by Aga Woszczyńska
Poland, Italy, Czech Republic | 113 min | 2021 | Polish, English, Italian, French
A perfect couple rents a holiday home on a sunny Italian island. The reality does not live up to their expectations when they find out that the pool in the house is broken. Ignorant of the fact that the island faces water shortage, they ask for someone to fix it. The constant presence of a stranger invades the couple’s idea of safety and starts a chain of events, which makes them act instinctively and irrationally, heading to the darkest place in their relationship.
Director: Aga Woszczyńska
Screenplay: Aga Woszczyńska, Piotr Jaksa Litwin
Cinematography: Bartosz Świniarski
Editing: Jarosław Kamiński
Cast: Dobromir Dymecki, Agnieszka Żulewska, Jean Marc Barr, Alma Jodorowsky, Marcello Romolo
Production Company: Lava Films (SWEAT)
Co-production Companies: Kino Produzioni, i/o post
With support of: Polish Film Institute, EC1 Łódź – the City of Culture, Eurimages, MIC – Ministero della cultura Direzione generale Cinema ed audiovisivo and Czech Film Fund
Festivals & Awards
- Toronto International Film Festival Platform – World premiere
- Thessaloniki International Film Festival – FIPRESCI Award
- Crossing Europe Film Festival – Competition Fiction Award
- Zurich IFF – Feature Film Competition
- FPFF w Gdyni – Main Competition
- Miami IFF – Panorama
- Chicago IFF – New Directors Competition
- Bergen Film Festival – Cinema Extraordinaire Competition
- Polish Film Festival in America Chicago 2021 – Debuts Competition: Discovering Eye Aaward for Young Filmmakers
- International Film Festival of India Goa – World Panorama
- São Paulo International Film Festival – New Directors Competition
- Melbourne IFF – International-European Section
A frostily assured feature debut.
Silent Land features a scenario which has a kinship with the quandary at the heart of Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure.
It should find an appreciative audience in further festivals, particularly with fans of the kind of elegant, unforgiving froidure generally found in the films of Michael Haneke.
Woszczynska expertly plays with time and context.
In Aga Woszczyńska’s impressive first feature, a Polish couple’s relationship exposes serious fault-lines during a stressful Italian vacation where everything goes wrong.
Silent Land excels in ramping up the tension in this subversive and acutely piquant two hander.
A cleverly written script and choice visuals keep us engaged with an all too familiar holiday scenario, primped with surprising twists and turns that are enough to derail the most loved-up up romantic break.
There are certainly touches of Michael Haneke’s observational storytelling in the precise framing as the voyeuristic camerawork tracks the couple
Tense and highly intelligent filmmaking.
If “Silent Land” is deliberately ambiguous, Woszczynska’s camera is unflinching (…) there is something cathartic about these scenes which is why this film is so gripping.
“Vacations gone wrong” is one of my favorite sub-genres in cinema. Midsommar, The Ritual, The Hangover, Jurassic Park (…) I love them all. And Silent Land, which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, has made its way into this list.
Lusciously tense and deeply observant feature debut.
It is a veritable cinematic gem.
From the opening scenes, Woszczyńska skilfully sets up a general atmosphere of dread, a tense and strained aura between the couple and in their interactions with others, as if conjuring up the ambience of Antonioni’s films, which she elegantly conveys through her own attentive gaze on human puniness
Subtly told, meticulously crafted and confidently directed, Silent Land is a masterclass in slow cinema.