On May 5th, as part of the 8th edition of the LGBT Film Festival (the biggest celebration of LGBT cinema in Poland http://lgbtfestival.pl/wroclaw/), the Nowe Horyzonty movie theater showed “Article Eighteenth” directed by Bartosz Staszewski. “Article Eighteenth” is a feature-length documentary whose title refers to Article 18 of the Polish constitution: it defines marriage in heteronormative terms, as a union of a man and woman placed under the protection and care of the Republic of Poland. In the public discourse, the aforementioned article is interpreted as the basic obstacle for the legal premises that could establish partnerships and same-sex marriages in Poland.
The creators of the movie (some of them active in the Warsaw Association Miłość Nie Wyklucza – Love Does Not Exclude http://mnw.org.pl/) have made the first Polish documentary showing the moral, cultural, and legal reasons why same-sex marriages have still not been legalized. The movie presents a polyphonic debate on the subject through showing interviews conducted by the makers of the film with gay and lesbian couples, people of science and culture, doctors, sexologists, lawyers, who present their arguments for introducing necessary legislative changes which would contribute to the improvement of LGBT experiences in various areas of social life.
The film features well-known people such as professor Ewa Łętowska, professor Maria Szyszkowska, professor Jacek Kochanowski, professor Joanna Mizielińska, the Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar, movie director Agnieszka Holland, journalist and film critic Tomasz Raczek, writer Jacek Dehnel, priest Krzysztof Charamsa (a few months ago he came out as gay; his statement in the film is an important voice in the debate on the homophobia in the Catholic Church); and sexologist professor Zbigniew Lew-Starowicz. The latter in the film says that “sexual orientation is located in the heart and in the brain, not in the genitalia,” apologizing to his former patients for having tried to cure them of homosexuality with electroshock therapy.
“Article Eighteenth” presents also homophobic statements selected from public speeches of Polish politicians, celebrities, and ordinary citizens, in order to show the difficult context for LGBT community and people acting on a behalf of a broadly defined equality policy for the rights of gender and sexual minorities. The film producers show that even though Poland is a democratic country, non-heteronormative persons are still discriminated against, and the authorities do not treat the legal and social manifestations of their exclusion seriously enough. Motifs serving as backdrops for the movie are the notions of patriotism and Polishness, which symbolically exclude the LGBT community from Polish society by denying them many rights, such as the right to enter into a partnership or the right to marry. The film features gay and lesbian couples who opted for leaving Poland in search for acceptance and the possibility to legalize their relationships abroad, which they perceive as an unfair and forced emigration.
Article Eighteenth premiered on April 21st, 2017 in Warsaw’s Kinoteka (Palace of Culture and Science), the film was then presented in mayor Polish cities as part of the 8th LGBT Film Festival. More screenings and discussions are planned in June, in Poznań and Katowice among other cities. The creators of the film are hoping to initiate a serious political and social debate in Poland, which would result in legal proposals for making possible partnerships and marriages for same-sex couples.
The film’s website: www.art18.pl
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/artykulosiemnasty/