Zelenskyy at Cannes Film Festival draws parallels between dictators & Ukraine’s plight

Against the backdrop of the burgeoning Russian war in Ukraine, the 75th Cannes Film Festival opened on Tuesday with a keynote address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In a veiled jibe at his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Zelenskyy in his virtual address quoted Charlie Chaplin’s final speech from the epic 1940s movie — The Great Dictator. “The hate of men will pass and dictators die, and the power they took from people will return to the people,” Zelenskyy said, further urging filmmakers to celebrate satire on fascism.  

“It is necessary for cinema not to be silent… It is necessary for cinematography not to be dumb. We need a new Chaplin who will demonstrate that the cinema of our time is not silent…” the embattled Ukrainian President said while speaking to the audience gathered for the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie comedy Final Cut.

Zelenskyy made an appearance wearing his usual olive green t-shirt, calm voice, and a straight face.

Zelenskyy receives a standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival

Zelenskyy’s speech began with a thunderous standing ovation following which he spoke about the connection of cinema with changing the world political graph. “I will tell you a story,” he began as he compared the Russia-Ukraine war to Charlie Chaplin’s satire comedy. Zelenskyy pushes filmmakers not to ‘stay silent’ as hundreds have died in Ukraine. He further recalled, The first (Cannes Film) Festival was to begin on September 1, 1939, but World War II broke out… For six years, cinematography has been on the frontlines of this war. For six years, cinematography has been fighting for freedom and also unfortunately for the benefit of dictatorship.” The President reckoned the instances of the war and atrocities in Ukraine comparing them to movies like Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, and Guido. “Our cities are not destroyed by virtual graphics. Many Ukrainians have become Guido and are trying to explain to their children why they have to hide in the basement. Many Ukrainians have become like Aldo Raine. The land of our country is already streaked with thousands of trenches,” he said.  

Cannes Film Festival bars Russian filmmakers with ties to Kremlin

The Cannes Film Festival has barred Russian filmmakers with a connection to Putin’s kins or Kremlin in general. The screens at the notable event are expected to see a lot more Ukrainian filmmakers. Documentaries like The Natural History of Destruction by Sergei Loznitsa. Footages shot by Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius will also be on the screens. He was killed in Mariupol in April.  


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