A group of prominent Ukrainian film-makers are demanding a cultural boycott of Russia, saying that it would be “an attempt to cleanse the world of the propaganda of a terrorist state”.
Seven film-makers, including Roman Bondarchuk (Volcano), Nariman Aliev (Homeward), Alina Gorlova (This Rain Will Never Stop) and Valentyn Vasyanovych (Atlantis), have each released statements outlining their support of a boycott as well as their criticism of Russian film-makers who are failing to oppose the attack on Ukraine.
Vasyanovych, whose film Atlantis premiered at the Venice film festival in 2019, said: “It is necessary to lower the iron cultural curtain around Russia. Stop any cultural collaborations with representatives of a terrorist country that threatens to destroy the whole world. Stop all communication with directors who continue to live in the Soviet or Soviet paradigm and promote messages poisoned by imperial ideology in the civilized world.”
Among other Russian cultural figures, Bondarchuk directly criticizes opera singer Anna Netrebko, who recently drew from performances with the Met in New York, saying: “Ukrainians are defending their freedom and right to exist. We need help. It is necessary to limit the influence of Russian culture in the world. Culture prepared the ideological basis for this war … Help Ukraine survive this war.”
Aliev, whose 2020 film Homeward focused on the plight of Crimean Tatars, huge numbers of whom were deported from the region in 1944, adds: “[Russia is] no longer ashamed to attack a sovereign country in front of the eyes of the world, having no right or reason to do so. Russian culture has always been an instrument for legalizing all crimes committed and committed by their authorities… The boycott of Russian cinema and culture is an attempt to cleanse the world of the propaganda of a terrorist state.”
They join earlier statements by Oleg Sentsov, the film-maker jailed for five years in Russia, and producer Denis Ivanov, who also called for boycotts of Russia. Sentsov, who was convicted of terrorism after organizing a demonstration against the 2014 annexation of Crimea, was released in 2019 and is a reservist in the national guard. In a statement he wrote: “My motherland is mercilessly shelled from the land, sea and air. Russian bombs are falling on Ukrainian children… We need your support. The support of intellectuals and artists who oppose Putin’s bloody regime. People who value human life more than anything. I request your support for the boycott of Russian [film-making] in all dimensions.” Ivanov, producer of Sentsov’s new film Rhino and Sergei Loznitsa’s Donbass, wrote in an open letter: “This war of aggression by the Russians has turned into a war on independence and a war for values and rights … On behalf of them, I’m asking for support of our boycott of Russian cinema at all international film events and all international organizations … No more ‘business as usual’ with Putin’s Russia.”
Vasyanovych is reportedly currently in a village near Kyiv, Senstov has joined the defense of Kyiv, Bondarchuk is reportedly currently in western Ukraine after organizing the evacuation of his children, and Gorlova is reportedly in Kyiv, volunteering for territorial defence. Ivanov has volunteered for service in a village 30km outside Kyiv.
The Odessa film festival reported that actor Pasha Li has been killed in Irpen, as Russian forces shelled the town. Li had joined the territorial defense forces and posted pictures of himself in uniform on social media.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism