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Ukrainian Film Academy Calls for Global Film Industry to Boycott Russian Films

Leaders in the Ukrainian film industry say that including Russian films in top global festivals "boosts the loyalty of Russian culture — the culture of the aggressor state."

Ukrainian troops inspect the site following a Russian airstrike in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Ukrainian troops inspect the site following a Russian airstrike in Kyiv, Ukraine


As Russia continues its large scale-invasion of Ukraine, much of the Western world is sanctioning the nation led by Vladimir Putin, with varying degrees of severity. While the United States has sanctioned top Russian banks and oligarchs and made it harder for them to raise money internationally, it has stopped short of more stringent measures including removing Russia from SWIFT, the network that connects much of the global financial system.

The international film community finds itself at a similar crossroads. While the stakes are lower, global film festivals, producers, financiers, and distributors are faced with difficult decisions about how to deal with Russian cinema. The Ukrainian Film Academy has weighed in on the matter, encouraging the film industry to stop doing business with any Russian filmmakers who contribute tax revenue to the Russian government. In a new statement released from Kyiv, the group also called for film festivals to stop accepting films produced in Russia until the invasion ceases.

“Several films made by Russia are regularly admitted to the programs of most world film festivals, and significant resources are spent on their promotion. The result of this activity is not only the spread of propaganda messages and distorted facts. It also boosts the loyalty of Russian culture — the culture of the aggressor state, which unleashed unjustified and unprovoked war in central Europe,” the Academy wrote.

The Ukrainian Film Academy is comprised of top artists and film industry figures from across Ukraine. More specific demands from the group include stripping the Moscow International Film Festival of its accreditation by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations, as well as removing Russia from top European filmmaking organizations.

In addition to the debate over how to handle Russian cinema, the film industry is also facing questions about how to amplify Ukrainian artists in the wake of Russia’s war against the nation. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn recently called for the industry to increase its support for Ukrainian filmmakers, saying that recent Ukrainian films could have improved our understanding of the situation with Russia before the war began. “No matter how much Western media depicts it as coming out of nowhere, these stories track the gradual encroachment of Russian ideology that rooted across Ukraine in the buildup to Putin’s harrowing assault,” he wrote. “The movies saw it coming — but who saw the movies?”

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