It’s nighttime in Warsaw, Poland. Two very different homes. In one, a father is slovenly stretched out on a sofa, watching sports, expecting his son to be everything he is. In another apartment, all clean modern, an affluent mother sits to have dinner with her daughter, who isn’t like her at all. Simultaneously, both the boy and the girl embark on a night journey of transformation, where they shed their inherited gender layers. The city streets become a catwalk of liberation. When they meet, by chance— face-to-face, body-to-body—they wordlessly mirror each other with comfort and assurance.
NIGHTWALK, directed by Małgorzata Szumowska, is the 19th commission from Miu Miu Women’s Tales. The acclaimed short-film series invites today’s most profound and original female directors to investigate vanity and femininity in the 21st century.
Małgorzata Szumowska is a Polish film director, screenwriter and producer. Her 2011 feature, Elles, starred Juliette Binoche in the lead role. Szumowska’s 2013 film, In the Name Of, received the Teddy Award for the Best Feature at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, while her 2018 title, Mug, was awarded the Jury Grand Prize at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival. Her most recent feature, The Other Lamb, premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, where it received glowing reviews. Szumowska’s work, including her next project, Wonder, are often unsettling, acute studies of what defines and divides women and men in cultures all across the world.
Actress Raffey Cassidy, who plays the daughter character in NIGHTWALK, also led in The Other Lamb. Cassidy’s acting career began at the age of seven, and she came to prominence in Snow White and the Huntsmen. She has since gone on to star in Tomorrowland, Allied, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Vox Lux. Miu Miu’s FW18 campaign, The Conversation, featured Cassidy’s modeling debut.
“The inspiration for NIGHTWALK,” reveals Szumowska, “is my friend Filip Rutkowski. He’s genderqueer, and he expresses himself by wearing women’s clothes. In Poland—a conservative, Catholic country—Filip is extremely brave.” She says that, when it comes to picturing fashion, Filip’s love of Miu Miu became the perfect starting point for her story. As a female director, Szumowska has had “to fight all my life to do what I do,” and believes that Miu Miu Women’s Tales show how “you can use fashion to do something important, that supports women, and promotes tolerance.”
NIGHTWALK manages to be both a silent film, and, a symphonic portrait of young struggle against family and social expectations. It bristles with the electricity and excitement that accompanies self-discovery. Two strangers, once trapped, now freeing themselves from the fixed roles of male and female.
NIGHTWALK premieres in New York on February 11, 2020.