At this year’s Cannes International Film Festival, Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov spoke out forcefully – and obscenely – against Russia’s war on Ukraine, but was criticized for wanting sanctions lifted. imposed on one of its backers, the oligarch Roman Abramovich.
Serebrennikov’s film “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” was the only Russian film shown at the festival, which opened on May 17. It was permit by the selection committee because the production was completed before the start of the war in Ukraine and because Serebrennikov was allegedly targeted by the Russian state with a false accusation of fraud in the past.
During his film’s press conference, he said he left the country as soon as he was allowed to travel abroad. “I had to say, ‘F**k war, I hate you, goodbye.’ You cannot keep silent about this war,” he said the audience.
During his press conference, he declared that he could “perfectly understand the people who call for the boycott” and that “even hearing the Russian language is very painful for them because of the war. I understand and accept it. But we can’t stop language, we can’t stop music, we can’t stop directing, we can’t stop cinema. Can you explain to the French that at this very moment they must avoid Chekhov, Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy, Eisenstein, Tarkovsky – and forget them all? Of course, they won’t, because it’s part of their conscience. It’s not so easy to cut off Russian culture when it’s part of world culture.
He also called for the lifting of sanctions against oligarch Roman Abramovich, whom he described as a “true patron of the arts”.
As Serebrennikov was speaking at the press conference, a panel was organized at the festival by Ukrainian and American delegations, where attendees criticized the festival’s decision to include his film in the program. kyiv International Film Festival head Andriy Khalpakhchi said “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” was financed with “black money”.
“Everything and anything Russian must be cancelled,” said founder of Ukrainian production company F Films Andrew Fesiak. weapons… Russian filmmakers cannot pretend that everything is fine and that they are not guilty.”
The war in Ukraine was the focus from the start of the festival. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared on video during the opening ceremony and gave a 10-minute speech to the festival audience. He again called on Europe to ‘support Ukraine in its struggle for freedom’, comparing the bombed-out Mariupol theater to the Lumière cinema in Cannes, mentioning the morning smell of napalm from Francis Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ and, as the barber in Charlie Chaplin’s film “The Great Dictator” urged cinema “not to shut up.”
Another point of criticism, the appearance of the Russian model and influencer Victoria Bonya on the red carpet of the festival. Monaco-based Bonya has previously been captured posing in a Poutine swimsuit. This year, she joined Russian socialites in cutting up Chanel accessories in a protest against the West’s reaction to the war. That didn’t stop her from coming to the Cannes Film Festival and posing for the camera on the festival’s opening day.
There was another Russian presence at the festival, but this one went almost unnoticed. Several celebrities such as German-Turkish actress Meryem Sarah Uzerli and British singer Tallia Storm walked the red carpet in outfits by Russian designer Yulia Yanina.