A Ukrainian director denounces the Russian presence in Cannes

Ukrainian director Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk has slammed the Cannes Film Festival for including a Russian director in its lineup, as the debut filmmaker’s “Pamfir” screened at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight on Saturday.

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The festival has banned official Russian delegations from attending, but Russian dissident Kirill Serebrennikov, who has spoken out against invading Ukraine, presented his competition film “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” at the festival on Wednesday.

“When he’s here, he’s part of Russian propaganda and they can use him,” Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk told Reuters on Saturday.

Russian director Serebrennikov said earlier this week that Russian culture should not be boycotted, saying Russian culture “has always promoted human values”.

Ukrainian director Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk has described the feeling of being in Cannes as his country battles against a Russian invasion as “foreign”.

“Everything that happened here is something that does not belong to Ukraine – the peaceful life… We have (an) opposite reality,” he said.

Set in the forests of the Chernivtsi region in western Ukraine, “Pamfir” begins with the return of a father, Leonid, to his family after months of work in Poland.

A church fire attributed to Leonid’s son, Nazar, forces the father to undertake a quick smuggling job, angering the local smuggling boss.

With references to Greek tragedy and the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, the story of the struggle for redemption resonates with the ongoing conflict.

“(The film) is a reflection of the strength and power of the Ukrainian people, who are very strong and who are going to win. It’s just a matter of time…because we can’t be defeated,” said Oleksandr Yatsentyuk, who plays Leonid.

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