Agnieszka Holland: Polish Filmmaker
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: What was Agnieszka Holland’s greatest challenge when filming “In Darkness”?
Last week we spoke with Sally Perel, whose amazing experiences during World War II were made into the award-winning movie Europa Europa. This week we’re speaking with Agnieszka Holland, the director of that film. Ms. Holland was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1948. Both her parents were journalists.
Her first major film, Provincial Actors, which was an allegory of Poland’s contemporary political situation, won the International Critics Prize at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.
Holland directed two more major films in Poland, Goraczka and A Lonely Woman, before emigrating to France shortly before the December 1981 imposition of martial law in Poland.
In the 80s and early 90s Holland wrote scripts for fellow Polish filmmakers in exile, notably Wajda’s Danton, A Love in Germany, The Possessed and Korczak. She also developed her own projects with Western European production companies, directing Angry Harvest, To Kill a Priest and Olivier, Olivier . Holland received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film for Angry Harvest, a German production about a Jewish woman on the run during World War II.
Holland’s best-known film may be Europa Europa, which won the 1991 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay.
Other films of hers include The Secret Garden, Total Eclipse, Washington Square, the HBO production Shot in the Heart, Julie Walking Home, and Copying Beethoven. Her 2011 film, In Darkness, was selected as the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards. In January 2012, the film was one of the five finalists. It is based on the true story of Leopold Socha, who risked his own life to care for a group of Jewish refugees in the sewers of Lvov in Nazi-occupied Poland.
In 2013 Holland filmed Burning Bush a three-part drama for HBO about Jan Palach, who immolated himself in January 1969 to protest “normalization” after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. The miniseries was selected for a Special Presentation screening at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and was also shown at the 2013 Philadelphia Film Festival. She also directed NBC’s 2014 miniseries Rosemary’s Baby, a two-part version of the best selling novel by Ira Levin.
Holland is filmmaker-in-residence at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and became chairwoman of the European Film Academy board in January 2014.
Ms. Holland was in Spain recently to attend the showing of In Darkness at the Jewish Film Festival, which is held annually in Barcelona and Madrid.
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