European festivals promote Ukrainian films in response to Russian invasion

Venice and the Stockholm Film Festival are among those involved

Several European film festivals are spotlighting Ukrainian movies in response to Russia’s invasion of the country.

The moves follow festivals, such as in Stockholm and Glasgow, boycotting Russian state-funded films outright, although many festivals are banning official delegations and not necessarily Russian films and directors.

On Monday (March 7), Rome’s Cinema Troisi hosted a free screening in collaboration with the Venice Film Festival of Ukrainian director Valentyn Vasynovych’s Reflection, a film set during the war in Donbass in eastern Ukraine in 2014 [via Variety].

Switzerland’s Visions du Réel docs festival has announced that its selections for its April event will comprise four works directed and/or produced in Ukraine. Simon Lereng Wilmont’s A House Made Of Splinters, which won a directing prize at Sundance in January, is one of the included films.

In November, the Stockholm Film Festival will host film screenings, director visits and masterclasses in order to promote the country’s cinema.

The Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival is now also supporting Ukraine with a special presentation of Ukrainian-born exiled Russian documentarian Vitaly Mansky’s Putin’s Witnesses.

ukraine russia
A general view of a near empty Independence Square on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Overnight, Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with explosions reported in multiple cities and far outside the restive eastern regions held by Russian-backed rebels. (Picture: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The news comes as seven Ukranian filmmakers urge a cultural boycott of Russia, claiming that it would be “an attempt to cleanse the world of the propaganda of a terrorist state”.

Statements have been released by several filmmakers including Volcano director Roman Bondarchuk, Valentyn Vasyanovych (Atlantis) and Nariman Aliev (Homeward) explaining their reasoning.

“Ukrainians are defending their freedom and right to exist,” Bondarchuk recently said in a statement obtained by The Guardian, while also criticising opera singer Anna Netrebko who cancelled performances at the Met in New York.

“We need help. It is necessary to limit the influence of Russian culture in the world. Culture prepared the ideological basis for this war … Help Ukraine survive this war.”

Vasyanovych added: “It is necessary to lower the iron cultural curtain around Russia. Stop any cultural collaborations with representatives of a terrorist country that threatens to destroy the whole world.

“Stop all communication with directors who continue to live in the Soviet or Soviet paradigm and promote messages poisoned by imperial ideology in the civilised world.”

Meanwhile, Netflix has suspended its service in Russia entirely in protest of the invasion.

The streaming service has joined a growing list of companies that have stopped serving Russia since the full-scale invasion began on February 24.