MoMI to Host Agnieszka Holland Retrospective Before ‘Green Border’ Premiere

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Agnieszka Holland’s filmography will be celebrated this June thanks to the Museum of the Moving Image and the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

MoMI will host a retrospective featuring nine of Holland’s most beloved films leading up to the release of her latest “Green Border.” The nine features include highlights “Europa Europa” on and “The Secret Garden,” which both will screen in 35mm with Holland in attendance on June 20 and 21.

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The retrospective will take place from June 7 through 21 and serve as a toast to Holland’s “undimmed ability to depict historical trauma and human struggle with sensitivity and compassion” across her 60 years in filmmaking, per the official press statement.

The retrospective will feature her initial work made in Poland, including “Provincial Actors,” “Fever,” and “A Woman Alone,” along with Holland’s 1990s art house features “Europa Europa” and “The Secret Garden,” and depictions of present-day political resistance like “Spoor” and “In Darkness.”

Holland’s “Green Border” will open June 21 at Film Forum in New York, as released by Kino Lorber, and will expand to Los Angeles June 28. The black-and-white refugee crisis drama won the Special Jury Prize at the 2023 Venice Film Festival. Holland co-wrote the script with Maciej Pisuk and Gabriela Łazarkiewicz-Sieczko, with the feature being inspired by the real-life 2021 threat by Belarus’ dictator Alexander Lukashenko against people stuck at the green border, also known as the area between Poland and Belarus. Holland’s “Green Border” has the sensibilities of a documentary, with the cast composed of Jalal Altawil, Maja Ostaszewska, Tomasz Włosok, and Behi Djanati Atai.

The film was labeled to be “anti-Polish” by the nation’s exiting conservative leader Mateusz Morawiecki with its portrayal of refugees. The Directors Guild of America and the European Film Academy defended director Holland.

The Holland retrospective series is co-programmed by MoMI Curator of Film Eric Hynes and Tomek Smolarski, who is the Film and Performing Arts Curator at the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

Check out the full lineup below.

Provincial Actors 

Friday, June 7, 6:45 p.m.

Dir. Agnieszka Holland. 1979, 121 mins. Poland. In Polish with English subtitles. DCP. With Tadeusz Huk, Halina Labonarska. Holland first gained early recognition with this powerful, claustrophobic study of the tensions and conflicts amongst the members of a minor theatrical troupe in a small town near Warsaw. Provincial Actors employs Brechtian distancing devices to intensify an atmosphere and searingly explore her characters’ predicaments. It’s a film that reflects Holland’s love of theater, abhorrence of censorship, ambiguity towards relationships, and overall mischievous sense of humor, all while avoiding the clichés of the backstage genre.

Fever 

Saturday, June 8, 1:30 p.m.

Dir. Agnieszka Holland. 1981, 122 mins. Poland. In Polish with English subtitles. 2K restored DCP. With Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Barbara Grabowska, Adam Ferency. Holland’s tense, gripping 1905-set drama depicts a group of underground Polish anarchists as they arm themselves and build bombs to resist the incoming Russian Tsarist oppression. Lead actress Grabowska won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 1981 Berlin International Film Festival for the film, yet the film was nevertheless banned in Poland after martial law was declared later that year. Fever was the second to last film Holland made in her home country before being exiled to France.

A Woman Alone 

Saturday, June 8, 4:00 p.m.

Dir. Agnieszka Holland. 1987, 92 mins. Poland. In Polish with English subtitles. DCP. With Maria Chwalibóg, Bogusław Linda, Paweł Witczak. Holland’s last film made in her home country before she self-exiled to France is a thinly veiled critique of the communist totalitarian system that was banned in Poland. In this powerful character portrait, a woman (a brilliant performance by Chwalibóg) struggles to raise her eight-year-old son with little support in a small town. This nuanced, finely crafted film is a quietly startling vision of communist government bureaucracy, detailing its stifling impact on the daily lives of the community and individual.

Europa Europa

Saturday, June 9, 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, June 20, 7:00 p.m. With Agnieszka Holland in person

Dir. Agnieszka Holland. 1990, 112 mins. 35mm. Germany, France, Poland. In German, Russian, Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish with English subtitles. 35mm. With Marco Hofschneider, Julie Delpy, Hanns Zischler. Holland received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for this intensely dramatized, brilliantly acted account of the real-life experiences of Salomon Perel, a German Jew who, at age 16, concealed his Jewishness, first as a Stalinist in a Soviet orphanage then as an interpreter for the German army, and finally as an enlistee in the Hitler Youth. This World War II drama, which complexly yet sensitively details the derangement of identity during times of evil, became an international art-house sensation, officially setting the stage for Holland’s international ascendance.

