Green Border: Europe’s fascist wound according to Agnieszka Holland

Cinema began in a factory. Not in a palace or a bourgeois boulevard or a properly bucolic forest. The Lumière brothers placed their camera in front of the building occupied by their family’s photography firm in Lyon and waited. The door opened and no cowboys on horses or princes or dinosaurs or barbies came out. Workers came out. It is a frontal shot whose virtue is that of literality. In reality, it is about taking a stance. The idea is not so much to report anything as to put yourself in the right place. There are filmmakers (let’s think of Ken Loach as a paradigm) who learned the lesson and have spent their entire lives causing aesthetes around the world itch or, worse, forcing cynics to wrinkle their noses. His cinema is there because he knows, like the Lumières, that occupying the right place is important.

Agnieszka Holland belongs to this group of, let’s say, ‘situationists’. And to prove it, there it is ‘Green Border’,his latest and most inspired – as well as stark – work in a long time. The director of ‘Europe, Europe‘ (1990) o ‘In Darkness’ (2011), travels back, but not that far. It would seem that rather than the recent past it speaks of a continuous present. We are on the border between Poland and Belarus and immigrants flock there, attracted by Alexander Lukashenko’s propaganda that promises safe passage to Europe. When they get there, they will realize (and how) that they are simply pawns in a brutal geopolitical fight. They are just meat in the market that defends the privileges of a few. The army on one side facilitates their passage to the other side so that the police of the supposed host country immediately return them to the starting point. And so over and over again.

The director says that in times of social networks we have forgotten to look at the sites that the algorithm or the always angry masses have already stopped looking at. And that, perhaps, it is cinema’s obligation to do so. It is therefore a matter of placing the camera right there, in front, and seeing what happens. What is happening is one of Europe’s worst-told shames. When, over time, the refugees who travel that same path are those fleeing Putin’s war in Ukraine, then everything will be infinitely easier. And much more hypocritical. And, precisely for that reason, more cruel.

Agnieszka Holland tells the same story from several points of view: from those who suffer, from the side of the guardians and from the perspective of the convinced few who commit and help. The film leaves little room for doubt. The idea is to shock and do it with all the weapons within reach. Yes, the film is vocationally melodramatic, at times clumsy and, without false excuses, even Manichean. Could it be any other way? They are, if you will, defects, to use the language of academia, so conscious and clear that, in truth, they are something else: dynamite for the eyes.

‘Green Border’ He describes with frightening precision and with the same skill the brutality of some, the insensitivity of others, the lack of scruples of almost everyone and, for a moment, the necessary common hope (of which there is also some). What the film tells happened and it didn’t even happen near Europe, It happened in the same Europe that just voted. And how! And Agnieszka Holland limits herself, as the Lumière brothers taught us, to putting the camera where she should and in the way she should. Front cinema. Good for her, good for us.

Address: Agnieszka Holland. Interpreters: Behi Djanati Atai, Agata Kulesza, Piotr Stramowski, Jalal Altawil, Maja Ostaszewska. Duration: 147 minutes. Nationality: Poland.

By Editor

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