As Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine rages on, a number of Ukrainian filmmakers are calling for a cultural boycott of the country—criticizing its propaganda and Russian artists who haven’t denounced Vladimir Putin‘s dangerous regime.
Seven Ukrainian directors and producers shared statements supporting sanctions on Russian culture with Variety. Their remarks follow an impassioned plea from Rhino filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was falsely imprisoned for five years on terrorism charges after protesting Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Now on the front lines as a reservist in the national guard, Sentsov urged supporters to sign the Ukrainian Film Academy’s online petition calling for a boycott of Russian movies.
“For a week now, I have been standing in the trenches as a participant of the territorial defense of Kyiv, which is a part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he wrote in a statement shared to Deadline. “Life has changed in an instant with the fall of the first bomb on the territory of Ukraine. Everything we knew about Hitler’s invasion has now become real again.”
Joining Sentsov in his efforts is This Rain Will Never Stop documentarian Alina Gorlova, who warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made the release of any Ukrainian films this year “unlikely.” Gorlova demanded a boycott of Russian cinema until there is a “complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine,” reparation warned payments made to Ukrainians for Russian military interference dating back to 2014, and “completion of the investigation into Russia’s crimes against Ukraine in Hague.”
Antonio Lukich, director of My Thoughts Are Silent, said in a statement that his recently completed second film (partially filmed in Kyiv) may not see the light of day due to the invasion. Said Lukich, “I was evacuating my children, and I was unable to take film materials to a safe place . So now we just hope they will not be destroyed. But does it matter now? Not really…The other things matter now…As a member of the Ukrainian film community, I’m asking you to join the boycott of Russian films and culture .”
Atlantis filmmaker Valentyn Vasyanovych wrote in his statement that “it is necessary to lower the iron cultural curtain around Russia,” demanding that all communication cease “with directors who continue to live in the Soviet or Soviet paradigm and promote messages poisoned by imperial ideology in the civilized world.” Klondike director Maryna Er Gorbach similarly denounced “the madness of the Russian Federation,” urging others “to do everything in your power to stop the bloodshed.”