Zofia Kowalewska’s film examines an elderly couple’s relationship

What makes Polish documentarian Zofia Kowalewska’s “Close Ties” so compellingly intimate isn’t in how it covers a husband and wife’s interactions, or even the length of their relationship — but rather the small space in which they live.

“Close Ties” — one of 12 finalist films in TheWrap’s 2017 ShortList Film Festival, presented with support from IMAX — centers on an elderly Polish couple as they near their 45th wedding anniversary. The husband has spent the past eight years living with another woman (while still married to his wife), which his wife, understandably, has a hard time reconciling with. A relationship that is already strained, the tiny Krakow apartment the elderly couple shares only adds to the tension.

As husband and wife navigate their tenuous relationship, they must also navigate the small space in which they live. Being in constant close physical contact forces them to examine their emotional relationship. In navigating their shared space, they rediscover their love for one another. This becomes apparent at the end of the film when the couple’s family joins them for their anniversary dinner. The husband apologizes to his wife for his past actions, and they share a hug and a kiss as their children and grandchildren lovingly cheer them on.

An interesting fact about “Close Ties” is that the elderly couple are filmmaker Zofia Kowalewska’s real-life grandparents. Kowalewska herself also makes an appearance in her film: She can be seen at the anniversary dinner.

Living with another person can be frustrating. Living in a small space with another person can be even more frustrating. While these circumstances could easily tear any couple apart, the elderly couple of “Close Ties” conquered these challenges. Their 45-year-long marriage found new vitality after eight years of tension. If they can withstand that, surely they can make it through anything.

Watch the short film above. Viewers can also screen the films at any time during the festival at Shortlistfilmfestival.com and vote from Aug. 8-22. Presented with support from IMAX.