37th BFI Flare 2023
24 & 25 March 2023 SOLD OUT
March 15, 2023
SILENT LOVE is a coming of age and a coming-out story about taking on new roles, and redefining the old ones. It’s a tender story about the courage to love despite all the fears.
Hi Marek, thanks you for talking with The New Current, how has your 2023 been treating you so far?
I can’t complain. Lots of travelling - festivals and Q&As all around the world. Lots of good things happening.
You won the First Appearance Award and Best Polish Film Award at the 2022 Millennium Docs Against Gravity, and you also got several nominations including the Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance 2023, did you imagine your debut feature would get such an incredible, and inspiring reaction?
I hoped for it and I believed in it. Although there were of-course moments of strong doubt. But I felt there is a tender, beautiful, universal story to tell. It gave me fuel through out 5 years of making the film.
What does it mean to you to have your debut feature documentary Silent Love in the HEARTS section at the 37th BFI Flare?
It’s a great honour and privilege to be a part of BFI Flare, which is the biggest LGBT Film Festival in Europe. To be appreciated by both the British Film Institute as well as the LGBTQIA community is very important to me.
Will there be any nerves ahead of the screening or are you able to enjoy the ride?
Hehe, always a bit of nerves. Maybe it’s because it’s my first film and I still didn’t get used to it. Anyway I tend to be a bit stressed when it comes to appearing infront of a larger audience. But that doesn’t change that I really enjoy every meeting with the audience of my film. The chance to talk to people that chose to see your film is something special. An exchange of energy that makes you want to make films.
How essential is it for LGBTQ+ filmmakers to continue to push the boundaries of the stories and themes they want to explore in their films?
I believe a documentary filmmaker should push the filmmaking process in a direction that affects the protagonists in a good way. And if you can remain that process pushing boundaries of the story to the limit that’s perfect; but if you feel it could have a bad effect on your protagonists sometimes it’s better to do a step backward.
Can you tell me a little bit about how Silent Love came about, what was it about Aga’s story and experiences that connected with you as a filmmaker?
I knew Aga and Milosz for many years, because my mother comes from a nearby village. But as it occurred I didn’t know them well enough. When I started shooting the film I didn’t know anything about Aga’s longterm relationship with Maya. It was just after I started shooting that Aga told me about her love to Maya.
Aga is a protagonists that is the main engine of the story. She is always in duty. Always ready for everything. Never showing any weaknesses. When her brother needs help – she leaves her pleasant life in Germany to go back to look after him. At the same time her strong love to Maya never diminishes. She finds a way to build a new patchwork family in a very conservative small village.
"Show your films to people – even if you constantly feel they might not be good enough. Try to find people that have similar sensitivity to yours and cooperate with them."
Due to the silent topic and focus of Aga’s story did you have any apprehensions about making such a powerful documentary in Poland?
When we started shooting Milosz was 14. We did have fears the film could change the decision of the court to grant the guardianship of Milosz to Aga. So on a very early stage we decided with Aga that the premiere of the film will be held after Milosz finishes 18 years old. That decision also gave time to Aga and Maya to get prepared for their official coming and to have enough time to do their first coming outs to their families. The first screening of Silent Love was a screening organised especially for our protagonists and their families. Again we were a bit afraid of their reactions, but they all reacted really supportive. The film strengthened bonds between the members of Aga’s family – which gave us huge relief.
What was the most challenging aspect of making Silent Love for you?
Aga and Maya were hiding their relationship from the world and the film we were making was supposed to show it. This very basic conflict was often causing tension between us. Sometimes it was constructive tension that we were able to deal with in a creative way, but sometimes it was blocking my protagonists and stopping us from making the next step forward. But that was all good, it was the part of the process. It couldn’t be different. We would spend loads of time together talking. A bit like a small psychotherapy group that would finally lead to emancipation.
Looking back is there anything you would have changed or shot differently?
No. I am happy with the film the way it is. Although it was a hell to edit it! It took around 1,5 year of editing. Making a film is a process. You always make some mistakes throughout the process. There was no way I could have avoided them. What I need to do now is to accept them and learn from them. That’s all.
What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Silent Love?
The biggest thing was that spending so much time with Aga, Maya and Milosz brought me back the enthusiasm of making films and even wider the enthusiasm to life. We gained a lot from each other. Both me from them and they from me. It was a win-win situation.
Another thing I gained from making Silent Love was my self confidence – as I was the only person on set, both the director, cinematographer, sound recordist, I realised that I can make a cinematic documentary that has a narration of a feature film with an impact on our reality. And that gave me a lot of strength.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Always for watching films. When I was a kid I never dreamed of making my own films, though. It was just after finishing high school that I started to think what to do with myself and I thought of applying to the Polish National Film School.
How much did your background as a cinematographer help prepare you for directing Silent Love?
A lot. If not my previous experience in working at documentaries as a cinematographer I wouldn’t be able to make the film. I learned a lot from every director I worked with.
What was the first LGBTQ+ film you saw that really left an impact?
It was probably Derek Jarman’s films. With strong emphasise on male body. Those films, their form and narration left a strong impact on me.
Now that you have your debut doc feature under your belt what advice or tips could you offer someone about to make their first film?
Look around yourself, be interested in the people that surround you. Talk to them. There is important stories all around us that we might not even be aware of. Start shooting - even if you feel you are not ready; you will never be. Continue shooting – even though you have doubts. Edit the materials and construct the story – search for the right direction. Try to finish the stories you have started to work on – give yourself a feeling of closure. Show your films to people – even if you constantly feel they might not be good enough. Try to find people that have similar sensitivity to yours and cooperate with them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.
And finally, what message do you hope you audiences will take away from Silent Love?
I really wanted Silent Love to have a feel-good vibe. I didn’t want it to be a classic drama. Although of course it is full of tension that is unavoidable, but at the same time there is so much love in the family. I wanted to give the audience some of that love. I wanted to construct the story so that the viewer would have a feeling of becoming a part of a beautiful family.