission, a multinational organization established to oversee the implementation of the Geneva Accords, which ended the First Indochina War and called for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Vietnam.