Panita Chanrasmi

Writer | Director | Producer

SILENCE IS GOLDEN

OUR LIVES BEGIN TO END THE DAY WE BECOME SILENT ABOUT THE THINGS THAT MATTER
— Martin Luther King Jr

The self-destructive nature of the relationship between oppression and repression is the main theme in "Silence is Golden”, a film about a young girl who seeks acceptance in a community where sex is shrouded in shame and guilt, and pursuing an artistic career is simply not an option because of a strict and oppressive religion that will label you as an apostate if you question their “rules”.

The drama short explores the dangers of this oppression, especially through Blanche, who happens to be a teenage girl living in a patriarchal system. As we all know, adolescence is the time in life where you’re supposed to explore your own identity and form some opinions about the world; a period of discovery, and more importantly, self-discovery. However, when you don’t allow the freedom for that and make a teenager feel bad about themselves for just wanting to be who they are, it becomes self-destructive in a time that’s supposed to be about growth.

We tend to forget how vulnerable children are, especially in their teenage years, and how important and even necessary it is to show them unconditional love and support, something that Blanche’s parents fail to give to Blanche, although in her case, the sting of rejection is even more felt because it’s not just her parents but her whole community, from the church elders to her best friend who ends up turning on her because of her “mistake”. In reality, Blanche’s only “crime” is her confusion and her curiosity about sex and love: she does not know how to express it, nor does she have any idea what a healthy sexual experience is supposed to be.

This leads to education as well as it being parents’ responsibility to make children understand how to handle their sexuality in a healthy manner, as sexual desire is only natural – teenagers should not be afraid of it or think that the skies are going to open up and that they will get speared to death, which is a lot of pressure and fear to put on young people as they are growing up.

In the end, Blanche is just a teenage girl who dreams of being a ballerina but who must repress her desires although she shouldn’t have to. However, instead of finding the courage to "defy the rules" because it feels right, she is too scared of rejection to speak out about her desires. She is unable to find a healthy escape route and instead mistakes meaningless sex for acceptance, ultimately leading her down a dangerous path due to her naïveté but also her desperation.  As much as the film criticizes the oppressive environment that Blanche was raised in, it also suggests that it is in Blanche’s power to be able to love and accept herself, and stand up for what she wants for herself without needing to seek it from other people in such a self-sabotaging manner. Therefore, it is her own fault if something bad happens to her, something that is implied at the end of the film.

Starring Alex Sarrigeorgiou. Written, directed and produced by Panita Chanrasmi-Lefebvre. Cinematography by Arseniy Grobovnikov.