Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 23, filmmakers from both countries are speaking out against warfare.
Two-time Oscar-nominated producer Alexander Rodnyansky (“Leviathan,” “Loveless”) told Variety that he felt “unbearably ashamed” after learning of the attacks.
“I still couldn’t believe that missiles are exploding in Kyiv,” Rodnyansky said. “I couldn’t imagine that Kyiv, my native town, where my relatives, friends and colleagues live, where my parents and grandparents are buried, will be struck by missiles of the country where I have been living and working for the last 20 years, together with my family and friends.”
Rodnyansky additionally wrote in an Instagram post that he was mourning “all the people who woke up in war.”
Rodnyansky, who was born in Kyiv but currently lives in Moscow, captioned, “Today I know that the Ukrainians will come through this. Gentle and brave people will come through this war. Because they are fighting for their motherland. I know that many Russians, smart and sensitive people, are shaken to the core. They feel even more ashamed…There are no excuses for war. Whatever those who make it claim.”
Ukrainian directors including Oleh Sentso (“Rhino”), Valentyn Vasyanovych (“Reflection” and “Atlantis”), Maryna Er Gorbach (“Klondike”), Natalia Vorozhbyt (“Bad Roads”), Iryna Tsilyk (“The Earth Is Blue as an Orange”), Nariman Aliev (“Homeward”), and executive director of the Ukrainian Film Academy and OIFF Anna Machukh, penned an open letter calling for peace.
“Russia launched a full-scale war against Ukraine. Now, more than ever, we need the help of the international community and anyone who understands that tomorrow war may be at your door,” the letter reads. “We’ve talked about the war in eastern Ukraine in our films for 8 years. You watched them at the festivals. But this is not a film, but our reality. And today this reality has spread throughout our country without exception.”
The statement continues, “Ukrainian cinematographers appeal to you not to be silent, not to stand aside and [take] certain actions that can help Ukraine regain peace…The most important thing you can do now for Ukraine is to read and disseminate verified information about what is happening.”
The internationally-circulated letter included a list of outlets for “operative, truthful information,” citing that “truth is the first casualty of any war.” The group also urged for politicians to impose economic sanctions against Russia.
Tsilyk personally added, “When I’m telling about support, I mean not only the sanctions or other actions of the leaders of our allies. We also need information support. It is important to understand that Putin built a kingdom of false mirrors where white is called black and vice versa.”
Vorozhbyt shared her family’s reaction to the invasion, writing, “We took chairs, candles and water to the basement. I allowed my daughter to swear, because she was scared. My ex-husband enlisted in the army. We live in the center of Europe, in the 21st century, in Ukraine. Our closest neighbors are Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Baltics, Romania. Near Germany, France, Italy, etc. — we [can] go there by car. This is not just our war.”
Vorozhbyt concluded, “It will affect every European. It can destroy our world. Your participation, support and help are very much needed now. As well as your speeches, protests, money, weapons, sanctions. I call on the world to unite against Putin’s Russia.”
As of February 25, Ukrainian TV networks are exclusively showing back-to-back news without regularly scheduled programming. One network is even omitting commercial breaks entirely.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s 1+1 Media Group told Deadline the round-the-clock news is so that “each of our viewers feel that we are by each other’s side.”
The spokesperson continued, “It is also important to help extinguish mass panic and provide people with clear instructions on how to act in a particular region at a particular moment. There is a continuous broadcasting on the channels and commercial advertising is turned off for non-stop informing.”