DGA Stands With ‘The Green Border’ Director Amid Polish Government Backlash, Extremists’ Threats

Agnieszka Holland has come under fire for her film’s “depictions of the brutality faced by refugees to Poland,” work that the guild says plays a “vital role” in “fostering discussion”

VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Agnieszka Holland attends a red carpet for the movie "Zielona Granica (Green Border)" at the 80th Venice International Film Festival on September 05, 2023 in Venice, Italy.
(Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

The Directors’ Guild of America has released a statement in support of DGA member Agnieszka Holland. The Polish Minister of Justice criticized the film and the filmmaker, “The Green Border.” She has since received hundreds of threats. The controversy came about due to the film’s depiction of the negative treatment of immigrants in Poland.

“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 read.

“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 latest film from the 74-year-old filmmaker concerns the swampy forests sometimes called “the green border” between Belarus and Poland. Refugees from the Middle East and Africa attempting to reach the European Union become pawns in a political crisis triggered by dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Lured to the border with false promises of easy passage, immigrants and refugees try to survive becoming geopolitical chess pieces.

Trailer for ‘The Green Border,’ which the DGA has defended from Polish government criticism

The declaration came just over a week after the Federation of European Screen Directors joined several European filmmakers in support of the well-reviewed refugee drama. That contrasts with the Polish Justice Minster who called the film “Nazi propaganda.”

Stanisław Żaryn, the government plenipotentiary for the security of the Polish information space, accused the director of being “out of touch with reality.” He claimed that the film made “insinuations that are used to attack Poland, Poles and the government”.

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian stated in his review that the film was “a vital bearing of cinematic witness to what is happening in Europe right now.” Rodrigo Perez of The Playlist called it “a righteous, masterful work, arguably [Holland’s] best since ‘Europa Europa’.”

The picture, which opens in Poland on Friday, found buyers in several territories despite (or because of?) the ongoing controversy. It will make its American debut next month at the New York Film Festival.