Green Border


‘Green Border’

The European Film Academy (EFA) has issued a strong statement of support for its president Agnieszka Holland after she was strongly criticised by Poland’s Minister of Justice for her depiction of the treatment of refugees along the Poland-Belarus border in her Venice competition film The Green Border.

Comparing the film to Nazi propaganda, Poland’s hard-right justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter last week: “In the Third Reich, the Germans produced propaganda films showing Poles as bandits and murderers. Today they have Agnieszka Holland for that.”

In its statement today, EFA said it “firmly stands” behind Holland, who has been its president since 2021. “We are stunned by the current personal hostility and threats from the Polish Minister of Justice, Mr Zbigniew Ziobro, against the President of the European Film Academy, the highly acclaimed filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, at a high political level because of her film Zielonca Granica (The Green Border).”

The EFA statement went on to say: “Agnieszka Holland was compared to the propagandists of the Third Reich by the Minister, even though the filmmaker is the daughter of a liaison officer of the Warsaw Uprising and the granddaughter of victims of the Holocaust”

The Green Border won the special jury prize at Venice, and was picked by Screen’s reviews team as one of the standout titles of the festival. It tells the story of refugees, charity workers, activists and border guards, whose lives intersect in the cold, swampy forests between Poland and Belarus.

Refugees started flocking to the border in 2021, after Belarus, a close Russian ally, opened travel agencies in the Middle East offering a new unofficial route into Europe - a move the European Union said was designed to create a crisis. Poland refused to let them cross, leaving hundreds stranded in a freezing no-man’s land, and temporarily imposed an exclusion zone, forbidding reporters and human rights groups from approaching the area to see what was going on.

EFA said: “One of the expectations of European cinema, of which she is an outstanding representative, is to look criticality and closely at human stories, instead of looking away. Agnieszka Holland’s films are characterised by a deep humanity and respect, and she therefore deserves to be treated respectfully and humanely. It is a characteristic of significant art when cinema provokes different opinions and attitudes, when it creates the need to discuss the topics presented on a social and private level, in politics, in the media, and when speaking with family and friends. This discussion the European Film Academy will always help to facilitate, as our aim is to encourage people to speak and share opinions about the work of filmmakers from Europe. We acknowledge that art can at times be painful and uncomfortable, or be liberating and eye-opening in equal measure. Cinema has the power to set things in motion and to promote dialogue between people.”

EFA demanded an immediate end to the hostility and threats against Holland.