Whether they are directors, actors, critics or festival directors, these veterans of the Ukrainian seventh art, now refugees, warn of the threat posed by Russian films, vectors of propaganda.
All generations of Ukrainian cinema condemn the war raging in Ukraine. After a call for a total boycott of Russia launched by seven filmmakers, veterans of the Ukrainian seventh art challenge the international community on the threat posed by Russian films, vectors of Vladimir Putin’s propaganda.
Director Roman Balayan is one of the first to openly condemn Russian cinema. “It would be strange to say the least, after Russia’s inhuman and fascist actions in Ukraine, if international film festivals allow Russian films to participate in their programs this year” alarms the octogenarian. Evacuated from kyiv, he is currently finding refuge on Hungary’s border with Ukraine.
Critic and historian of Ukrainian cinema, Lubomir Hosejko now lives in France. It testifies to the impact that the rejection of Russian cinema has had on French festivals. Although the Cannes Film Festival is content to refuse official Russian delegations, the writer wishes to point out that not all of them agree to boycott Russian film screenings. Like the Les Reflets du cinema festival in Le Mans, which is currently taking place, whose program is devoted to Black Sea cinema, Ukrainian and Russian films included. Faced with this maintenance, Lubomir Hosejko calls “to the boycott of Russian cinema at all film events in France and Europe”.
Actress and pioneer of Ukrainian theatre, Ada Rogovtseva, 84 years old, considers “that the screening of Russian films at film festivals is now totally unacceptable. This country sows death, and not the reasonable, the good, the eternal. she chants. The artist contributes to the war effort by volunteering at home. She feeds and whitens the volunteers who have gone to the front. A young actor died there, with whom she was to go back on stage on March 18. “It’s like burying a son.”
Russian by birth, Ukrainian by nationality, Serhiy Bukovsky, documentary filmmaker including Spell Your Name, produced by Steven Spielberg, had a ringside seat when the Russian offensive began on February 24. With his family, he fled his village to reach the Romanian capital. “All hard drives with movies are at home. Thank goodness our producer uploaded all the material for the new work I just started editing. Now we are thinking about how to continue this work which is extremely important for the current times”.
In his statement, the director accuses the Russian authorities of carrying out a “brainwashing” to its population. The cultural sphere would have been “committed to this work, including the cinema”. Serhiy Boukovsky certifies that from 2014 Russia produced films centered on Russian troops, glorified as “heroes coming to liberate the peoples of Crimea and Donbass from Ukrainian nationalists“.
Volodymyr Voitenko, chairman of the board of directors of the Union of Film Critics of Ukraine, is determined to stay in the country no matter what, shares the same opinion as director Serhiy Boukovsky. Russian films, which they qualify as “an imperial weapon of the Russian world”must be removed from cinemas, platforms and festivals, “despite all their artistic virtues“. According to him, this withdrawal will lead to “true disarmament of the bloody and dying Russian Empire”.
“The only way to change the fascist regime of Putin’s Russia is complete isolation from Russian society, Russian culture and sportssays Andriy Khalpakhchi, director of the Molodist kyiv International Film Festival, the country’s largest film festival. The septuagenarian in turn supports “fully the complete boycott of Russian cinema, regardless of the civic position of some directors” and regrets that the Molodist festival has not withdrawn any Russian film from its program in recent years.