Short of the Week

Documentary Katarzyna Gondek

Couple in a room smoking cigarettes

A couple in a room smoking cigarettes.

Couple in a room smoking cigarettes

Love has been depicted on screen thousands of times, in a myriad of ways, but cinematic love never quite captures the gritty reality of devoting yourself to one person for the entirety of your life. Whilst romance on the big screen means fireworks and dramatic gestures, in real-life, true love is more about finding that one person who completes you, that one person who shares your passion and puts up with your sh*t. It’s the kind of love depicted in Katarzyna Gondek’s experimental documentary Couple in a room smoking cigarettes.

“What better time to shoot a film about love preserved in smoke?”

As the 11-minute short’s title suggests, Gondek’s film invites us into the home of Jadzia and Wiesio as we spend time with the couple living their lives and doing a lot of smoking. As they eat eggs, smoke, cook sausages, smoke some more and share each other’s company, Gondek’s (broken) lens captures their relationship with startling authenticity. It’s a warts and all depiction of a relationship and many will find that too much and crave the comfort of a slick Hollywood romance instead, but if you watch the film with an open and unbiased mind what you find might surprise you.

Explaining that she shot the film after she had “just ended a very long relationship and quit cigarettes”, Gondek felt compelled to shoot “a film about love preserved in smoke”. Armed with “tons of nicotine” and that aforementioned broken lens, she spent time with her friends in their home, allowing time, laughter and a little wine help to capture the intimate feel of her doc. With its raw and gritty aesthetic, the film’s poetic approach makes for a distinct viewing experience and although its creator describes her film as a “tiny ode to my two friends”, its impact is much larger than this statement suggests.


“We made this film using tons of nicotine and a broken lens. We also used time, wine and laughter.” – Gondek on her production methods.

With a simple concept at its core, the success of Gondek’s film lies mainly its production and this is undoubtedly where the short truly excels. Jaroslaw Piekarski‘s close-quarters cinematography is the first step in creating the short’s unique style, but it’s the combination of Henrique Cartaxo‘s edit and Ivan Zelic‘s sound design that truly helps Couple in a room smoking cigarettes shine. With its hazy visuals, the amplified audio brings some sense of clarity to proceedings, while the sharp edit helps capture the passing of time and the repetitive routine of this couple.

It’s hypnotic, enveloping filmmaking, its individuality meaning it was a film we felt was just too unique to ignore. It’s certainly one of the more abstract pieces we’ve featured on S/W and that experimental approach will mean it’s a short some will find it difficult to connect to, but these are the films that deserve championing – the brave films that try something new – and we’re excited to do just that on S/W.