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UKRAINE

Roman Bondarchuk sends a message to the international community

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- The Ukrainian director and art director of Docudays UA asks the international community, “Do not stand aside”

Roman Bondarchuk sends a message to the international community
Ukrainian director Roman Bondarchuk (© Stanislav Bokach)

Ukrainian film director Roman Bondarchuk (Ukrainian Sheriffs [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Volcano [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Roman Bondarchuk
film profile
]
), art director of the Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (whose 19th edition has just been postponed - read article) and member of the board of the Ukrainian Film Academy, has written a message for the attention of the international community:

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(This is part of a series of open letters about the war that we are receiving from Ukrainian talent - read all of them here).

“A news feed is now open:

‘Mariupol is under blockade: the occupiers disrupted the evacuation of the population and captured the entire city.’ This is the east of Ukraine, my aunt and family live there. They have not been contacted for several days. In the photos coming from the city, completely burning ruins.

‘Russia drops powerful unguided bombs on Chernihiv’ — a large family of my wife lives in Chernihiv. The city is in the north, and until the last day of peace, there was a sincere belief in the friendship of ‘brotherly peoples,’ many families mixed with Russians and Belarusians.

'Russian troops still control the perimeter of Energodar. At night they fired at the nuclear power plant’ — in the south, closer to Kherson, where I was born and where my dearest people live. The city is running out of food, the occupiers are robbing and shooting passers-by on the streets.

Among this news is a director from Russia who is against the war, against Putin, who writes that she has finished a new documentary. But she is sorry that this film is unlikely to be seen now, except by her friends. The film is about another, now deceased Russian director: Aleksei Balabanov, the author of the chauvinistic film Brother, which infected a whole generation of Russians with hatred for Ukraine. A film that formulated their need to "answer for Sevastopol" — that is, to annex Crimea. The 1997 film Brother is currently being released in Russian cinemas. According to my friend the director, Balabanov is a genius of his time. But she is against the war. And does not feel any contradiction in this.

The popular Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin, a veteran of the war in Chechnya, still travels around the Ukrainian East in tanks and writes in his books how he squeezed Ukrainians' eyes with his fingers. Renowned Russian opera singer Netrebko has decided that it is better to end her career in Austria than to condemn Putin's actions. The entire Russian Institute of Cinematography, VDIK, has hastened to recognise the independence of the LDNR republics artificially created by Russia.

Those artists who are critical of Putin have shown extreme passivity. They did nothing to stop this war or to speak out against it before it began. And now, their attempts to sign collective letters and resent the sanctions look hypocritical.

These days, Ukrainians are defending their freedom and right to exist. We need help. It is necessary to limit the influence of Russian culture in the world. Culture prepared the ideological basis for this war. A culture that can covertly justify Russia's aggression. A culture that Russia knows how to use for its purposes.

After the war, when Ukraine's existence will not be threatened by tanks and missiles, it will be possible to return to it, study it, research it and structure it. Just like nowadays, we study Riefenstahl's films or Wagner's works.

The only relevant manifestation of Russian culture now is the broadcast of Swan Lake, which traditionally marks a change of government in Russia.

There are so many other future-oriented cultures in the world. In particular, those who were oppressed by Russia. Let's turn our attention to them.

Do not stand aside. Sign the petition. Help Ukraine survive this war."

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