Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprising video speech at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday.
“Hundreds of people die every day. They won’t get up after the clap at the end,” he told the audience, who were surprised when the pre-recorded message was introduced.
“Will the film be silent, or will it speak out? If there is a dictator, if there is a war for freedom, again, it all depends on our unity. Can the movie stay outside this unity?” Added Zelensky.
Zelensky referred to the power of cinema during World War II, including the 1940 Charlie Chaplin film “The Great Dictator,” which mocked Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“The Chaplin dictator did not destroy the real dictator, but thanks to the cinema, thanks to this film, the cinema did not remain silent,” Zelensky said.
“We need another Chaplin to prove today that cinema is not stupid. Will cinema be silent, or will it speak out? Can cinema stay out of this?”
His speech received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Palais des Festivals in the southern French seaside resort.
The war is a dominant theme for the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, with a special day dedicated to Ukrainian filmmakers in the industrial market.
“Mariupolis 2,” a documentary about the conflict by Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius, who was allegedly killed by Russian troops in Ukraine last month, is getting a special screening.
Similarly, Zelensky addressed the Grammy Awards ceremony in Las Vegas last month, telling the audience, “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing for the wounded in hospitals.”
The opening ceremony in Cannes had presented the jury and presented an honorary Palm d’Or to actor and peace activist Forest Whitaker.
“The torments of the world, which bleed, suffer, burn… they pain my conscience,” said French actor and jury president Vincent Lindon in his speech.
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