Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky outshone the galaxy of stars assembled at the Cannes Film Festival after he addressed the opening night crowd of actors and filmmakers, delivering an emotional plea on behalf of his war-torn country, reports ‘Variety’. Appearing via video, “Zelensky had festival-goers dabbing their eyes”.
“We continue fighting,” Zelensky said. “We have no choice but to continue fighting for our freedom.”
Zelensky’s remarks came shortly before the premiere of ‘Final Cut’, which ‘Variety’ describes as “a wacky zombie comedy that seems far removed from the brutality on display in Ukraine after Russia’s illegal invasion”.
Even as Cannes returned in glamorous form after two years of the pandemic, Zelensky’s “passionate rallying cry served as a reminder of the political turmoil still roiling the world,” ‘Variety’ noted.
Ukraine’s President spoke about the responsibility of cinema in promoting the values of democracy and freedom. “Hundreds of people are dying today,” Zelensky said to an audience that included Deepika Padukone and Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, both serving as jury members, as well as Hollywood stars Julianne Moore and Eva Langoria, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson.
“Is cinema going to stay quiet or is it going to stay out of it?” Zelensky asked rhetorically.
He said movies have always played a crucial role in uniting people against authoritarianism and cruelty, reminding the crowd of the power of Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’, a satire of Nazism that debuted before America had even entered World War II.
“The world needs a new Chaplin who will prove [to] us that cinema isn’t silent,” Zelensky said. “We need cinema to show that each time the ending will be on the side of freedom.”