A Cemetery Of Doves is a short film with no dialogue, following a young gay man as he experiences love and rejection for the first time.
The film begins with the quote, “Silence is the language of God. All else is poor translation.” It then tries to encompass all the emotion of love and loss without dialogue to mediate.
It begins with a young teenage boy and an adult man driving out to a remote location. The boy is in the back, looking nervous, shame-faced, and hesitant. The man’s expression is unreadable in the rear-view mirror. When they stop, the man gets out, unfolds a note from his pocket and reads. In obliquely poetic language, it declares love for a man. As the boy studies the man’s back for any reaction, the man sets his jaw and proceeds to tear the note up, and bury it in the ground.
They drive back in silence, and the rest of the film is the boy thinking back over their relationship and contemplating what comes next. The silence of the film echoes the lack of expression for queer love in their society. You get the feeling the boy doesn’t even have a label like gay through which to understand his feelings. That this is something so unspoken, all he knows is he felt this attachment with such intensity, and knew it must be kept secret for fear of dangerous consequences. His grief, his fear, all are borne in secret, in silence, in isolation.
What I found enigmatic was the man. He must have cared for the boy, because he clearly understood the import of his love letter, and he does not round on him and castigate him with disgust. He clearly knows how dangerous this revelation is, and buries the letter. So despite the rejection, it can be viewed as an act of affection and protection.
Perhaps he was straight. Perhaps he was also gay and the feelings were simply not reciprocated. And perhaps worst of all, the love letter made him realise just how serious the boy’s feelings for him were, and he realised what danger that put him in. Because the violence he would meet with were he discovered to be gay would no doubt increase in ferocity if he was considered to be ‘corrupting’ youths. We are unable to know for sure, because all remains unspoken, because to even acknowledge it carries danger.
A beautiful, mournful, and meditative film.