Agnieszka Holland is a half-Jewish director, born in Warsaw several years after the Second World War, who has had a varied and illustrious film career. She was assistant director on her mentor Andrzej Wajda’s Danton (1983), and directed films of her own in Poland, like the grim, political A Lonely Woman (1981). After 1981 most of her films, such as Olivier, Olivier (1992) and Washington Square (1997), were made elsewhere in Europe and in the United States. In recent years, she has directed episodes of David Simon’s two striking HBO series, The Wire and Treme. Holland, whose paternal grandparents were killed in the Warsaw ghetto and whose Catholic mother served in the Polish underground and helped save Jewish families, is probably best known for her Holocaust films: the psychologically penetrating Angry Harvest (1985), which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and Europa Europa (1990), her best known and critically acclaimed film. Holland has said that both Jewish and Gentile sensibilities exist within her. Consequently, all three of her Holocaust films deal with the complex relationship of victimized Jews to Gentiles in worlds—German, Polish, and Ukrainian—that either initiated or collaborated in the destruction of the Jews.
more from Leonard Quart at Dissent here.