Poland’s govt to run ad defending migrant policy before screenings of critical movie


WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s government plans to run adverts ahead of some screenings of the prize-winning refugee drama “Green Border” to defend its treatment of migrants crossing the frontier from Belarus, a minister said on Thursday.

Directed by veteran Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, the film has drawn a furious response from conservatives in Poland ahead of its release in Polish cinemas on Friday.

The black-and-white film shows a family from Syria and a woman from Afghanistan thrown back and forward across the border by brutal guards indifferent to their suffering, as activists struggle to try to bring them to safety.

Migration has emerged as a main campaign theme ahead of the closely-contested Oct. 15 elections, with the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) saying only its government can ensure border security.

It says the film’s depiction of what happens to migrants crossing into Poland from the east dishonours those who are protecting their country.

Deputy interior minister Blazej Pobozy called the film “disgusting slander”.

“In arthouse cinemas throughout Poland, screenings will be preceded by a special ad about elements missing in the film”, he told reporters.

“Our ads shows the context of the hybrid (border) operation and the course of this operation and what solutions we have introduced to secure the safety of Polish women and men.”

It was not immediately clear on what basis cinemas would run the advert.

Migrants started flocking to the border in 2021 after Belarus, a Russian ally, opened travel agencies in the Middle East offering an unofficial route into Europe – a move Brussels said was designed to create a crisis. Poland refused to let them cross.

“Green Border”, which won the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival, tells the story of refugees, charity workers, activists and border guards, whose lives intersect in the cold, swampy forests between the two countries.

Director Holland has previously rejected criticism of the film, saying that it is “an attempt to give voice to those who are voiceless”.

(Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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