DGA Condemns Threats Against Agnieszka Holland After Poland Criticizes New Film over Refugee Crisis Depiction

The Directors’ Guild of America is standing by “The Green Border” filmmaker Agnieszka Holland amid backlash to the depiction of Poland’s treatment of Syrian refugees.

IndieWire received a statement from the DGA in reference to the “highly acclaimed filmmaker and DGA member” Holland, who has been criticized by the Polish Minister of Justice and received hundreds of death threats by extremists upon the release of “The Green Border” over its depiction of the negative treatment of immigrants in Poland.

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“The Directors Guild of America champions creative expression through the art of filmmaking and decries the recent attacks by the Polish Justice Minister and extremists on our member director Agnieszka Holland for her depictions of the brutality faced by refugees to Poland in her film ‘The Green Border,'” the statement reads. “We firmly believe directors like Agnieszka have a vital role to play in fostering discussion and reflecting societal problems through their work. We echo the statements by the Federation of European Screen Directors (FERA) and the European Film Academy in support of Agnieska and her Venice Film Festival award-winning film and will continue to support the free speech rights of all directors.”

The European Film Academy has also issued statements supporting Holland.

Holland told Variety that the threats from Polish government officials are “abominable and dangerous.”

“I find the orchestrated hatred organized by the highest Polish officials abominable and dangerous,” Holland said. “It proves only how deeply true and important is our film, and that we’re showing the things and giving faces to people they wanted to hide by the lies and propaganda.”

Holland has since threatened legal action against Poland’s Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro on September 7 after he compared the film to Nazi propaganda. Per Variety, Holland is asking for a public apology and payment to The Association of Children of the Holocaust in Poland as Ziobro has “violated her personal rights.”

“People who are afraid, as the Minister of Justice knows very well, are much easier to govern,” Holland said.

“The Green Border” premiered at the 2023 Venice Film Festival and later sold to international distributors Films Boutique to Japan (Transformer Inc.), Germany (Piffl Medien), Israel (Lev Cinema), Switzerland (Trigon), MENA (Moving Turtle), Greece (Danaos Films) and Ukraine (Arthouse Traffic).

IndieWire freelance critic Adam Solomons wrote in the review that “The Green Border” has a “moral urgency beyond its representation of refugees’ hardship, who are described by members of Poland’s Straż Graniczna as ‘tourists.’ If only it were so easy.”

The review continued, “Holland’s film is a desperate, transparent call for her country to get a grip. That seems optimistic, but she is certainly pissing off the right people: Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, whose notoriety as a hardliner in a hardline government earns him a name drop in Holland’s film, has already compared ‘Green Border’ to ‘Third Reich propaganda.’ Despite the noise around it, which will probably help ‘Green Border’ among those willing to hear it out, it does pay the price of not holding together brilliantly as a film.”

Holland previously directed Oscar-nominated Holocaust film “In Darkness” and told IndieWire in 2012 that the depiction of tough subject matter is necessary onscreen.

“When you are tackling subjects like this, which are timeless in some way, it’s not OK to just say, ‘We’ve seen that Holocaust story and now here’s another story,'” Holland said. “It’s a story which never goes away because it’s such an important part of human history. With the guilt of humanity, it will be coming back over and over, I’m sure about it.”

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