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An emotionally devastating indictment of the ongoing crisis in the European Union – and one of Agnieszka Holland’s best films. It won the Special Jury Prize at Venice last year, and is one of the most entertaining films you’ll see in 2024.

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

There, refugees from the Middle East and Africa desperately try to reach the EU and find themselves stuck in an absurd back-and-forth situation under the supervision of both the Belarusian and Polish governments. Refugees are lured to the border with promises of safe entry into the EU. The reality is that they are political pawns in a rigged game orchestrated by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko; They are ruthlessly eviscerated between the two sides, with neither claiming any responsibility and continuing to condemn them to a frighteningly limited extent.

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A Syrian family led by Bashir (Jalal Altawil) and his new companion, Leila (Behi Janati Atai) arrive at the Belarus-Poland border.

“This passage to Belarus is a gift from God,” says Bashir’s father (Mohammed al-Rashi), noting that he had no idea the horrors his family endured because of the brutal impunity of Polish and Belarusian guards. have to do.

Over the course of four chapters (‘Family’, ‘The Guard’, ‘The Activists’, ‘Julia’) and an epilogue, their story intertwines with that of Jan (Tomasz Włocz), a young Polish border guard and his latest recruit. Psychotherapist Julia (Maja Ostaszewska), a local activist group, awakens 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 that requires great imagination and courage to meet all the challenges of modern times. The social media revolution and artificial intelligence have made it harder to hear real voices. In my opinion, there is no point in being involved in the arts if one does not fight for that voice, if one does not fight to ask questions about important, painful, sometimes unsolvable issues that force us to make dramatic choices. Let’s stand in front of.

Written by Holland, Gabriela Lazarkiewicz-Cieszko and Maciej Pisuk, green border Based on meticulous research, including interviews with refugees, border guards and workers. This gives a raw authenticity to the performances (along with Behi Djanati Atai’s Lila), and further emphasizes Tomek Naumiuc’s stunning black-and-white photography – which often gives the film a semi-documentary feel, and it Makes it extremely timeless.

green border Another recent film comes to mind: that of Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanić. Quo Vadis, Aida?, the way Holland cleverly limits the scope of the narrative without diminishing the scale of real-life atrocities. Both films are devastating and compassionate, always avoiding melodrama, and choosing instead to focus on the fragments of light that are struggling to peek through the mangled humanity.

Holland’s film occasionally stumbles, fitting in an unnecessary scene of Jan screaming alone in his car, but the ‘Guards’ segment is wisely kept to a minimum. The inhumane treatment of principled guards is shown with gruesome accuracy, to better expose the sins of those who arm those persecuted for opposing the EU. And that does not come lightly when it comes to exposing Poland’s inhumane policies, asking important questions about collective responsibility and passivity in the geopolitical landscape of Europe in which Holland – as a collective – finds itself.

These uncomfortable questions were heard, as former Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro green border Even before the film was seen it was denounced as “Third Reich propaganda”, while Polish President Andrzej Duda also made Nazi comparisons, called for a boycott of the film and said that “only pigs sit in the cinema” – an allusion to World War II. Slogan that was used by the Polish resistance during the German occupation when only Nazi propaganda films were shown in Polish theatres.

Say what you will, considering the xenophobic rhetoric and extremist policies, but such comments have paradoxically boosted enthusiasm, helping the film reach a wider audience.

Sadly, these also include death threats against Hollande from right-wing extremist groups. Not something you’d expect from a three-time Oscar nominee…

Of note is the film’s brief epilogue – set a year later in 2022. It’s a perfect way to end an already strong drama.

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

This is not a new thing; Nor is it the fear that one of us might be next. However, its inclusion assures that you will leave this film trembling with anger, powerlessness, but above all unable to ignore the sin of hypocrisy when it comes to mass dehumanization.

together area of ​​interest, green border This is one of the most entertaining movies you will see this year.

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

Rare are films that succeed in deftly blending this kind of righteous anger and compassionate filmmaking.

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At least it can be said that it is unacceptable.

green border has begun its European theater rollout – it’s already started in Poland and Germany; Released in France, Belgium and Italy the following week; And will be released in theaters in the Netherlands and Spain later this year.

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

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