First… (Po pierwsze…) Image

Adam Hartwinski’s First… (Po pierwsze…) comes to our shores at an interesting time in U.S. history. Though we like to keep Film Threat reviews somewhat evergreen, the film’s argument between life and choice comes at this auspicious time. It’s divisive and not as simple as each side claims it to be.

Marysia (Gabriela Czyzewska-Detmer) is a social media influencer in Poland, and she just announced to her followers that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, in an instant, Marysia’s joy turns to tragedy as she learns her unborn son has anencephaly, a condition where the infant’s skull does not develop in the womb. To make matters worse, Marysia’s doctor (Jacek Beler) scheduled the abortion for after Christmas.

As her family arrives for Christmas dinner, no one knows the tragic news. Marysia tells her sister, Dorota (Anna Grycewicz), and in a sudden twist during dinner, Dorota insists that Marysia not go through with the abortion. Dorota’s Anielka (Hanna Jasinska) is in desperate need of a kidney, and Marysia’s unborn child is her final hope. So without much thought, Marysia agrees to carry her child to term, congenital disabilities and all.

First… tackles several tough ethical medical issues all at once in a deadly serious convergence. You don’t hear it in the news that much anymore, but the idea of having a child to use its organs for the purposes of transplant or stem cells is still a controversial issue. Then there’s the abortion. Is it right to carry a child to term knowing there are birth defects, such as anencephaly or Down’s Syndrome?

“…she learns her unborn son has anencephaly, a condition where the infant’s skull does not develop…”

The ethical issues then extend to the medical profession, but does a physician have the right to make or impose the decision on the mother? In Poland, abortion is prohibited after a certain number of weeks, and because of the anencephaly, her doctor and hospital refuse to be involved in the birth. And then there’s the emotional issue, the love of a mother toward her unborn child unconditionally.

First… accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, which is spark a conversation whether you agree with the ultimate outcome or the motivations of its participants. No tough decision should ever be made quickly, haphazardly, and without much contemplation.

Director Adam Hartwinski is a master storyteller who weaves together an interesting story, particularly in the short film format. But it’s Gabriela Czyzewska-Detmer, who shines as Marysia. She carries the emotional weight of the piece and is convincing as hell in her portrayal of a mother struggling through the decision and finding peace in the end.

To show you where the filmmakers stand on the issue, the title, First…, refers to the first tenant of the Hippocratic Oath, namely “to do good, or to do no harm.” It’s important to understand that no matter what side of the debate you stand on, the “choice” is never nor should ever be an easy one. Short films like this remind us that there are always two sides to an issue.

For screening information, visit the First… official website.

First... (Po pierwsze...) (2022)

Directed: Adam Hartwinski

Written: Aldona Hartwinska, Adam Hartwinski

Starring: Gabriela Czyzewska-Detmer, Anna Grycewicz, Jacek Beler, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

First... (Po pierwsze...) Image

"…remind[s] us that there are always two sides to an issue."

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