President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made public statements at major events about the war in Ukraine in an effort to draw public attention towards the atrocities that are being committed in his country. After delivering a speech at this year’s Grammys, he addressed the audience at the Cannes Film Festival.
“It’s necessary for cinema not to be silent,” Zelenskyy declared while talking about the role of cinema in difficult times. There have been many journalists and filmmakers who have been covering the horrors in Ukraine for a while now, including Sean Penn who attended government press briefings and shot footage of the war.
Talking about Vladimir Putin and his actions which led to the escalation of the war, Zelenskyy noted: “The most brutal dictators of the 20th century loved cinema.” He pointed out the irony of the dictators’ cinephilia by saying that the films that were later made about these individuals were always “horrific documentaries and newsreels”.
Zelenskyy even quoted a famous line from Apocalypse Now while addressing the situation in Ukraine: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Finishing up his statement about cinema, war, history and geopolitics, Zelensky concluded that he already knows who is going to win: “I’m sure that the dictator will lose. Glory to Ukraine.”
Cannes started its proceedings with Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie comedy Coupéz, with Hazanavicius changing the previous title (which was Z) because it was a symbol used by Russian invaders. The director revealed: “My film is made to bring joy and under no circumstances would I want it to be associated directly or indirectly with this war.”