Agnieszka Holland

Agnieszka Holland was born into an intellectual family in Warsaw, Poland. She graduated from FAMU, the Film and TV  School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in 1971. She returned to Poland and began her film career working with  Krzysztof Zanussi as an assistant director and joined the group of promising young Polish directors, "the filmmakers of moral unrest," associated with her mentor, the acclaimed Polish filmmaker, Andrzej Wajda. Earlier in her career, she also directed in the theatre, sometimes with her husband, Laco Adamik. Her TV film debut was "An Evening at Abdon's"(1975) and her first feature film was "Provincial Actors" (1978), one of the flagship pictures of the "cinema of moral disquiet" and the winner of the International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1980. Next came the films, "Fever" (1980) and "The  Lonely Woman" (1981), which she finished shortly before the declaration of the state of emergency in Poland resulting in the film being taken out of distribution because of its social critique. While she was outside Poland promoting her movie,  martial law was imposed in December 1981 and Holland decided not to return and emigrated to France. 


Her films often continued to have political and/or Polish themes and earned a great deal of critical acclaim. Holland received an Academy Award nomination for the best foreign-language film for "Angry Harvest" (1985). Subsequently, she directed "To  Kill a Priest" (1988) and "Europa Europa" (1990), for which she won a Golden Globe and received her second Academy  Award nomination for best screenplay. Holland's later films include "Olivier, Olivier" (1992), "The Secret Garden" (1993),  "Total Eclipse" (1995), "Washington Square" (1997), and "Julia Walking Home" (2001). "Copying Beethoven" (2006) marked her third collaboration with Ed Harris, followed by "In Darkness" (2011), for which she received her third Oscar nomination. Recent films include "Spoor" aka "Pokot" (awarded The Silver Bear in The 2016 Berlinale, based on the novel Drive Your Plow  Over the Bones of the Dead by Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk), "Mr. Jones" (2017-2018) and "Charlatan" (2018-2019) both of which also premiered at The Berlinale. As a screenwriter, she collaborated with her close friend, Krzysztof Kieslowski,  on the screenplay of his acclaimed trilogy, "Three Colours" (1993), and wrote several scripts for her longtime friend and mentor, Andrzej Wajda. 

Agnieszka has also worked extensively in television. Holland directed "Red Wind" as part of the "Fallen Angels" limited series (1994) and several years later, she directed "Shot in the Heart" for HBO (2001). She also directed numerous episodes of the lauded series, "The Wire," created by David Simon, also for HBO. Her credits also include several acclaimed episodes  of the AMC series, "The Killing," as well as episodes of "Cold Case." She was asked by Simon and his team to direct the pilot of the first season of his new HBO series "Treme" for which she received an Emmy nomination (2009). She also directed the finale of season one and the series finale as well. Most recently she directed the mini-series, "Burning Bush" (2013) for  HBO-Europe, which also premiered theatrically in the Czech Republic and was accepted into the Telluride, Toronto, and New  York Film festivals, highly unusual for a mini-series. She most recently directed and produced the pilot for the Hulu series  "The First" and was a director on the pilot and was the Executive Producer on the Netflix series "1983." 

Holland's body of work often reflects her Jewish and Catholic roots, dealing with issues of faith and mysticism. She often portrays people looking for a way out, striving for self-fulfillment, pursuing happiness, and failing or being forced to settle for a dubious compromise and her work poses the question of how human beings morally deal with critical situations.

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