Triple Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland’s “Green Border,” which will premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival, before going onto Toronto Film Festival and New York Film Festival, has sold to multiple territories. Variety has been granted access to an exclusive clip from the film, and Holland’s notes on the production, which we quote from below, again exclusively.
The film’s international sales agency, Films Boutique, has sold the film to the following distributors and territories: Vercine in Spain, Panda Lichtspiele in Austria, Kino Pavasaris for the Baltics, Art Fest in Bulgaria, Magic Box in Slovakia, Fivia in Slovenia, Vertigo in Hungary and Bio Paradis in Iceland.
The film, as previously announced, has also been sold to Condor (France), September Films (Benelux), Movies Inspired (Italy), Leopardo Filmes (Portugal), MCF Megacom (former Yugoslavia), Kino Swiat (Poland) and AQS (Czech Rep./Slovakia).
“Green Border” is set in the treacherous and swampy forests that make up the so-called “green border” between Belarus and Poland, where refugees from the Middle East and Africa trying to reach the European Union are trapped in a geopolitical crisis cynically engineered by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.
In an attempt to provoke Europe, refugees are lured to the border by propaganda promising easy passage to the EU. Pawns in this hidden war, the lives of Julia, a newly minted activist who has given up her comfortable life, Jan, a young border guard, and a Syrian family intertwine.
In her as-yet-unpublished director’s notes, seen exclusively by Variety, Holland writes: “More than 30 years ago, I made a film, ‘Europa, Europa,’ about a Jewish boy who, to survive the Holocaust, first assumed the identity of a Stalinist communist youth, and then a soldier of the Wehrmacht and a student of an exclusive Hitler Youth school, becoming a young Nazi.”
“It was 1989 and the Berlin Wall had just fallen. The double title was meant to express the duality of the European tradition: Europe of our aspirations, the cradle of culture and civilization, the rule of law and democracy, human rights, equality and fraternity, but on the other hand, Europe as the cradle of the worst crimes against humanity, selfishness and hatred.”
Holland contrasts the treatment of Ukrainian refugees with that of the migrants from outside Europe. “Once again, many refugees are wandering around the woods on the Polish-Belarusian border; once again being tortured, pushed back to Belarus, and dying. The oppression of the activists rescuing them is getting harsher, and the behavior of the Polish border guards – the same ones who carry Ukrainian children across the border with tenderness and empathy – is becoming more brutal. This difference in the treatment of these two different groups of war refugees brutally exposes what we try to hide: our European racism.”
“The people and events we depict are not accompanied by the pathos of heroism and patriotism. The basic difference between the refugees in our story and those who are crossing Ukraine’s borders today is simple: the color of their skin. They have all been confronted with a choice none of them was prepared for, but which they have to face. The protagonists of the other threads of our story also face such a choice. The different points of view come together to create as complete a picture as possible.”
“I think that in their story, just as in a drop of water, our European duality is reflected – the duality I was thinking about when I gave my film the double title ‘Europa, Europa’ 30 years ago.”