Ukrainian director denounces Russian presence at Cannes Film Festival 2022

Russian dissident Kirill Serebrennikov had the premiere of his in-competition film 'Tchaikovsky's Wife' at the festival

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov at a press conference for his film 'Tchaikovsky’s Wife' at Cannes Film Festival 2022. Reuters
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Ukrainian director Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk criticised the Cannes Film Festival for including a Russian director in its line-up, as the debut filmmaker's Pamfir was shown at the Cannes Directors' Fortnight on Saturday.

The festival has banned official Russian delegations from attending, but Kirill Serebrennikov, a dissident from the country who has spoken out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, had the premiere of his in-competition film Tchaikovsky's Wife at the festival on Wednesday.

"When he's here, he is part of the Russian propaganda, and they can use him," Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk told Reuters on Saturday.

Serebrennikov had said earlier this week that Russian culture should not be boycotted, saying that it "has always promoted human values".

Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk described the sensation of being in Cannes while his country fights against a Russian invasion as "alien".

"Everything what's happened here, it's something that would not belong in Ukraine — the peaceful life... We have [an] opposite reality," he said.

Set in the forests of western Ukraine's Chernivtsi region, Pamfir begins with the return of a father, Leonid, to his family after months of working in Poland.

A church fire attributed to Leonid's son Nazar forces the father to take up a quick smuggling job, angering the local contraband boss.

With references to Greek tragedy and the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, the story of fighting for redemption has resonance with the ongoing conflict.

"The film is a reflection of the strength and power of the Ukrainian people, who are very strong and who will win," said Oleksandr Yatsentyuk, who plays Leonid. "It's just a question of time... because we can't be defeated."

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Updated: May 22, 2022, 6:36 AM
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