Agnieszka Holland at the award ceremony in Venice, where her film was honored with the special prize
Photo: CLAUDIO ONORATI / EPA
Poland's Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro must not compare director Agnieszka Holland or her work to authoritarian regimes. This was decided by a Warsaw court on Tuesday. Ziobro had previously compared Holland's feature film »Zielona granica« (international title: »Green Border«), which deals with the refugee crisis on Poland's border with Belarus, with Nazi propaganda.
The black-and-white drama, which was recently awarded the Special Prize in Venice, shows a family from Syria and a woman from Afghanistan who are subjected to so-called pushbacks: they are forcibly pushed back to Belarus from Poland by guards, while activists fight to bring them to safety.
At the beginning of September, Justice Minister Ziobro wrote on X about the film: "In the Third Reich, the Germans produced propaganda films in which Poles were portrayed as bandits and murderers. Today, Agnieszka Holland takes over for her.«
»A disgrace for Poland«
A new parliament will be elected in Poland on 15th October. Since migration is a central issue in the election campaign, the ruling PiS party has put the film, which was released in Poland last week, at the center of a campaign. In addition to Ziobro, President Andrzej Duda had also drawn the comparison with Nazi propaganda: Only pigs sit in the cinema, he quoted on Polish television. During the Second World War, Polish resistance fighters had used the slogan to stir up sentiment against German propaganda films, which were shown exclusively in cinemas at the time. Duda had also called for a boycott of the film.
Holland had already responded to the criticism in an interview with the private broadcaster TVN24 on Monday, describing the government as "a disgrace for Poland" and its actions against its work as "unprecedented". Holland had demanded an apology from Ziobro and held out the prospect of a lawsuit if there was no apology.
On Tuesday, there was now a verdict in the matter. On X, Holland's lawyers Sylwia Gregorczyk-Abram and Michal Wawrykiewicz announced that the district court in Warsaw had issued an order prohibiting Ziobro from comparing Ms. Holland and her works to criminal authoritarian regimes.
Deputy Justice Minister Sebastian Kaleta accused Holland and her legal team of de facto blocking Ziobro's right to freedom of expression. "Minister Ziobro and every citizen has the right to express their views and opinions," he told Reuters. "Mrs. Holland wants to deny him that right."
With their boycott calls against "Green Border", the politicians have so far met with little attention: With 137000,<> viewers, the film made the best start of a Polish production this year in Poland, according to the industry service "Hollywood Reporter".