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#HotDocs22 Review: Silent Love

May 4, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2022 Hot Docs Film Festival runs from April 28th to May 8th in Toronto, more information on tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

Director Marek Kozakiewicz’s film Silent Love works as a quiet family portrait, but one where the threat of homophobia and the lack of societal acceptance around non-heterosexual relationships lingers just outside the frame. The film follows Agnieszka, a Polish woman who moves back to her small town after a decade away when her mother passes away from cancer, so that she can care for her adolescent brother Milosz. But Agnieszka has left behind a life in Germany with her girlfriend Maja, that she has to keep a secret from her very traditional Polish town.

The film follows her as she goes before the courts trying to obtain legal guardianship of her underage brother, needing to keep her orientation and relationship a closely guarded secret. When Maja comes to visit her in Poland, and they start testing the waters of being a family unit, Agnieszka is cautious about even revealing the truth of their relationship to her brother, whose ideas around homosexuality seem influenced by negative comments that he has heard from classmates.

Milosz is at that age where he is starting to be cognizant of romantic attraction, with the camera capturing how traditional gender roles are being drilled into him during school dance rehearsals, and some of the film’s most fascinating interactions are the ones between him and Maja. What emerges is an engaging vérité portrait of a family hiding in plain sight, that, at just 71 minutes long, manages to have a pretty sizeable impact.

Screenings:

Wednesday, May 4th – 6:00 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Sunday, May 8th – 10:30 AM at Varsity 7

The film is also available to stream across Canada for five days starting on May 5th at 9:00 AM.

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