(New York) – PEN America condemns attacks on filmmaker Agnieszka Holland by the Polish government following the premiere of her movie Green Border. The film, inspired by real-life events, tells the story of Syrian and Afghan refugees trying to reach Europe via the Belarusian border with Poland.

Polina Sadovskaya, advocacy and Eurasia director of PEN America, said: 

“Through the power of film and storytelling, Holland is shedding light on Europe’s harrowing refugee crisis, with the goal of rendering the human rights issues involved more accessible and comprehensible to the general public. This practice of socially engaged art threatens Polish politicians, who would clearly prefer to conceal details about the ways in which they are addressing the refugee crisis.”

“Agnieszka Holland is a world-renowned, three-time Academy Award-nominated director, but her fame and reputation are still not enough to protect her from virulent hate speech. In addition to entertaining us, film – and art in general – has the power to educate and open minds. Instead of attacking her, the Polish government and the international community must protect the rights of artists to free expression, and support Holland’s efforts in defending human rights.”

Before its global premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize, Green Border drew the ire of Poland’s Minister of Justice, who compared the film to Nazi propaganda. Poland’s interior minister and president soon followed with hate speech about the film. Mike Downey, Chairman of the European Film Academy, told PEN America that Holland has received death threats requiring 24-hour security service protection. 

Green Border will be shown at the New York Film Festival on October 4 and 5. 

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.


About the Artists at Risk Connection

The Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) is a project of PEN America dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the networks and organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC.


Dietlind Lerner | [email protected] | +1 310 699 8775