Poland, Germany


A masseur from the East enters the lives of the rich residents of a bland, walled-off community. Despite their wealth, the residents emit an inner sadness, a longing. The mysterious newcomer’s hands heal, his eyes seem to penetrate their souls. To them, his Russian accent sounds like a song from the past, a memory of their seemingly safer childhood. Zhenia, for this is his name, changes their lives.

Director's Statement

Our film is about a need for spirituality - you can feel the new era coming. We, as a society, are transitioning from aggressive capitalism and the gradual destruction of our planet towards a greater awareness of what it has all led to. We also have an urgent need to go deep inside ourselves. The seemingly banal ability to look inside oneself, to define one’s real needs and longings, to name one’s feelings, is actually a very difficult task.

From our observations, the whole sphere of interpersonal relationships, now largely based on social networking platforms, is built on our need to belong to a group, to be accepted in society. As a result, people focus only on how they are perceived by others. In our film, we wanted to show people when they are alone. We live in times when people are constantly trying to measure, label, weigh, and plan everything, attempting to create a formula for the perfect life. We also wanted to juxtapose that with the upper class portrayed in our movie. They have a serious inferiority complex about their Easternness, they would like to break away from the East. This subject has not yet been taken up by Polish cinema. The gated housing estate is a symbol of modern Poland, but it may even be a symbol of Europe. After all, we are all watching her close her borders to refugees.

We remember looking forward to winter when we were young, when we used to go sledding and built snowman. As a result of climate change, our children no longer know the Poland where it always used to snow in the winter. Our movie touches on many current and important subjects. Global warming sparked many problems we face now as a society; also the pandemic - the one we’re going through now, as well as the ones we will see in the future. Although I believe there is hope in our film, I do know for sure that it’s never going to snow again.

Director's Biography

Małgorzata Szumowska:
Malgorzata Szumowska was born in Kraków in 1973. She has directed, written and produced feature and documentary films and has received numerous awards at international and Polish film festivals. After two well-received shorts, her first feature, HAPPY MAN (2000) was nominated 'Discovery of the Year' at the European Film Awards and won the Special Prize in Thessaloniki. Currently she is in postproduction with her latest, second international feature INFINITE STORM, starring Naomi Watts. The film will be her second co-directing credit together with Michał Englert.

Michał Englert:
Warsaw-born cinematographer, screenwriter and producer Michał Englert is a graduate of the Cinematography Department at the National Film and Theatre School in Łódź, which is where he met Małgorzata Szumowska. Since then, they have made over a dozen documentary and feature films together, becoming a renowned artistic duo whose co-operation runs far deeper than that of most directors and cinematographers. He is keen to take part in international projects, such as Ari Folman's THE CONGRESS (2013) and Etienne Kallos' THE HARVESTERS (2018), both shown in Cannes. He was also responsible for the cinematography on Krzysztof Skonieczny's loud, HBO-produced series BLINDED BY THE LIGHTS (2018), based on Jakub Żulczyk's bestselling novel.

Małgorzta Szumowska

2017 - FACE
2015 - BODY
2000 - HAPPY MAN

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert

Written by: Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert

Produced by: Malgorzata Szumowska, Mariusz Wlodarski, Agnieszka Wasiak, Viola Fügen, Michael Weber

Cinematography: Michal Englert

Editing: Jaroslaw Kaminski PSM, Agata Cierniak

Production Design: Jagna Janicka

Costume Design: Katarzyna Lewinska

Make-Up & Hair: Waldemar Pokromski

Sound: Kacper Habisiak, Marcin Kasinski, Marcin Jachyra

Casting: Magdalena Szwarcbart

Main Cast: Alec Utgoff (Zhenia), Agata Kulesza (Ewa), Maja Ostaszewska (Maria), Weronika Rosati (Wika)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2021