EVEN the most extrovert of us appreciates a bit of quiet time now and then. But listening to silence enthusiast Poppy Szkiler makes you realise how important tranquility is to mental and physical wellbeing and how regularly it is neglected in the modern world.

Szkiler is executive producer of In Pursuit Of Silence, a documentary by Patrick Shen that exposes the dangers of noise pollution across the world through a range of global experts.

“My personal experience of calmness is that once you’ve connected with it you want to go back and have some more,” says the one-time Brighton resident who now lives in London. “It’s like falling in love with someone – you find the treasure and you want to keep running back to that.”

With her mother Gloria, Szkiler is co-founder of Quiet Mark, a Brighton product design company that seeks to reduce noise in everyday household items from dishwashers to audio headsets. Her grandfather started the Noise Abatement Society, the Hove-based charity that educates about responsible use of sound. This is a family that takes silence seriously, and rightly so.

“It’s something we know deep down is good for us, but it takes discipline to actually practise it,” says Szkiler. “I personally find – and I am far from a perfect human being – that when I have my quiet time I’m a better person for it.”

Szkiler stops short of talking of silence in the same breath as mindfulness or meditation as such, instead using the allegory of charging a mobile phone to explain its restorative effect. She says the need for silence is “practical more than spiritual”, and is keen to stress that we literally need quiet time.

“We’ve got to a place where we are used to not having silence, so when it does happen it feels foreign. It’s part of a support system for how we’re designed, which has for a long time been forgotten.”

Silence is the “hidden, mostly unexplored half of who we are as human beings”, says one talking head in the trailer for the film. Another expert in the film remarks that “silence is a sound with many qualities”. Am I reading this too literally, or does the film posit that there is a plethora of nuanced noises that exist within silence?

“Well, the conclusion that the film comes to is that there is no such thing as silence. John Cage, the composer who wrote 4.33 (an entirely silent track), said sounds are just bubbles that pop on silence.

“What we’ve been doing at screenings is having four minutes and 33 seconds of silence before the film. When a group of people sit together silently it reminds us we’re all interconnected and all the same.”

In Pursuit Of Silence travels up and down the decibel scale as the film roams from rural tranquility to urban chaos. One of the most serene scenes is a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto on the island of Honshu, Japan. On the other hand, the team visited Mumbai, the loudest city on the planet, during festival season.

It has been lauded critically, with The Huffington Post drawing parallels to a Terrence Malick movie and remarking that the film “shimmers with [a] kind of almost otherworldly wonder ... it testifies to the sheer loveliness of anything – everything – when drenched in silence”.

So, do we miss out on the sublimity of the world in this fast-moving modern age? More to the point, are we scared of embracing silence? “I think the pace of technology, the way we’re accessible at all hours and living with bleeps and beeps, definitely obscures the wonder of silence,” says Szkiler. “We’re dealing with more stress than ever before.”

The executive producer refutes the idea that Brighton in particular has a noise pollution problem, opting instead to suggest that this issue is common to all big cities. She points out that despite Brighton’s reputation as a party city, many of its residents are receptive to – and indeed actively explore – new means of improving physical and mental health.

“I think being compassionate and caring for your neighbour, letting them enjoy silence, is something that is quite common in Brighton.” And, while Szkiler is evidently proud of her silence-based agenda, she is quick to say that her quest is “not about being quiet and boring”.

“You feel a sense of completion when you get in touch with silence. This film is bringing people back home, back to that feeling.”

Poppy’s tips for Sussex serenity

“THERE’S a beautiful hill the other side of Devil’s Dyke called Saddlescombe Farm which I love to walk on. Going up to the Downs is something I love to do whenever I’m in Brighton.

“There’s a lovely little park called St Ann’s Well Gardens, near Hove seafront, which I really enjoy spending time in. I think having an hour’s silence in a place like that should be as important to people’s daily routine as a run, for example.”

In Pursuit of Silence, Dukes at Komedia, Gardner Street, Brighton, November 1 and November 2 November 1: 6.30pm, £11 November 2: 11am, £10 08719 025728