Due to a twist of fate, Agnieszka Holland experienced two of the most important moments in Czech history: the Prague Spring and the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops. In 1969, she personally witnessed the effect of Jan Palach's self-immolation on the Czechoslovakian nation. In 2012, she directed a film about it.

Renowned Polish director Agnieszka Holland was born on 28th November 1948 into a family of respected journalists in Warsaw. Because of her Jewish origin and the strong anti-Semitic sentiment at the time, Holland couldn't study in Poland. Instead, in the fall 1966, she went to study in Prague. Originally interested in design and fine arts, Holland eventually devoted herself to filmmaking. She graduated from FAMU in 1971. In the 1970s, she became one of the promising Polish directors associated with acclaimed director Andrzej Wajda, and part of the group known as the filmmakers of moral unrest. She won the International Critic's Award at the Cannes Film Festival for her first feature film, Provincial Actors, about the political situation in Poland. Next came the films Fever and Lonely Woman, the latter premiering shortly before the declaration of the state of emergency in Poland and was immediately taken out of distribution because of its social critique.

Holland emigrated to France, but her films continued to have Polish themes and earn critical acclaim. She received an Academy Award nomination for Angry Harvest as well Europa, Europa, a startling chronicle of a Jewish boy who lived through both Stalinist re-education and was part of the Hitler Youth movement. Europe, Europa won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Holland has directed episodes of well-known TV series including JAG, Cold Case, The Wire and Treme. Her most recent feature film, In Darkness (2011) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

As the director of HBO's three-part drama, Burning Bush, Holland captures the events and emotions initiated by Jan Palach's self-immolation – a dramatic protest designed to wake the nation's conscience.

Provincial Actors (1980)
Lonely Woman (1981)
Angry Harvest (1985)
To Kill a Priest (1988)
Europa, Europa (1990)
The Secret Garden (1993)
Total Eclipse (1995)
Washington Square (1997)
The Third Miracle (1999)
Julie Walking Home (2001)
Copying Beethoven (2006)
Janosik: A True Story (2009)
In Darkness (2011)
The Burning Bush (2012)

I remain
The testimonies of people who were there.

The Faithful I Remain website captures authentic and unique testimonies from witnesses of Palach’s sacrifice and presents fascinating stories from people who were inescapably affected by political trials, Soviet occupation and the subsequent “normalization”.

We invited publicly known figures to share their recollections of an historic and challenging time, resulting in a series of interviews full of intimate memories, experiences and impressions that illustrate critical turning points in the period of Communist rule.

The website was created by 2FRESH for HBO Europe s. r. o. to support the Burning Bush, a three-part drama from world-renowned Polish director Agnieszka Holland.The project was completed with assistance from the Prague City Council and Mayor of Prague MUDr. Bohuslav Svoboda.


HBO Europe's three-part drama Burning Bush, directed by world-renowned Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, premiered on the HBO film channel on 27th January 2013.

Both the most extensive and ambitious project in the history of HBO Europe, the film recalls a period of Czech modern history which had been ignored in Czech cinema until now.

The film begins with the reconstruction of the shocking act of Jan Palach, who set himself on fire on 16 January 1969 in protest against the Soviet occupation

The story follows the young lawyer who represents Jan Palach’s mother against an influential Communist official and serves to describe the transformation of the Czechoslovak society at the time – from the silent protest culminating at Palach’s burial to growing resignation and the upcoming period of “normalization.”

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