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Agnieszka Holland

Agnieszka Holland was born in Warsaw in 1948, shortly after Stalin had replaced Hitler in Poland. She is the daughter of two journalists. Agnieszka began to draw and write plays when she was a sickly young girl. When she was thirteen, her father was arrested as a spy by the K.G.B. He died during his interrogation. At the age of seventeen, she sent her plays and drawings to the Czech Film Academy, where they were accepted. In Prague she made her first film The Sin of God. In 1968, while attending school, she met her future husband. Because of her political activism, she was arrested and sentenced to solitary confinement for several weeks.

In 1971 Agnieszka returned to Warsaw. The theater scripts she wrote there were not well received by authorities. In spite of rejection, Holland and other artists of the period achieved great artistic creativity by satirizing the regime. In the late 1970’s she began to work for the grand master of the Polish cinema, Andrzej Wajda. With Wajda’s influence, Polish authorities accepted Agnieszka’s work. One of her early films was entitled A Woman Alone. In 1981, while she was promoting her film in Sweden, martial law was declared in Poland. Holland was warned not to return to Poland. Instead, she fled to Paris, where she was cut off from both her husband and her nine-year-old daughter. It was eight months before she saw her child again. Her husband remained in Poland. Agnieszka rebuilt her career in Paris by translating movies and writing for French T.V. In 1985 she completed her film Angry Harvest, which was nominated for an Academy Award. She made a better-known film in 1991, Europa, Europa, which was named the best foreign film by the National Board of Review. Her film Olivier, Olivier was made in France in 1992. This was the account of a young boy who disappears from his family in a small French town. Later Agnieszka was asked by Warner Brothers Studio to write the screenplay for Frances Hodgson Burnetts’s story The Secret Garden. Unlike her earlier political dramas, this was the story of a young girl overcoming difficult circumstances. Holland continues to write independently both in the U.S. and in Europe.


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