Poland’s right-wing government has stepped up its attacks The Green Plater, the new film from acclaimed, Oscar-nominated Polish director Agnieszka Holland, which requires theaters in Poland to show a government-approved warning video before the film.
This step, unprecedented in democratic Poland, is moving forward The Green Border‘s national release on Friday, where it will be widely broadcast on 250 screens nationwide via distributor Kino Swiat.
The Green Border premiered to critical acclaim at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, where it won a special jury prize. Critics praised the film with The Hollywood Reporter review calls it a “devastating dramatic triumph” and names it The Green Border one of the top 15 films of the fall festival season.
The film is a dramatization of the fate of refugees stranded on the natural border between Poland and Belarus. The migrants, most of them from North Africa and the Middle East, were lured to the border by propaganda from the Belarusian regime, which had promised them easy passage to the European Union. Instead, they became pawns in a geopolitical game when the Polish government closed the border, leaving them stranded and starving in the swampy, treacherous forests between the two countries. The black-and-white drama interweaves the perspectives of the stranded refugees, Polish border guards and activists who provide assistance to the migrants in the forest.
Even before the premiere in Venice, The Green Border sparked angry reactions from the Polish government, with Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro comparing the film to ‘Nazi propaganda’ for its supposedly negative portrayal of Polish police and border guards. In a TV appearance, Polish President Andrzej Duda also made the Nazi comparison, calling for a boycott of the film and saying: “There are only pigs in the cinema,” a World War II slogan used by Poland resistance was used during the German occupation, when only Nazi propaganda films were shown in Polish theaters.
“It’s actually quite funny, the Minister of Injustice accused me of being a Nazi and then compared my film to Stalinist propaganda at a recent press conference, so apparently I’m both Hitler and Stalin,” Holland said. Unpleasant The Hollywood Reporter. The director calls the accusations absurd and refers to some of her best-known films, including the Oscar nominee Europe, Europe (1990) and In the dark (2011), both stories about Jewish suffering during the Holocaust, and that of 2019 Mr. Jones, about the Stalin-induced famine in Ukraine in the 1930s, locally known as the Holodomor. She is pursuing legal action against Ziobro for defamation.
But the Polish government, which will be re-elected on October 15, is redoubling its efforts Green border to attack. On Thursday, Interior Minister Poboży appeared together with a spokeswoman for the national border guards and called the Dutch film “a disgusting lampoon” and the depiction of the events at the green border “extremely unfair, unauthorized and harmful to border guards, soldiers (and) all those who defend the Polish border at the risk of their health and lives.”
The Minister of the Interior has created a warning spot that will appear before all screenings of the film The Green Border in Poland. Poboży said the video will counter what he called the “falsehoods and distortions” of the Dutch film.
Holland called the Polish government’s response “typically Orwellian: they distort the meaning of words. They attack while saying they are being attacked. They are the perpetrators who claim to be victims. Unfortunately, it is not surprising at all.”
In addition to what she calls “a wave of hatred” against her film, Holland says there has been “a wave of solidarity” from many in Poland and the international film community, who have spoken out in support of her and against the attacks of the government. Groups including the European Film Academy, the Europe Screen Directors and Poland’s Women in Film Association have written public letters of support for the 74-year-old filmmaker.
All eyes will now be on a press conference in Warsaw on Monday, when Poland will officially unveil the film that puts it forward as the top international feature candidate for the 2024 Oscars. In a typical year, The Green Border – an internationally acclaimed film from a legendary, twice Oscar-nominated Polish director – would be considered a front-runner. The Polish Oscar Committee is officially independent of the government. The Green Border was produced as an international co-production without government subsidy from Poland. The film has sold widely but does not yet have a distribution deal for North America or other English-speaking territories.