Ukrainian filmmakers protest Russian ‘genocide’ at Cannes premiere

Ukrainian filmmakers protest Russian ‘genocide’ at Cannes premiere

Sirens wailed, people’s faces were censored — but it isn’t Ukraine. It’s the Cannes Film Festival.

Members of the production team for “Butterly Vision,” by Ukrainian director Maksym Nakonechni, protested the ongoing war in Ukraine while on the red carpet Wednesday.

In front of Salle Debussy, the second-largest theater in Cannes, the team — including producers Darya Bassel and Yelizaveta Smit, plus actress Rita Burkovska — held a banner that read, “Russians kill Ukrainians. Do you find it offensive or disturbing to talk about this genocide?”

The sirens heard on the red carpet stairs were meant to symbolize air raids in Ukraine, while the protestors held signs that read “sensitive content” over their faces.

Not only were they demonstrating the ongoing devastation in Ukraine, but they were also attempting to show the extent of Russian censorship.

Production team protests Ukraine and Russia war
The group donned censorship signs over their faces while holding the banner.
AFP via Getty Images

The film “Butterfly Vision” explores a similar idea, albeit in a fictional world. While the film is set before the current war, it details the journey of a female soldier who flees Russia and returns to Ukraine after being held as a prisoner of war.

But this isn’t the first political statement seen at the film festival. On May 20, an unnamed woman stripped naked on the red carpet to protest numerous allegations of assaults on Ukrainian women at the hands of Russian soldiers.

Lyubomyr Valivots, Ukrainian director Maksym Nakonechnyi and Rita Burkovska
Lyubomyr Valivots (from left), Ukrainian director Maksym Nakonechnyi and actress Rita Burkovska attend the Cannes Film Festival.
EPA

Her body donned the colors of the Ukrainian flag with the words “stop raping us” written in paint across her stomach, but she was quickly covered by a jacket as security carried her away ahead of the premiere for George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing.”

Then, at the screening for Ali Abbasi’s “Holy Spider” on May 22, women from the feminist movement Les Colleuses created their own political statement. They used smoke devices to cause a spectacle as they released a banner that listed the 129 names of women who were victims of domestic violence in France since the prior film festival.

The high-profile demonstrations come after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky opened the film festival last week, drawing similarities between fictional war films and the ongoing crisis in his country.

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