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Film Review: “The Silence” (2016) ★★★★

How much can we ask from a little girl who she is about to tell her mother – the person who gave her birth – that she might not have much left to live if she is not hospitalized immediately? To make the situation even more dramatic, imagine that it is happening in a foreign country. How can someone at such a young age deal with this life-changing problem? “The Silence” is a short film by Ali Asgari and Farnoosh Samadi, who have co-written and co-directed the film. It offers a subtle look into the world of you Fatma and her way of handling the terrible news she receives.

The story is set in Italy. Fatma and her mother Hadice are Kurdish refugees, who have arrived onto the new land in hopes for a better life. As it soon turns out, one of them is destined to give up that better life they had dreamed about if medical aid is not delivered on time. During their visit to the doctor, Fatma has to take on the role of an interpreter and explain to her mother what the doctor has to say. The girl promises to translate everything the doctor says, yet, she decides to hide the truth from her mom until they get back home.

Hadice is a smart woman and realizes that something is seriously wrong. Even though she pretends that she did not understand anything, when they leave the doctor’s office, she finds a moment for Fatma to leave her alone.  The little girl does not suspect that a practical woman like Hadice will find her way around in order to help her daughter and release her from the burden she has to carry.

“The Silence” is a nicely told story, dealt with a delicate approach. It’s about how to ease the acceptance of tragic news, process it and deliver. It also tackles gently the character study from the mother’s and daughter’s point of view, their desire to avoid the trauma, and, finally, the importance to learn and comprehend through the silence that Fatma emerges herself into. That alone is enough to make any caring viewer’s heart jump. Because the story works. The performance of the actors delivers what’s needed. And the directors have been able to predict the best outcome possible before the camera rolled into action.

Last but not least, the film was among the nominees for Palme d’Or Best Short Film award at Cannes Film Festival 2016 and has won 26 awards and another 13 nominations.

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