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Agnieszka Holland's Poland

Programmed by: David Schwartz

Co-Presented with the Polish Cultural Institute

Born in Warsaw in 1948, Agnieszka Holland has had a turbulent relationship with her home country. Inspired by the Czech cultural revolution of the mid-1960s, she moved to Prague to study filmmaking under Miloš Forman. After the Soviet Union retook control of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Holland moved back to Poland. Working as assistant director and screenwriter to Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Zanussi, she learned how to create honest, uncompromising, and politically relevant work while under the thumb of a repressive government. Holland established herself as a significant director with a trilogy of powerful and unflinching films: Provincial Actors, Fever, and A Woman Alone. Facing censorship of her work, she left Poland, and went on to a successful career in France, Germany, England, and the United States. With remarkable courage, she returned last year to Poland to make Green Border, a drama that was labeled by The New York Times in late 2023 as a “Polish film that Poland’s leaders hate.” This is a rare opportunity to see Agnieszka Holland’s early trilogy, along with a special screening of of her newest work (courtesy of Kino Lorber).

This series is made possible with support from the Polish Cultural Institute. Guest curator David Schwartz, an independent curator and writer, is the former Chief Curator at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

Green Border (2024)

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Agnieszka Holland · 152m · DCP

Agnieszka Holland’s great new film dramatizes the plight of a group of Syrian refugees who become political pawns in a deadly game at the border of Belarus and Poland. It also looks at the response of the police, government officials, activists, medical workers, and regular citizens caught up in the unfolding crisis. With the urgency of journalism and the intimacy and storytelling power that marks Holland’s best work, Green Border is a thriller whose stakes are all too real.

Wednesday, July 10th 7:00PM · Saturday, July 13th 4:00PM

Provincial Actors (1979)

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Agnieszka Holland · 108m · DCP

Holland gained international recognition for this allegorical drama that looks at the artistic and personal conflicts within a small theater company staging a production of the nationalist play Liberation. The lead actor clashes with the director, who is constantly editing the play; meanwhile, his artistic self-absorption damages his relationship with his wife. Drawing on Holland’s own experiences in theater, the film is suffused with the complexity, ambiguity, boldness, and dark humor that marks her work.

Saturday, July 20th 4:00PM

Fever (1981)

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Agnieszka Holland · 122m · DCP

Set during the short-lived 1905 Polish uprising against the Russian empire, Holland’s fascinating and ambivalent drama about the promise and failures of revolutionary movements was very timely, made between the rise of the Solidarity movement and the imposition of martial law in Poland in the early 1980s. Fever follows the story of a bomb that keeps changing hands, looking with clear-eyed skepticism at the people who plan to use it. Barbara Grabowska won the Best Actress Award at the Berlin Film Festival for her performance in the film.

Saturday, July 27th 4:00PM

A Woman Alone (1987)

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Agnieszka Holland · 92m · DCP

A single mother, unforgettably portrayed by Maria Chwalibóg, is disdained by her co-workers and society at large. With nobody offering support, she seeks refuge in a highly unlikely romance. At once one of Holland’s most emotionally compelling films and most trenchant political critiques, A Woman Alone could not be released until 1987 due to its harsh view of the failures of socialism.

Saturday, August 3rd 4:00PM