The Ukrainian Film Academy, the national group representing the country’s film professionals, has called for an international boycott of Russian cinema and the Russian film industry following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine earlier this week.
In an online petition, the Academy called on producers to stop licensing their films and series for Russia, on international festivals to ban Russian films from their programming and on international producers to end all relations trade with Russian companies.
In a statement, the group said that while governments around the world have condemned the Russian invasion and introduced sanctions to punish the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the country continues to benefit from cultural activity.
“Several Russian-made films are regularly admitted to the programs of most world film festivals, and significant resources are devoted to their promotion,” the petition states. “The result of this activity is not just the dissemination of propaganda messages and distorted facts. It also reinforces the loyalty of Russian culture – the culture of the aggressor state, which has unleashed an unjustified and unprovoked war in Central Europe.
Specifically, the Ukrainian Academy calls on producers and licensees, including Hollywood studios, to “terminate all activity with commercial entities of the Russian Federation and not transfer intellectual property rights from any film on the territory of the Russian Federation”, which means preventing the release of films and series in the country.
“We urge you to terminate all contracts with them,” the petition reads. “Remember that the company that will use your films pays taxes to the Russian budget, which finances the army that violated the borders of an independent state and buys missiles to bombard the civilian population of Europe.”
The letter also asks the Council of Europe to expel Russia from the pan-European film funding body Eurimages, the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production and the International Federation of Film Producers Associations to withdraw the International Festival of Moscow film its accreditation.
The call follows an impassioned plea from some of Ukraine’s most prominent filmmakers for the international industry to stand in solidarity with their country during this crisis.
“Putin does not dwell on Ukraine. It is a full-scale war. This is a challenge to the entire democratic world,” wrote director Oleg Sentsov (Rhinoceros), “We are not only defending our land, we are resisting impending tyranny. The time for worries is over. It’s time to fight for freedom and truth.
“Every minute of delay in making influential decisions takes away the lives of Ukrainians now and every life outside of Ukraine in the future,” noted Maryna Er Gorbach, director of the Sundance winner. Klondike. “Global security is in the hands of the Ukrainian military. Be brave and determined, support the demands of Ukrainian politicians. Do it for the future of your own children!
Western governments, including the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada, have announced sweeping economic sanctions, including one against President Putin himself and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov . There have also been calls to kick Russia out of the global Swift banking system, a move that would make it much harder for Russian companies to do business with the rest of the world.
There have also been cultural sanctions, with the European Broadcasting Union on Friday banning Russia from participating in its hugely popular Eurovision Song Contest following the invasion of Ukraine, the European football body , UEFA, moving the Champions League final match from St. Petersburg to Paris. in protest, and racing body Formula One canceling a planned race in Russia in September.