Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky opened the Berlin Worldwide Movie Competition Thursday night time with a defiant name for for artists and cultural establishments to “take a stand” within the battle in Ukraine and to help his nation and his folks of their combat towards Russian aggression.
“Can artwork be exterior politics, can cinema be exterior politics [when] there’s a coverage of aggression…when there may be complete battle?” he requested, rhetorically, in a video handle to the Berlinale viewers. “That’s the politics of right this moment’s Russia.”
“Tradition chooses a aspect when it resolve to talk out towards evil,” the Ukrainian President stated, “and it takes a aspect when it stays silent and in reality helps the evil.”
Taking part in to his viewers of movie buffs, Zelensky selected a film metaphor to make his level: citing German director Wim Wenders and his 1987 basic Wings of Need, which, Zelensky stated, “broke the Berlin Wall two years earlier than it fell…displaying the divided metropolis united by angels flying freely over the wall.” Russia, stated Zelensky, right this moment needed to construct a wall “between Ukraine and Europe, between freedom and slavery [between] civilization and terror.”
Cinema, stated Zelensky, “can not change the world” however it might “encourage individuals who can change the world.”
In a present of solidarity with the Ukrainian folks, and a present of defiance towards Russia, the 2023 Berlin Movie Competition invited the Ukraine President to open this yr’s Berlinale with the reside video message. The viewers rose to their ft when Zelensky was launched and applauded his speech all through.
Sean Penn — who, with Aaron Kaufman, co-directed the documentary Superpower, a profile of Zelensky and his wartime management, premiering in Berlin later this week — launched Zelensky on stage forward of the video.
Penn famous that his plans for the documentary modified radically after Russia’s invasion. What was initially speculated to be a “whimsical story of a comic book actor turned president wrote itself into very totally different” after the Feb. 24, 2022 invasion. Penn, who has simply returned from Ukraine, stated the need of the Ukrainian folks to win the battle “if something it has simply gotten stronger.”
Along with movie celebrities readily available within the viewers — Berlinale jury president Kristen Stewart and the solid and crew of Rebecca Miller’s opening night time movie She Got here to Me, Anne Hathaway, Marisa Tomei and Peter Dinklage have been all in attendance —the Berlinale gala crowd additionally included a number of political figures. Nearly half the German cupboard was readily available, amongst them German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, Meals and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir, Household Minister Lisa Paus, and Tradition Minister Claudia Roth, in addition to the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey. Oleksiy Makeev, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany was additionally there, and raised his fist in deviance when the digital camera panned to him.
Explaining their resolution at hand over the pageant stage to the Ukrainian chief, The Berlinale, Berlinale co-directors Mariëtte Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian stated the pageant needed to “categorical solidarity with the folks of Ukraine of their combat for its independence and strongly condemn the Russian battle of aggression towards Ukraine. Our ideas and sympathy are with the victims, the struggling inhabitants, the thousands and thousands who left Ukraine and the artists which have remained defending the nation and proceed filming the battle.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February final yr, Zelensky has been tireless in his use of media occasions to draw consideration to his nation’s trigger and to drum up political and army help. Along with talking earlier than Congress, the U.Okay. Home of Parliament and Germany’s Bundestag, he has made quite a few video appearances at main movie festivals, together with Cannes and Venice final yr, and even despatched a video message to the Grammys.
Zelensky isn’t anticipated to attend Berlin in individual, although his spouse, Olena Zelenska, might fly in to attend the world premiere of Superpower on Friday night time.