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Agnieszka Holland: May 12,1976.

May 12,1976 "Pictures of Life"

"Wajda was so committed to my well-being that he literally offered to adopt me, if needed."

Polish writer-director Agnieszka Holland has written films for legendary helmers such as Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Kieslowski, and garnered Oscar and Emmy nominations for films like "Europa, Europa" and TV series such as "Treme." This year, Holland earned raves for directing episodes of "House of Cards." Her work on the Polish omnibus film "Pictures of Life" in 1976 garnered her first mention in Variety.

Your section in "Pictures of Life" is one of nine short films. Was it a big step in your career?

In 1976, Andrzej Wajda was the most talented director working in Poland, and he became head of a creative group that he called "X." After 1970, there was a liberalization, so he had a large degree of freedom of development, but (the shorts) still had to pass through official censorship and Communist Party censorship. Most of Wajda's contemporaries saw this as his project, and perhaps because of creative jealousy, they didn't want to be part of it. So except for one director, all of the others, including me, were recent film school graduates.

You went to FAMU film school in Prague, not the famous Polish film school in Lodz.

I went to school in Prague because there was no chance for me to be accepted at Lodz. My father was a well-known Party member and journalist who had been arrested on false accusations, and committed suicide by jumping out of a window while in custody. His death was an important event. Also, at FAMU, I was politically engaged, and I was also arrested and sentenced. Then, around 1970, the situation improved in Poland and it became unbearable for me in Czechoslovakia.

Considering the circumstances, how was Wajda able to give you such an important opportunity?

He was brave. He had a lot of problems, because none of my scripts could get passed by the censors. It was a good move to put my film among nine others. It made it more difficult to target me. Wajda was so committed to my well-being that he literally offered to adopt me, if needed.

Did you have the resources to make the kinds of films you envisioned?

Money was not so important then. It was a communist economy, so the money was not real, and we would could take a long time in shooting a film, and we could build big sets. However, film stock had to be exported from the West, and we had to shoot a one-to-four ratio, which is nothing. It's a good lesson, however, because it teaches you how to edit the film in your head.

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Author:Gaydos, Steven
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 24, 2015
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