Director and screenwriter. Born on 28th November 1948 in Warsaw. In 1971, she graduated from the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague known as FAMU. Back in Poland, she gained experience as an assistant director to Krzysztof Zanussi on the set of Illumination (1973). She also started collaborating with X Film Group.
As a director, she debuted on television with a short film, Evening at Abdon’s (1975). Her full-length feature debut Provincial Actors (1978), regarded as one of the most important films of the Polish cinema of moral anxiety, won numerous awards, including the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1980 international Festival de Cannes. Meanwhile, she wrote the screenplay for Andrzej Wajda’s Without Anaesthesia (1978), the winner of the Gdańsk Golden Lions at the 1978 Polish Film Festival in Gdańsk.
In 1981, she received the Gdańsk Golden Lions for Fever (1980), an adaptation of Andrzej Strug’s novel, Dzieje jednego pocisku [What Happened to a Bomb]. Her next film, A Lonely Woman (1981), was stopped by censorship and waited six years for an official premiere. At the 1988 Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, it received the Special Award of the Jury.
In 1981, when martial law was imposed in Poland, Agnieszka Holland had already been living abroad, where she decided to stay, mainly in France and the Federal Republic of Germany. She continued her collaboration with Andrzej Wajda writing screenplays for some of his films, like Danton (1982) and Korczak (1990), but she never stopped developing her own projects. Her Holocaust-themed Angry Harvest (1985) was nominated for the Academy Award for Foreign Language Film. In 1992, she received the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Foreign Language for Europa Europa (1990).
Shortly after that, her international career gained momentum. In 1991, she made her first French drama Olivier, Olivier (1991) and two years later – The Secret Garden (1993) followed by other American productions, such as Total Eclipse (1995), Washington Square (1997) and The Third Miracle (1999).
Despite her global success, Agnieszka Holland hasn’t cut her ties with Poland, where she still makes films and TV shows. Prime Minister (2007) and Burning Bush (2013) are only two of the titles to her credit. On top of that, she directed selected episodes of the Polish TV series1983 and American shows The Killing and House of Cards for Netflix.
Agnieszka Holland is a member of the Polish Film Academy and was its President in 2008–2012. The President of the European Film Academy since 2020, she’s also the honorary President of the Directors Guild of Poland.
At the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, she received the Golden Lions three times: at the 8th edition for Fever, at the 37th edition for In Darkness, and at the 44th edition for Mr Jones.
1978 Provincial Actors
1981 A Lonely Woman
1990 Europa Europa
1991 Olivier, Olivier
2002 Julie Walking home
2011 In Darkness
2019 Mr. Jones