Poland doesn’t have the best history at dealing with homosexuality. Well, it is a deeply Catholic country. So, filmmaker Malgorzata Szumoska decided to take on both sexuality and religion in her movie In The Name Of, which became a surprise box office hit back home. QX’s Jack Leger met up with her in London…
I can’t recall seeing a Polish film address gay issues, and now we have two in one year: In The Name Of and Floating Skyscrapers…
Few filmmakers are willing to deal with these issues. Tomasz Wasilewski, who made Floating Skyscrapers, and I are friends, so I found it interesting that he was brave enough to make that film. I used to be a Catholic, and it stayed in my mind when I quit the church. I’d met so many priests that I had to say something. I knew that this would be the first film in my country about a homosexual priest, so I wanted to make a movie that never judged him. People in Poland are still homophobic and judgmental, especially outside the big cities.
Is this why you set the story in a small village?
Yes. If I put it in a big city it would be a completely different thing. Poland is not a multi-cultural country; it’s a closed society, so it’s changing far too slowly. In the big city we are more open, and there is no divide between gay and straight people. But people in the provinces are afraid to even talk about these issues. And the church treats homosexuality as a sickness, so the priest is caught in the middle. It’s like a classic tragedy in that sense.
Are things changing?
Yes, but far too slowly. People clearly have a desire for this kind of movie, and some think my film isn’t radical enough! But it’s important to have more of these subjects addressed in movies. Although after making films on the history of prostitution and a homosexual priest, I think my next movie will be a little less intense.
• In The Name Of is available on Peccadillo DVD/VOD.