In Darkness 

Friday, June 14, 6:30 p.m.

Dir. Agnieszka Holland. 2011, 144 mins. Poland. In Polish with English subtitles. DCP. With Robert Więckiewicz, Benno Fürmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader, Herbert Knaup, Kinga Preis, Krzysztof Skonieczny. Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief in Lvov, a Nazi-occupied city in Poland, encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the liquidation of the ghetto and agrees to hide them in exchange for money in the town’s labyrinthine sewers. As the enterprise begins to affect Socha’s conscience, what starts out as a straightforward and cynical business arrangement becomes an unlikely alliance. Based on a true story, In Darkness is an extraordinary tale of survival, set across 14 tense, increasingly dangerous months.

Spoor 

Saturday, June 15, 6:00 p.m.

Dir. Agnieszka Holland. 2017, 128 mins. Poland. In Polish with English subtitles. DCP. With Agnieszka Mandat, Jakub Gierszal, Wiktor Zborowski, Miroslav Krobot, Patricia Volny. In Polish with English subtitles. A film Holland has called an “anarchist, feminist, eco-thriller,” the brilliant and absorbing Spoor won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. In a village on the Czech-Polish border, retired civil engineer Janina (Mandat), who loves her dogs like they’re her children, is repulsed by the hunters who run the town. When her beloved dogs go missing, she becomes more determined to dismantle the architecture that allows the poachers to kill animals with impudence. Spoor is adapted from the best-selling novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Nobel Prize–winning author Olga Tokarczuk, who is also the film’s cowriter.

The Secret Garden 

Sunday, June 16, 1:00 p.m.

Friday, June 21, 4:00 p.m. With Agnieszka Holland in person

Dir. Agnieszka Holland. 1993, 101 mins. United States. 35mm. With Kate Maberly, Maggie Smith, Heydon Prowse, Andrew Knott, John Lynch, Irène Jacob. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s novel comes to precious life in Holland’s exquisitely mounted gothic adaptation, one of the finest live-action family films of the nineties. Maberly unsentimentally plays the stubborn, sad Mary Lennox, who, after being suddenly orphaned, is cast out of her life in colonial India and sent to live with distant relatives at a gloomy English mansion. There, she finds herself exploring the shadows and crooks of the enormous house, unlocking its secrets and wonders. Perfectly evoking the magic of one of the most cherished books of all time, Holland’s beautifully mounted film features a marvelous score by Zbigniew Preisner and evocative cinematography by Roger Deakins.

Mr. Jones 

Sunday, June 16, 3:00 p.m.

Dir. Agnieszka Holland. 2019, 119 mins. U.K./Poland/Ukraine. DCP. With James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard. Set on the eve of world WWII, Holland’s thriller concerns Hitler’s rise to power and Stalin’s Soviet propaganda machine pushing their “utopia” to the Western world. It’s at this time that ambitious young journalist Gareth Jones (Norton) travels to Moscow to uncover the truth behind the propaganda, receiving a tip that could expose an international conspiracy that could cost him and his informant their lives. Jones’s journey to uncover this truth would later inspire George Orwell’s book Animal Farm.

Charlatan 

Sunday, June 16, 5:30 p.m.

Dir. Agnieszka Holland. 2020, 118 mins. Poland. DCP. With Ivan Trojan, Josef Trojan, Juraj Loj, Jaroslava Pokorná. Few true stories tread the thin line between good and evil as precariously as that of Jan Mikolášek, a 20th-century Czech herbal healer whose great success masked the grimmest of secrets. Mikolášek won fame and fortune treating celebrities of the interwar, Nazi, and Communist eras with his uncanny knack for “urinary diagnosis.” But his passion for healing came from the same source as a lust for cruelty, sadism, and an incapacity for love that only one person—his assistant, František—could ever quell. As a show trial threatens to reveal these secrets, Jan’s contradictions are put under a microscope, with the fate of his only love hanging in the balance. Charlatan is a twist-filled personal story as well as a reflection on the price one can pay for single-mindedly following one’s calling.

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