This film production about the migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border is very uneven. Although frankly speaking, I was expecting something much worse. I had in mind a politically engaged film by Holland, namely “Pokot” [“Spoor”] which simply turned out to be a dud. Nonetheless, at the 2017 Berlinale festival it was awarded as “the best feature film that opens new perspectives”. In my opinion, the jury came to the conclusion that this production should be honoured for its righteous – from their perspective – leftist New Age message.
Therefore I predicted that it would be very much the same with ”Green Borer”. It has recently won the Special Prize at the Venice International Film Festival. And, as we all know, the world’s cultural elites are manned by various “gallery-slaves of sensitivity” who give their attention to the misery of Asian and African migrants, while remaining blind to the full complexity of the situation.
And indeed, “Green Border” isn’t without its flaws. It’s mainly about the crude journalism that comes through in the dialogues of the Poles – both the “good” and the “bad” ones. Then there are the poor performances by Maja Ostaszewska and Maciej Stuhr – actors for whom the bar should be set high. They practically play themselves. Ostaszewska makes a fool of herself with her raptures while Stuhr comes out embarrassingly as a pathetic frustrated man fulminating against the Polish right-wing authorities.
But the dramatic fate that has befallen these exotic strangers, deceived by Alexander Lukashenka’s regime is actually a strong point of “Green Border”. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the pregnant women, and the children who are harassed by uniformed men – on both the Polish and Belarusian sides of the border. At the same time, you are gripped by anger at the politicians who have allowed this state of affairs to happen.
However, these suggestive scenes of violence prove that Agnieszka Holland is not only an eminent artist in her field. She is just very apt at exercising social engineering in the service of a specific political option (in which case not a specific party but an ideological formation).
The problem with works of art like “Green Border” is that they effectively appeal to what’s noble in people, while distorting reality. For they only take a fragment into account, without referring to the rest.
This rest is the brutal prose of life which defends itself much worse than the romantic struggle against all oppression. The “gallery-slaves of sensitivity” don’t realise that the duties incumbent on the state require from it to use coercive means. Which always entails the risk of mistakes and abuse. Only, this reason cannot make the governing bodies responsible for internal security abandon their priority tasks. Their mission is to counter hybrid attacks from the side of hostile countries. This was indeed the case in autumn of 2021. It’s not pregnant woman or children that the Polish Border Guard had to put up resistance against, but a mass of strong men.
The Belarusian regime’s initiative was designed to entrap the Polish Border Guard: if they fulfilled their duties, this would provoke accusations from the side of “human rights” activists that they were mistreating the “refugees”. And so it happened.
And the spectre of Ivan Karamzov still hangs over the Polish public debate. And what it has to say to many a Pole is: “you disgusting, hypocritical Catholic, Poland’s security is not worth a single tear on the cheek of a Syrian child.
After all, the “gallery-slaves of sensitivity” know about moral blackmail.
– Filip Memches
TVP WEEKLY. Editorial team and jornalists
– Translated by Dominik Szczęsny-Kostanecki