Agnieszka Holland’s Controversial Polish-Belarussian Border Drama Comes to Madison

In a prelude to the 2023 Madison Polish Film Festival, Agnieszka Holland’s newest—and perhaps most controversial yet—feature film Green Border (Pol. Zielona granica, 2023) is coming to Madison. A fictionalized version of real-life events, the film explores the drama of African and Middle Eastern refugees stuck at the Polish-Belarussian border. Green Border will screen on Sunday, November 5, in a free and open-to-public event at the Marquee Cinema in Union South.


Green Border (Zielona granica, 2023) by Agnieszka Holland (2023 Madison Polish Film Festival)

Directed by Agnieszka Holland, Green Border (Zielona granica) is a 2023 feature film that has won the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival. The film explores the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarussian border through the lens of Julia, an activist who gave up her comfortable life, a young border guard Jan, and a Syrian refugee family. A joint co-production between Poland, Czechia, France, and Belgium, Green Border premiered in Venice and had also been shown at film festivals in New York City, Toronto, and Vancouver. As an international production dealing with a global issue, the film features dialogues in Polish, English, French, and Arabic.

» Looking for Polish language & culture courses at UW-Madison? Start your search here

Shot in just 30 days in black and white after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has already begun, Green Border comes at a time when millions of Poles have welcomed Ukrainian refugees at their homes. While the film has attracted criticism from government circles for its portrayal of Poland and Polish border guards, its director imagined it as a way of doing away with the helplessness she felt watching the Polish-Belarussian border crisis unfold.


The screening will precede the official start of the 2023 Madison Polish Film Festival, with another selection of the most recent Polish films on November 19 and December 3. This year, the Festival lineup includes features by Anna Maliszewska (Daddy / Tato), Maciej Kawalski (Dangerous Gentlemen / Niebezpieczni dżentelmeni), Beata Dzianowicz (Shreds / Strzępy), and Michał Kwieciński (Filip). For more information, including dates and screening times, official trailers, film synopses, and location and parking, click on the post “Announcing 2023 Madison Polish Film Festival” below.

Announcing 2023 Madison Polish Film Festival


Best known for her Academy Award-nominated feature Europa, Europa (1990), which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Agnieszka Holland is one of Poland’s most accomplished film directors. Born in 1948 in Warsaw, Poland, she studied at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czechoslovakia. There, she witnessed the 1968 Prague Spring firsthand and was arrested for supporting the dissident movement, which shaped her as an artist and person.

» What was the Prague Spring and why was it important? Enroll in SLAV 254 to find out

Holland began her film career as an assistant to fellow directors Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Zanussi before striking on her own. In addition to numerous films, she has also worked on several U.S. and Polish TV series, including The Wire and House of Cards. Her most recent films include the historical thriller Mr. Jones (Obywatel Jones, 2019), a biopic Charlatan (Szarlatan/Šarlatán, 2020), and Green Border (2023).

Screening information

Date: Sunday, November 5, 2023
Time: 5 to 7:30 pm
Location: Marquee Cinema, Union South (2nd floor, room 254)
Admission: FREE
Event link:

Location and parking

The Marquee Cinema is located in Room 245 on 1308 West Dayton Street in Madison. Parking is available on lots 80 (Union South Garage), 17, and 20, in addition to numerous UW and City of Madison parking options. The Marquee is located close to bus routes 2, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 28, 38, 44, 48, 70, 72, and 80.

For more information on South Union parking, visit this guide. For a guest user guide, see this booklet. To find the best bus route, visit the Madison Metro Transit trip planning guide.

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Celebrating Polish cinema at UW–Madison since 1991

The annual Madison Polish Film Festival is co-organized by the UW–Madison Polish Studies program and the Polish Student Association in collaboration with the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic+ (GNS+), Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Film Committee, and the Polish Heritage Club, Madison–Wisconsin. Inaugurated in 1991 by our longstanding Polish language lecturer Dr. Ewa Miernowska, the festival has quickly become an annual celebration of Polish cinema. Since then, it has attracted hundreds of viewers each year and is now a major cultural event at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Greater Madison Area. In 2021, the Festival’s longstanding director Dr. Miernowska received a prestigious distinction from the Chicago Society for Arts for her outstanding merits in promoting Polish cinema in North America. The award ceremony took place at the Polish Film Festival in America in Chicago.

Donate to UW–Madison Polish Studies program

The UW–Madison Polish Studies program is actively involved in researching, teaching, and promoting Polish film, language, literature, and culture. Since its establishment more than 80 years ago, our faculty has trained hundreds of students in these areas and disciplines, in addition to organizing numerous events such as the annual Madison Polish Film Festival. If you would like to help us continue our rich tradition of promoting Polish culture in Wisconsin and beyond, consider donating to our program using the Donate banner below. You can also consider setting up a fund to support our students or faculty in their studying, teaching, research, or outreach activities. To learn more about our program and what we do, click here.

Questions? Email Rebecca Forbes Wank, our Financial Specialist, or Dr. Łukasz Wodzyński, our Professor of Polish, to start the conversation today.

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UW–Madison Polish Studies Program

Educating the Wisconsin public about the Polish language, literature, and culture since 1936.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Polish Studies Program is the oldest academic program in the United States focused on the study and teaching of the Polish language, literature, and culture. UW–Madison Polish studies offer a comprehensive package of Polish language, literature, and culture courses, a generous scholarship program designed exclusively for its students, and various extracurricular activities each academic year.

The program, dating back to 1935, offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced Polish language courses, in addition to intensive Polish courses for heritage speakers and (under)graduate students. In 2011, the program received the prestigious 2022 Award Distinction from the University of Warsaw for its achievements in promoting the Polish language and knowledge about Polish culture and history. The UW–Madison Polish program also offers a broad range of Polish culture courses on Polish film, contemporary Polish culture, Polish migration to the Americas, a survey of Polish culture from the Middle Ages to modern times, Polish comedy culture, and post-communism.

Each year, the UW Polish program awards scholarships for tuition through the Lapinski fund to undergraduate and graduate students studying the Polish language, literature, and culture. The Polish Student Association (PSA) provides a space for all students interested in events, activities, and learning about Poland and Polish culture. In collaboration with the Polish program faculty, the PSA also co-organizes the Madison Polish Film Festival, an annual celebration of Polish cinematography in Madison, Wisconsin, now in its fourth decade of existence.