This Stunning Documentary Depicts an Act of True Love and Trust
Nov 13, 2019
Aleksandra Maciejczyk via Polish Docs
Through a thick snowy-mountain haze, a skier emerges. He carves down the slope with the deft comfort of a seasoned athlete. In the low visibility of the whiteout, everything is a specter: the trees, the people, the slow-moving chairlift overhead. But it doesn’t matter—the skier is blind.
When Krzysztof Sydor lost his vision to a rare genetic disorder 20 years ago, he gave up a lifetime passion for skiing. Ten years later, he met Wiola. They built their relationship through movement, falling in love while learning to dance. It seemed only natural to them that Wiola, also a skilled skier, would become Krzysztof’s guide as he learned to ski blind. How else could they enjoy their favorite winter sport together?
Aleksandra Maciejczyk’s short documentary, Connected, spends a day with the couple at a ski resort in their native Poland. With Bluetooth kits mounted on their helmets, they ride the chairlift to the top of the mountain, teasing each other and bickering all the while. The higher they go, the more we learn about their life. Then, in a feat of emotional and physical synchronicity, they ski down from the summit.
The film, premiering on The Atlantic today, is an intimate portrait of love, trust, and acceptance, told with masterful vérité filmmaking. Maciejczyk’s poetic imagery often assumes the couple’s point of view, affording us Krzysztof’s and Wiola’s perspectives intermittently as they navigate the mountain.
“They know they look strange on the slope,” Maciejczyk told me. “Many people tell them how amazing it is, but for them it’s normal.”
Maciejczyk became interested in blind skiers when her own sister was diagnosed with glaucoma. Skiing is an integral—even foundational—aspect of Maciejczyk’s relationship with her sister, and she was prepared to become her sister’s guide in the face of progressive blindness. Two years of research on the topic led the filmmaker to Krzysztof and Wiola, who agreed to allow Maciejczyk to film them.
At one point in the film, in a rather nonchalant manner, Wiola lets on that her own vision is deteriorating. Krzysztof doesn’t seem too concerned. “If I could start over, we both can,” he says. For the exceedingly practical couple, it’s just another challenge to face head-on.
The conversation abruptly ends as they arrive at the lift’s end. “Legs up,” Wiola says.
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Author: Emily Buder
About This Series
A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.