SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! I have no experience with having to hide who I am or who I love. That’s the great thing about cinema. We can see things through a different prism and learn to have empathy for situations that we may have never given much thought to before watching it on screen. Director Marek Kozakiewicz’s Silent Love is unconventional in that it’s shot more like a narrative feature than the typical talking heads documentary that we are accustomed to.
The Polish/German production follows a family in a voyeuristic, slice-of-life way. This gives the feeling of keeping the fourth wall intact between the subjects and the audience. It is also different from the norm in that no big, shocking events move the story along. Instead, Silent Love is more subtle, much like real life for the most part.
Agnieszka, a 35-year-old living in Germany, must adopt her teenage brother Milosz after the death of their mother (their father died before Milosz was born). The only snag that they could hit is that Agnieszka is in a relationship with a woman named Majka, which is frowned upon in the traditional “family values” oriented country of Poland. She must go through a series of interviews, with many questions about her personal life, in order to move forward with the adoption. Agnieszka wisely decides to keep her lesbian relationship a secret from the prying government officials.
“[Agnieszka] must adopt her teenage brother…decides to keep her lesbian relationship a secret from the prying government officials.”
The stress of going through such a stringent process after being orphaned while trying to care for your little brother takes a toll. Even in the “land of the free,” LGBTQ+ people go through a great deal of hate and discrimination, so it’s maddening to think about the government getting in on it to such a strong degree too. Agnieszka and Majka do not have this issue in the more open-minded Germany, where they lived together previously before Agnieszka had to go to Poland for the adoption. The film shows them in a long-distance relationship before Majka eventually decides to move in with Agnieszka and Milosz in Poland.
Silent Love has a brisk runtime of seventy-two minutes, so it’s not one of those movies where you’re constantly checking your watch. Throughout, we see instances of how strict Polish society is with gender roles and relationships, from things said by a physical education teacher, a priest, and even on Polish TV news. But, there is a lot of tender care between all three of the main subjects. They love each other, and it shows. What reason should a government have to tear such a loving family apart?
Let people live their damn lives as long as they are not hurting anyone else, is what I say. Hopefully, Silent Love can help to open other people’s minds as well. I enjoyed peering into a different lifestyle and country than my own, and the subtle story style is refreshing compared with some of the bombastic movies we are accustomed to.
Silent Love screened at the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival.