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Russian Director Condemns War At Cannes Film Festival.

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov is seen outside a court in Moscow (file photo)

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov is seen outside a court in Moscow (file photo)

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov spoke out against the war in Ukraine on May 18 following the global premiere of his film Tchaikovsky's Wife at the Cannes Film Festival.
"No to the war," Serebrennikov said in Russian as he received a standing ovation for his drama, which is the only film by a Russian director among 21 entered for the festival’s top prize, the Palme d'Or. Serebrennikov appeared at a Cannes press conference on May 18 over FaceTime and discussed Russia's war in Ukraine and later told the AP that he perceives the making of movies and plays “a big, vast statement against war.” Serebrennikov, who fled Russia in March, said even as late as February 23 -- one day before the invasion started -- he did not believe war with Ukraine was possible, but it happened. “My motherland destroyed another country,” he said in the AP interview. “It's very painful, it's very sad. It's a catastrophe for all people, for Europe, for both sides.” He said many people “can't say anything, and sometimes, powerlessness and speechlessness is much more painful.” Cannes Artistic Director Thierry Fremaux said the festival wrestled with whether to include Tchaikovsky’s Wife, which was partially financed by sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, in the competition. Organizers ultimately decided to allow it because it counters Russian state narratives and it was shot before the war and subsequent sanctions. The movie highlights the destructive marriage of Russian composer Piotr Tchaikovsky to a young woman. Set in the 19th century, the film portrays Tchaikovsky as a troubled and charismatic genius who prefers the company of men -- a challenge to Russian propaganda, which has attempted to hide the famous composer's homosexuality. Serebrennikov left Russia after a court canceled a suspended three-year prison sentence he was handed in an embezzlement case that many have called politically motivated. The case drew international attention and prompted accusations that Russian authorities were targeting cultural figures who are at odds with President Vladimir Putin and his government. Hailed as a daring and innovative force on Russia's modern art scene, Serebrennikov before leaving Russia took part in antigovernment protests and voiced concern about the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox church in the country. The war has already been a major theme at the festival. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on May 17 made a surprise appearance during the opening ceremony, speaking in a live video broadcast from Kyiv. There will be a special screening of Mariupolis 2, a documentary about the conflict by Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius, who was killed in Ukraine last month. Ukrainian filmmakers also will get a special day at the festival, and one of the country's most promising directors, Serhiy Loznitsa, will show The Natural History of Destruction, a film about the bombing of German cities in World War II.


With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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