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Agnieszka Holland, film director: “I applied for French citizenship as soon as I could”

Agnieszka Holland grew up under a communist dictatorship. At the age of 13, he lost his father, who threw himself out of a window after being wrongly accused of being a spy by the regime. From the trials that marked his life, he gained the strength that allowed him to pursue a remarkable career as a director between Poland, France and the United States. The 75-year-old, a committed filmmaker fighting the nationalist populism of the Law and Justice Party (PiS), has been the target of violent attacks by the Polish conservative right over his latest feature film. green border (Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival), which deals with the fate of migrants between Belarus and Poland.

I wouldn’t come here if…

…If my mother didn’t have faith in me. He raised me with the idea that I was special, but also privileged. I could do whatever I wanted, but I had to share. Every time I wanted a toy, a doll, and took it, she would tell me the story of a child she knew, sick or poor, who was not as fortunate as I was, and would invite me to give her what I had just received. He taught me not to get attached to material things.

what was your mother like

She was very beautiful, gentle, and lacked confidence. His mother died when he was 6 months old. His father remarried to a woman who was not very loving. I realized how special this childhood wound was to my mother. He was born into a Catholic family, but lost his faith at an early age. He prayed so much – in vain – for his mother’s return that he told himself there was no God.

Where are your maternal grandparents from?

My grandfather was from a large and very poor peasant family. He became a teacher. At the time when my mother was born, she was an inspector of schoolchildren in the Volhynia region [aujourd’hui en Ukraine]. The children there spoke Ukrainian, but the government, which wanted to show that the region was “Polonized”, asked my father to falsify statistics, which he refused. He was kicked out of office. As a bottom-up, he takes his rights and responsibilities very seriously. This attitude affected my mother and, to some extent, my character as well.

And from the father’s side?

He came from a Jewish family, also quite poor, but with high ambitions for their only son. He was very talented. He studied medicine at a time when it was very difficult for Jews to access it. My grandparents died in the Warsaw Ghetto before the great deportation of Jews. The brothers and sisters of my grandfather, who was a tailor, all disappeared during the Holocaust. My father got involved in the communist youth very early. Later, when the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, he joined the Red Army. And when Stalin created the Second Polish Army, he signed and marched to Berlin. After the war, he worked in a newspaper intended for communist youth. He was an ardent Stalinist. But at the same time, a rebellious man who was not very friendly with the party leaders. He quickly ran into problems.

Source: Le Monde



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