Green Border 2023

Zielona granica

Directed by Agnieszka Holland Widescreen

Brutal, enraging and heartrending, Polish writer-director Agnieszka Holland’s controversial take on the Polish-Belarusian border crisis serves as a startling call to arms in the face of a little-seen humanitarian crisis.

Aug 14

Hollywood Avondale

Aug 15

The Civic

Poland In Arabic, English, French and Polish with English subtitles
147 minutes B&W / Colour
Violence, offensive language & cruelty


Marcin Wierzchosłąwski, Fred Bernstein, Agnieszka Holland


Maciej Pisuk, Gabriela Łazarkiewicz-Sieczko, Agnieszka Holland


Tomek Naumiuk


Pavel Hrdlička

Production Designer

Katarzyna Jędrzejczyk

Costume Designer

Katarzyna Lewińska 


Frédéric Vercheval


Jalal Altawil, Maja Ostaszewska, Behi Djanati Atai, Mohamad Al Rashi, Dalia Naous, Tomasz Włosok


Venice, Toronto, New York 2023; Rotterdam, Sydney 2024


Special Jury Prize, Venice Film Festival 2023
Audience Award, International Film Festival Rotterdam 2024


Agnieszka Holland, a filmmaker with a fascinating body of work that includes collaborating on Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours: Blue, directing episodes of The Wire and winning international plaudits for films such as Europa Europa, has rarely been as strident or unflinching as with Green Border, a sprawling and terrifying depiction of the humanitarian crisis unfolding on the borders of Poland and Belarus. The titular border is in fact a stretch of densely forested territory, into which refugees from various parts of the world are unwillingly made political pawns of the hidden conflict between the European Union and Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian ruler of Belarus. Lured by propaganda of safe passage from Lukashenko, refugees are then bullied, assaulted and otherwise tossed into the freezing and treacherous border territory, only to be rounded up by Polish border guards and tossed back into Belarus, in an endlessly repeating cycle of pain and misery subjected upon some of the world’s most vulnerable citizens.

Captured in stark black and white, Holland weaves together the disparate stories of a family of asylum seekers, a border guard facing a crisis of conscience, aid workers and a psychologist thrown into action when she crosses paths with a pair of refugees on the run. Holland has faced immense backlash in her home country, with government officials decrying the depiction of Polish border police, touching a nerve within a country wrestling with its own responsibilities and history. The film’s epilogue, a startlingly frank reflection of who is permitted asylum and why, is deeply resonant. Green Border can be a tough watch, with violence on either side of the border meted out in unflinching detail, but the persistent thrum of Holland’s outrage is what impacts deepest. In a conflict dedicated to often overwhelming dehumanisation and cruelty, that stirring of empathy within us, the audience, is what is most important to preserve. Tom Augustine