Controversy over Venice title “Green Border” continues to heat up as director Agnieszka Holland gave an ultimatum to Poland’s Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro following his comments about her film.
According to the statement shared with Variety, Holland has hired the lawyers Sylwia Gregorczyk-Abram and Michał Wawrynkiewicz. She is demanding a public apology and payment to The Association of Children of the Holocaust in Poland, arguing Ziobro’s words have “violated her personal rights.” Ziobro has seven days to fulfill the obligation outlined in the document, otherwise the filmmaker “will take legal action.”
“People who are afraid, as the Minister of Justice knows very well, are much easier to govern,” she stated.
Right-wing political figures have been taking to social media to criticize Holland, including Krystyna Pawłowicz who called the film “mindless, fake, irresponsible and disgraceful,” as well as accusing the director of “slandering families” and being “sick with hatred for Poland.”
While such reactions came as no surprise to Polish journalists gathered in Venice, Ziobro’s statement ruffled many feathers indeed.
“It’s shocking that a Polish minister would insult a Polish director in such a disgusting way at the moment of her film’s success,” said Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, reporting for Gazeta Wyborcza.
He noted that at the moment, Poland’s government “doesn’t understand the essence of debate in a democratic country.” “It has never distinguished between art and propaganda, and it doesn’t respect artists.”
Vogue Poland’s Adriana Prodeus adds: “This film was judged by the authorities before it was even made. Holland is seen as a spokesperson of the opposition, so the ruling party portrays her as a director criticizing Poland from abroad: an enemy of the nation.”
In “Green Border,” Holland actually namechecks multiple local politicians, including Ziobro himself.
“The fact that she does that is dictated by fidelity to reality and not personal assault. An award for ‘Green Border’ [in Venice] would be significant for a country in which an ideological war is taking place, overshadowing the one taking place on the border,” adds Prodeus.
As noted by the European Film Academy’s Mike Downey — and one of the film’s producers — many colleagues have been supporting Holland’s ongoing ordeal. Including actor Maja Ostaszewska, who plays one of the film’s protagonists.
“I am with you,” she announced, responding to the “offensive, filthy attack on the artist, but also on the freedom of speech and creative expression.”
“I stand behind Agnieszka Holland and express my deep objection to the disgraceful words said against her. I admire your courage, wisdom, sensitivity and your sense of duty. You are an inspiration and an authority.”
“Messages of solidarity have been coming in from all over the world. In such dangerous and difficult times, they are much appreciated,” notes Downey. “The response of Agnieszka Holland and her attorneys is bold. In true Agnieszka style, she has confidently told the truth to those in power. She is an extraordinarily brave and courageous artist, whose fearlessness in the face of injustice and such vile and personal attacks from the uninformed members of the regime has been an example of great personal engagement and commitment.”