NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art
honors award-winning film and TV director and screenwriter Agnieszka Holland (Polish, b. 1948) with a month-long exhibition spanning her three-decade career, from her roots as a highly political contributor to Polish New Wave cinema, through major English-language releases such as The Secret Garden (1993) and Washington Square (1997), and her most recent work as a director for the American television series The Wire. As a filmmaker, Holland has traveled from Europe to Nova Scotia and the streets of Baltimore; she has tracked German culture from the sublimity of Beethoven to the absurdity of the Hitler Youth; and she has turned the keenest of eyes on Poland, with its many splendors and contradictions.
Agnieszka Holland: Europa/America runs December 10, 2008, through January 5, 2009, in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters. The exhibition is organized by Charles Silver, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, with the assistance of Hanna Hartowicz, Director of The New York Polish Film Festival.
Although today Holland ranks as one of Poland's most prominent filmmakers, she was rejected by the famous Lodz film school. At 17 she made her way to the Prague Film and TV Academy (FAMU), where she was exposed to the work of Milos Forman, Ivan Passer, and other figures of the Czech New Wave. Her political activities led to her arrest and brief imprisonment during the Prague Spring of 1968. In 1971, she returned to Poland, where she worked with such prominent Polish filmmakers as Krzysztof Zanussi and Andrzej Wajda, and soon began a close collaboration with Wajdas film unit.
Holland's first major film, Aktorzy Prowincjonalni (Provincial Actors) (1978), which won the International Critics Prize at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, chronicled the backstage tension among actors in a small-town theater company as a metaphor for Poland's contemporary political situation. She directed two more major films in PolandGorączka (Fever) (1980) and Kobieta samotna (A Lonely Woman) (1981)before emigrating to France, just before martial law was declared in Poland in December 1981.
Hollands response to this turmoiland to her native countrys cataclysmic experiences with Nazism, Communism, and anti-Semitismcan be seen throughout much of her work. In To Kill a Priest (1988), made shortly before the fall of the Iron Curtain, Ed Harris plays Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a Polish priest who supported the Solidarity trade union movement, in which Holland was personally involved. Europa Europa (1991), perhaps Holland's best-known and well-regarded film, is based on the biography of a Jewish teenager who fled Germany for Poland following Kristallnacht in 1938.
Holland began directing episodes of the HBO drama series The Wire in 2004. Agnieszka Holland: Europa/America includes marathon screenings on December 28 and December 31 of the episodes Moral Midgetry (2004) and Corner Boys (2006), both written by acclaimed novelist Richard Price, and React Quotes (2008). Her recent television work in Poland can also be seen in a program featuring two episodes of the popular political-thriller show Ekipa (Prime Minister) (2007), on December 29 and 30.
Holland and actor Ed Harris, who is featured in three of her films featured in the first two days of the exhibition, will introduce the screenings of Copying Beethoven (2006), on December 10, at 7:00 p.m., and To Kill a Priest on December 11, at 6:00 p.m. and The Third Miracle (1999) at 8:30 p.m.