Mentored and influenced by two of Poland's greatest filmmakers—Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Kieślowski—it's not surprising that Agnieszka Holland would also become known not just as one of her nation's finest, but one of the world's best.
Holland, 63, recently received even further critical acclaim when her latest project, In Darkness, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. The film opens in limited release this week, and will go wider in the coming weeks.
It is not Holland's first Oscar nomination; she was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for 1992's Europa Europa, which she also directed. (She lost out to Ted Tally, writer of The Silence of the Lambs, that year.) The veteran filmmaker is also known for such movies as Copying Beethoven (2006) and The Secret Garden (1993), and numerous TV series, including episodes of The Killing, The Wire, and Cold Case.
Christianity Today recently interviewed Holland in Los Angeles to discuss her career in general, and In Darkness in particular. She is diminutive, but has presence. Her wise gaze, her stolid demeanor and her salt-and-pepper, bobbed hair testify to a fierce intellect, strong personality, and deep wisdom.
In Darkness centers on sewer worker and petty thief Leopold Socha, who hides his stolen loot in the sewers beneath the Polish city of Łódź during World War II. When the Nazis invade, Socha stumbles upon some Jews who are hiding in the sewer. Will he turn them over to the Germans, or will he take their own offers of money to keep them hidden?
Socha tells his wife he is tempted to turn in the Jews, justifying himself with the statement that Jews killed Jesus. When his wife informs him that in fact Jesus himself was ...