Euronews Culture’s Film of the Week: ‘Zielona Granica’ (‘Green Border’)

Euronews Culture's Film of the Week:  'Zielona Granica' ('Green Border')

The title of veteran Polish director Agnieszka Holland’s powerful new film refers to the forests that make up the no-man’s land between Belarus and Poland.

There, refugees from the Middle East and Africa desperately try to reach the European Union and find themselves trapped in an absurd to-and-fro overseen by both the Belarusian and Polish governments. Refugees are lured to the border, with the promise of safe passage to the EU. The reality is that they are political pawns in a rigged game orchestrated by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko; they are brutally evicted between the two sides, neither of which claims any responsibility and continues to condemn them to a horrifically finite in-limbo.

Трубочисты Петербурга

A Syrian family arrive to the Belarus-Poland border, led by Bashir (Jalal Altawil) and their new companion, Leila (Behi Djanati Ataï). 

“This route to Belarus is a gift from God,” says Bashir’s father (Mohamad Al Rashi), not knowing the horrors that await his family at the hands of Polish and Belarusian guards operating with brutal impunity.

Over the course of four chapters (‘Family’, ‘The Guard’, ‘The Activists’, ‘Julia’) and an epilogue, their story is intertwined with that of a young Polish border guard Jan (Tomasz Włosok) and the newest recruit of a local activist group, the psychiatrist Julia (Maja Ostaszewska), who wakes up to her own complacency and complicity. Each section looks at the crisis from a different perspective, and the results are hard to shake.

Holland says it best in her director’s notes: “We live in a world where it takes great imagination and courage to face all the challenges of modern times. The social media revolution and artificial intelligence have made it increasingly difficult for genuine voices to be heard. In my opinion, there is no point in engaging in art if one doesn’t fight for that voice, if one doesn’t fight to ask questions about important, painful, sometimes unsolvable issues that put us before dramatic choices.”

Green BorderMetro Films — Condor

Written by Holland, Gabriela Łazarkiewicz-Sieczko and Maciej Pisuk, Green Border is based on meticulous research, including interviews with refugees, border guards and activists. This gives a raw authenticity to the performances (with Behi Djanati Ataï’s Leila standing out), and further weight to Tomek Naumiuk’s superb black-and-white photography – which often lends the film a quasi documentary feel, and makes it chillingly timeless.

Green Border recalls another recent film: Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić‘s Quo Vadis, Aida?, in the way Holland deftly narrows the scope of the narrative without ever diminishing the scale of the real-life atrocity. Both films are devastating and compassionate, always avoiding melodrama, and choosing to focus instead on the shards of light desperately fighting to peek through corroded humanity.

Green BorderMetro Films — Condor

Holland’s film occasionally stumbles, with one unnecessary scene of Jan having a solo shouting fit in his car, but the ‘Guards’ segment is wisely kept to a minimum. The dehumanizing treatment from the indoctrinated guards is shown with gruelling precision, to better expose the sins of those who weaponize the persecuted to antagonise the EU. And Holland does not go lightly when it comes to calling out Poland’s inhumane policies, asking vital questions about collective responsibility and inaction in a geopolitical landscape Europe – as a collective – finds itself in.

These uncomfortable questions were heard, as former Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro labelled Green Border as “Third Reich propaganda” even before he saw the film, while Polish president Andrzej Duda also made a Nazi comparison, calling for a boycott of the film and saying “only pigs sit in the cinema” — a World War II slogan used by the Polish resistance during German occupation when only Nazi propaganda films were shown in Polish theatres.

Make of that what you will considering the xenophobic rhetoric and extremist policies at play, but comments like these have paradoxically drummed up enthusiasm, helping the film to reach a wider audience.

Sadly, these have also come with death threats aimed at Holland from right-wing extremist groups. Not something you’d expect a three-time Oscar nominee to have to deal with…

Green BorderMetro Films — Condor

Of note is the film’s short epilogue – set a year later in 2022. It is the perfect way to cap off an already bracing drama.

It shows in a matter of minutes that in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the very same border welcomes thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Same pain, same loss, same devastation – different skin colour. 

This is hardly new; neither is the fear that any of us could be next. However, its inclusion assures that you’ll leave this film shaking with rage, powerlessness, but above all incapable of ignoring the sin of hypocrisy when it comes to mass dehumanization.

Green BorderMetro Films — Condor

Alongside The Zone of Interest, Green Border is one of the most gripping films you’ll see this year. 

By telling a raw, human story that doesn’t devolve into sentimentality, or hectoring that could fuel audience fatigue when it comes to migrant narratives on screen, Holland has delivered a stylish and incisive cri-du-coeur that gives a voice to the voiceless.

Rare are films that manage to deftly blend righteous anger and compassionate filmmaking like this one. 

Unmissable, to say the very least.

Green Border has started its European theatrical rollout – it is already out in Poland and Germany; released in France, Belgium and Italy next week; and will hit cinemas in the Netherlands and Spain later this year.

Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for our exclusive interview with Agnieszka Holland.


Нажмите, чтобы оценить статью!
[Итого: 0 Среднее значение: 0]

Показать больше

Добавить комментарий

Ваш адрес email не будет опубликован. Обязательные поля помечены *

Add your own review


Кнопка «Наверх»