VENICE: After the media was denied access to migrants desperately trying to cross the Polish-Belarus border, director Agnieszka Holland decided to step in and make a wrenching movie about their plight.
Green Border, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday, tells the story of refugees, charity workers, activists and border guards, whose lives intersect in the cold, swampy forests between the two east European countries.
Migrants started flocking to the border in 2021, after Belarus, a close Russian ally, opened travel agencies in the Middle East offering a new unofficial route into Europe — a move the European Union said was designed to create a crisis.
Poland refused to let them cross, leaving hundreds stranded in a freezing no-man’s land, and temporarily imposed an exclusion zone, forbidding reporters and human rights groups from approaching the area to see what was going on.
“It was impossible for the documentary makers and the journalists to go there, but we can re-create and do something that I know how to do, make a fictional film about events which are going on right now,” Holland said.
“We had to try to capture it in all (its) possible complexity and give justice and a voice to those who have been silenced and are voiceless,” she added.
Her black-and-white film shows a family from Syria and a woman from Afghanistan thrown back and forward across the border by brutal guards indifferent to their suffering, as activists struggle to try to bring them to safety.
Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2023