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Ukraine's Zelenskiy Surprises Cannes Film Festival

Volodymyr Zelensky appears on a screen during the opening ceremony of the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 17.

Volodymyr Zelensky appears on a screen during the opening ceremony of the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 17.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has delivered an unscheduled address to the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival, assuring attendees that "hatred will disappear and dictators will die."

The actor-turned-politician referred to the connection between cinema and reality, making references to films like Apocalypse Now and Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, which mocked Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

"We need a new Chaplin who will demonstrate that the cinema of our time is not silent,” Zelenskiy said in his surprise video message to the ceremony in Cannes, France.

"Today, the cinema is not silent. Remember these words. The power they've taken from the people will be returned to the people."

He received a standing ovation from the audience gathered at the festival's main venue.

The festival, which was canceled in 2020 and scaled back last year because of COVID-19, had an eye turned to the war in Ukraine as it kicked off this year largely without pandemic protocols.

Several films from Ukrainian filmmakers, including Sergei Loznitsa's documentary The Natural History Of Destruction, are scheduled to be shown.

Mariupolis 2, a documentary about the conflict by Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius, who was killed in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol last month, will get a special screening.

Twenty-one films will vie for the festival's top award, the Palme d'Or, over the next 12 days. Top Gun: Maverick!, Elvis!, and the zombie comedy Final Cut are all premiering during the festival.

Final Cut, whose premiere opened the festival, was renamed from its original title, Z, after Ukrainian protesters noted that the letter Z symbolizes support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Festival organizers have barred Russians with ties to the government.

With reporting by AFP and AP

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