Poland’s government will broadcast a “special clip” in cinemas before screenings of Green Border – a new film by renowned director Agnieszka Holland that depicts mistreatment of refugees on Poland’s border with Belarus – to inform viewers of the “many untruths and distortions” it contains.
Government figures have strongly criticised Green Border over the last two weeks, despite it not opening in cinemas until tomorrow. The film has, however, won praise from critics and Holland has received support from across the film industry in response to the Polish government’s attacks.
The justice minister says it’s more important how he is judged by God than by a court so he won’t withdraw remarks likening a director to a Nazi propagandist, despite her plans to sue him
He also confirmed he hasn’t seen the film that led to his criticism https://t.co/KDeJVX4KCB
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 15, 2023
“The best way to describe this film is a disgusting libel,” said deputy interior minister Błażej Poboży today. “It shows those who risk their lives to defend the Polish border in an extremely unfair manner…It is harmful to the Polish state and to Poles.”
“Because this film contains so many untruths and distortions, we, as the leadership of the interior ministry, have decided this [film] will be preceded in all independent cinemas [kina studyjne] around Poland with a specially prepared clip that shows the elements that were missing in this film,” he added.
The term kino studyjne (literally meaning studio cinema) in Polish generally refers to independent cinemas that receive state support, as opposed to large commercial cinema chains.
💬 Wiceminister @pobozy w #MSWiA: Ponieważ ten film pokazuje fałszywy i niesprawiedliwy obraz służb i sytuacji panującej na granicy, zdecydowaliśmy jako kierownictwo #MSWiA, że w kinach studyjnych w całej Polsce film Holland będzie poprzedzony specjalnie przygotowanym spotem,… pic.twitter.com/aRFSVhwJ6d
— MSWiA 🇵🇱 (@MSWiA_GOV_PL) September 21, 2023
“The most important element” missing from the film, said Poboży, is the fact that the migration crisis at Poland’s border with Belarus has been deliberately engineered by Minsk and Moscow as part of a “hybrid operation conducted against Poland”.
The government has not yet revealed the content of the clip it will show before screenings of Green Border, which goes on release in cinemas tomorrow.
But Poboży says it will “show the context of the hybrid operation, the course of this operation, and the measures we have introduced to guarantee the safety of Poles”.
The Polish government plans to further boost troop numbers on the Belarus border amid a surge in the number of migrants attempting to cross.
Minsk also announced today that it is launching military exercises near the border with Poland https://t.co/ur7QJ0X0oI
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) August 7, 2023
Meanwhile, in a video released this morning by the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro also condemned the “disgusting” Green Border.
As he has done previously, he likened the film to Nazi and Soviet propaganda. Holland has already announced that she will sue the justice minister over such comparisons.
In his video today, Ziobro linked Holland to the domestic political opposition, noting that she has previously declared support for the centrist Civic Platform (PO) party led by Donald Tusk.
🔴 Zaplecze Tuska filmem Holland uderza w młodych polskich żołnierzy i funkcjonariuszy, którzy ofiarnie bronią polskiej granicy przed hybrydowym atakiem Łukaszenki i Putina. Jeśli chcemy silnej Polski – musimy ich bronić przed hienami Tuska.
— Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (@pisorgpl) September 21, 2023
“If we want a strong Poland, we must defend against Tusk’s hyenas,” wrote PiS, which is seeking a third term at next month’s elections.
A senior PiS lawmaker, Radosław Fogiel, told broadcaster TVP today that “it is sad” that opposition figures have welcomed Green Border as an “anti-PiS film” whereas it is in fact “anti-Polish”.
Speaking today, Tusk said that it is actually the government that has “been spitting in the faces of soldiers and the border guard” by asking them to risk their health defending the border while migrants were able to enter the country through corruption in the visa system, reports the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
Traces of a man charged over a visa corruption scandal have been removed from government webpages.
His name and photographs alongside a deputy minister who was fired over the scandal have disappeared but remain visible in archived versions of the pages https://t.co/PQFSwVJ29K
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 20, 2023
Holland herself again commented on the controversy yesterday at the premiere of the film in Warsaw. When producing the film, “we expected hate, but not so brutally and from the highest government bodies”, she said, quoted by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
“I haven’t seen this in any democratic country,” she continued. “It is terrible for all of us, because it means that we are no longer in the country we would like to be in if the highest authorities direct a hate campaign against the creator and the film.”
“If you want to support us, tell everyone you know to go to the cinema and see for themselves whether it is an anti-Polish film or whether it is a film that touches our hearts and consciences,” appealed Holland.
A majority (55%) of Poles think the justice minister should apologise to Agnieszka Holland for likening her to a Nazi propagandist while 28% think he should not.
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 19, 2023
Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.
Main image credit: Agata Kubis (press materials)
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.