Russian filmmakers

Source: A.Savin, WikiCommons / James Gourley/Shutterstock / Phenomen Film

L-R: Vitaly Mansky, Chulpan Khamatova, Ilya Khrzhanovskiy

The number of voices within the Russian film community actively speaking out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine is growing daily, as filmmakers Vitaly Mansky, Vladimir Mirzoev and Ilya Khrzhanovskiy and actresses Chulpan Khamatova and Ksenija Rappoport join the call to end the war

Mansky and Khamatova are signatories along with other filmmakers including Ivan Vyrypaev (Euphoria), Tofig Shahverdiev (Our Whole Life Is A Crime), and Andrey Smirnov (A Frenchman), as well as film critic Anton Dolin to an online appeal published by journalist and author Mikhail Zygar who wrote the 2015 best selling book All The Kremlin’s Men about Vladimir Putin’s ascent to power.

The appeal called the Russian invasion of Ukraine “a disgrace”, and said “we do not want our children to live in an aggressor country, to be ashamed of the fact that their army attacked a neighbouring independent state. We call on all citizens of Russia to say ‘No’ to this war.”

Moreover, they refuted the claim that an independent Ukraine posed a threat to Russia or any other state: “We do not believe Vladimir Putin’s statements that the Ukrainian people are under the rule of ‘Nazis’ and need to be ‘liberated’.

This is in addition to the ‘No The War’ declaration organised by Russia’s KinoSoyuz on February 25. 

Close ties 

Mansky was born in the Ukrainian city of Lviv in 1963 when it was part of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. He examined the historical ties between Ukraine and Russia in his award-winning 2016 film Close Relations. The founder of the Artdocfest has been based in the Latvian capital of Riga since 2014. 

Khamatova, who became known to a wider international audience for her role in Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye, Lenin!, also put her name to another petition by the leaders of Russian NGOs and charitable foundations in her role as the co-founder of the Gift of Life Foundation. It helps children, teenagers and young adults up to 25 suffering from various forms of cancer, blood disorders or other life-threatening diseases.

This second appeal has so far attracted almost 500 signatures, including that of actress Ksenija Rappoport, known for her roles in Kirill Serebrennikov’s Yury’s Day and the romantic comedy Two Days, who is also a trustee of the Children of the Butterflies Foundation for children with extremely fragile skin.

This weekend also saw film and theatre director Vladimir Mirzoev, write a lengthy op-ed “monologue” for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta about the role of the nation’s intellectuals following Russia’s invasion of its neighbour Ukraine last Thursday. Mirzoev, who is set to direct an eight-part contemporary retelling of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment, for the Russian Start SoD platform, declared: “An intellectual today in Russia cannot afford to be silent. He could maybe do this until today, but not any more. The tactic of compromise is impossible today, the tactic of silencing the situation is impossible.”

“The role of the intellectual is to dispel the darkness, to educate people who, even with the Internet, cannot reach the truthful information,” he wrote. “I know that compromise for an artist is destructive. I know that if you close your eyes to reality and allow yourself or yourself to be fooled, you cannot remain an honest artist, you simply lose your gift, you destroy it.”

According to Mirzoev, “what is happening is a crime not only against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, but also against Russia and the people of Russia. The consequences of this aggression will be monstrous for all of us. In one morning we found ourselves in the position of a pariah who brought great misfortune to the world.”

And in a damning characterisation of the Russian president Vladimir Putin, he argued,“[Putin] does not understand people’s feelings at all. He is unable to step out of his imaginary world and into the real world, where there is grief of people, where there are dead, wounded, where there is emotion, feelings, understanding of real history. He is wholly absorbed in his mission, he is in his imaginary world, he believes he is entirely right, and from within that rectitude he generates evil.”

Novaya Gazeta has been dedicated to the critical and investigative coverage of Russian political and social affairs since being founded in 1993. Its editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 along with the Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

The paper’s best- known journalist is Anna Politkovskaya who was shot dead on October 7, 2006, one of six Novaya Gazeta staffers and contributors to be killed in connection with their work since the beginning of the 2000s.