Green Border

Poland | 2023 | 147 min. | Agnieszka Holland

July 5 - 11, 2024

Legendary filmmaker Agnieszka Holland won the Golden Lion at the 2023 Venice Film Festival for this ground-level examination of the refugee crisis at the titular exclusion zone between Belarus and Poland, seen through the eyes of a Syrian family fleeing their war-torn home.

Green Border depicts a family of Syrian refugees as they hope to cross the border from Belarus into Poland to escape the violence of their homeland and eventually connect with relatives living in Sweden. They board a plane to Belarus, comforted by Belarusian President Lukashenko’s promise of a safe trip through his country to the Polish border, but this promise is designed to amass a crowd at the border to frustrate Poland and the European Union, who do not welcome the misled refugees. While the family makes their arduous journey, the film pivots to the story of Polish psychologist Julia (Maja Ostaszewska), who experiences a political awakening that leads her to join an activist group that aids refugees camping out in the forest at the border. It is here where the family, accompanied by an Afghan English instructor, Leïla (Behi Djanati Atai), encounters Julia. The film then boldly shifts focus to Jan (Tomasz Wlosok), a Polish border guard whose pregnant wife refuses to acknowledge his participation in the horrific treatment of the refugees—actions that his captain explicitly endorses—until she witnesses a video of it. Whereas Lukashenko sought to reduce Syrian refugees to political pawns devoid of personhood, Green Border asserts the humanity of diverse people affected by the crisis, bestowing each with their own motives, dreams, and fears.

—Angel Cetorelli

  • Original Language Title: Zielona granica
  • Director: Agnieszka Holland
  • Principal Cast: Jalal Altawil, Maja Ostaszewska, Behi Djanati Atai, Tomasz Wlosok, Al Rashi Mohamad
  • Country: Poland, USA, France, Czech Republic, Belgium, Germany, Turkey
  • Year: 2023
  • Running Time: 147 min.
  • Producer: Fred Bernstein, Agnieszka Holland, Marcin Wierzchoslawski
  • Screenplay: Maciej Pisuk, Gabriela Lazarkiewicz, Agnieszka Holland
  • Cinematographers: Tomasz Naumiuk
  • Editors: Pavel Hrdlicka
  • Music: Michelino Bisceglia, Arthur Brouns
  • Awards: Venice International Film Festival 2023 (Special Jury Prize), Chicago International Film Festival (Audience Choice Award; Best International Feature Award) Palm Springs Film Festival 2024 (MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award), Rotterdam Film Festival 2024 (Audience Award, Best Film)
  • Filmography: Charlatan (2021), Mr. Jones (2019), Spoor (2017), Burning Bush (2013), In Darkness (2011), Janosik: A True Story (2009), Copying Beethoven (2006), Julie Walking Home (2002), The Third Miracle (1999), Washington Square (1997), Total Eclipse (1995), The Secret Garden (1993), Olivier, Olivier (1992), Europa Europa (1990), To Kill a Priest (1988), Angry Harvest (1985)
  • Language: Polish, Arabic, English, French
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • US Distributor: Kino Lorber
  • International Sales: Films Boutique