"These people lived an everyday life at the bottom of that hell," Holland said. "Surrounded by the [sewage] and the rats and the darkness, they were able to educate children, to play, to make love, to pray, to cook, to breathe, to write."

Too often, Holland said, Holocaust movies "banalize the experience, make it quite conventional, theatrical and sentimental. My ambition was ... to go straight for the heart."

michael.sragow@baltsun.com

Agnieszka Holland

Born: Nov. 28, 1948, Warsaw, Poland

Education: Gimnazjum i Liceum im. Stefana Batorego (Warsaw); the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts, or FAMU (Prague)

Awards: Academy Award nominations: best adapted screenplay, "Europa Europa"; best foreign-language film, "Angry Harvest" and "In Darkness." Emmy nomination: pilot episode of "Treme"

Family: Daughter, Kasia Adamik, director; second-unit director on "In Darkness" and Holland's "Copying Beethoven" and storybook artist on numerous Holland films, as well as "Catwoman" and "Everything is Illuminated"

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