Social Navigation

Polish Directors Defend Green Border After Political Attack – The Hollywood Reporter


Polish directors and the European Film Association have defended Agnieszka Holland after her new film, the migration drama Green Border, came under political attack in Poland.

Poland’s justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, a leading member of Poland’s right-wing conservative government, has sharply criticized the film, which explores the humanitarian disaster affecting migrants along the Poland-Belarus border, comparing it to Nazi propaganda.

“In the Third Reich, the Germans produced propaganda films showing Poles as bandits and murderers. Today they have Agnieszka Holland for that,” Ziobro wrote Monday on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter.

Renata Czarnkowska, president of Poland’s Women in Film Association struck back. In an open letter, seen by The Hollywood Reporter, she said the “Polish government and the media subservient to them [have] decided to slander Agnieszka Holland in the name of vulgar propaganda and defamation of distinguished artists unheard of since the restoration of independence in 1989 [they] ruthlessly smeared her and her film, Green Border, which none of those venom-spitting apparatchiks could have seen.”

Green Border premiered in competition in Venice on Tuesday, getting rave reviews. The Hollywood Reporter called it a “devastating dramatic triumph.“

The film dramatizes the plight of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East who were lured to the Belarusian-Polish border by propaganda promising easy passage into the European Union. Instead, they became pawns in a geopolitical game when the Polish government cracked down, leaving them stranded and starving in the swampy, treacherous forests between the two countries. Green Border is one of several films in Venice that look at the plight of migrants trying to reach Europe.

Comparing Holland and her movie to Nazi propaganda is deeply ironic. The director is best known for her 1990 Holocaust film Europa, Europa and the Oscar-nominated In Darkness (2011), which looks at the plights of Jews hiding in Poland during WW2. Speaking to THR, Holland linked the themes of Green Border to Europa Europa, saying both films explored how Europe, which on one hand is “the cradle civilization, culture, democracy and human rights, can become the cradle of totalitarian regimes.”

“Agnieszka Holland’s films are very often about courage, and about fearlessness in the face of injustice,” noted Green Border producer Mike Downey, who is also chairman of the European Film Academy. He praised the solidarity of Holland’s Polish colleagues in the face of the political condemnation. “Agnieszka is coming under huge personal and public attack in Poland, and it is such acts of solidarity which reflect the extraordinary job she does in speaking out against injustice and oppression..We are all in agreement. Staying silent is not an option.”

Green Border is screening at the Toronto Film Festival and will be released in Poland on September 22.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.