London-based Modern Films has bought U.K.-Ireland rights for “Silent Land,” the feature debut of Polish filmmaker Aga Woszczyńska, which played in competition at the recently wrapped Zurich Film Festival. Variety has been given exclusive access to the film’s international trailer.
Set in Italy, the slow-burn drama follows a couple whose summer holiday goes terribly wrong when Rahim (Ibrahim Keshk), an illegal immigrant hired to fix the pool in the house they paid for, suddenly dies. Produced by Lava Films, Kino Produzioni and I/O Post, with world sales handled by New Europe Film Sales, the film had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.
Speaking to Variety ahead of the Zurich fest, Woszczyńska described the refugee crisis at the heart of her film as a “present-day plague.” “I would like for ‘Silent Land’ to make people more socially sensitive and not just close themselves off in their homes,” she said.
“My film is about the condition of thirty-something Europeans, their emotional isolation and moral confusion. It’s a tale of alienation – not just from each other but also from the world, about conformity and passivity, when the need for safety and convenience turns into a strategy for survival. I wanted to show, albeit not in a literal way, how the whole world remains blind to the tragedy of the immigrants.”
Modern Films CEO Eve Gabereau said she was “blown away by ‘Silent Land,’ with all its layers, edges, nuances, observations and unspoken emotions.
“It has thematic resonances of ‘Force Majeure’ in the way the couple’s relationship unravels while on holiday, but here it is told not only from a distinct female perspective, but also that of Aga Woszczyńska,” she continued. “We are looking forward to working with her, alongside Jan Naszewski and the New Europe Film Sales team, to distribute this first feature and be a part of her future filmography that already stands out.”
Woszczyńska’s 2014 short film “Fragments” played in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight section. “Silent Land” features the same characters, played by Agnieszka Żulewska and Dobromir Dymecki. Woszczyńska’s next film, “Black Water,” focuses on two women stuck on an island and was inspired by the COVID-19 lockdown.