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Zelensky eloquent at Cannes

By Alex Deleon

       

Volodymyr Zelensky, embattled Ukrainian President, addressing opening night Cannes audience from a huge video screen in the cavernous Lumière Theatre.

Zelensky, dressed in his signature brown battle shirt,  drew a thunderous standing ovation and spoke at length about the connection between cinema and reality. He referenced films like Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” as not unlike Ukraine’s present circumstances.

Zelensky quoted Chaplin’s final speech in “The Great Dictator,” which was released in 1940, in the early days of World War II: “The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people.”

The Chaplin film was a biting satire of German dictator Adolph Hitler. The parallels with Putin did not have to be spelled out and left no doubt as to what he thinks of the  Russian dictator currently sitting in the Kremlin,

Oddly enough, Putin's initial goal of Retime Change and the deposing of  President Zelensky has backfired Bigtime ,right in his face.    In effect Putin has  paradoxically helped make Zelensky into an international celebrity while Zelensky with a strong background as a popular TV comedian,  has been able to make the most of his extensive  media exposure -- now as a sympathetic tragedian,  “We need a new Chaplin who will demonstrate that the cinema of our time is not silent,”  Zelensky. Proclaimed.

The Ukrainian president pushed filmmakers not to “stay silent” while hundreds continue to die in Ukraine, the largest war in Europe since WWII, and show that cinema “is always on the side of freedom.”

The war is to be a regular presence this year in Cannes, where the festival has barred Russians with ties to the government from attending. Set to screen are several films from prominent Ukrainian filmmakers, including Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary “The Natural History of Destruction.” Footage shot by Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius before he was killed in Mariupol in April will also be shown by his fiancée, Hanna Bilobrova.

After last year requiring regular COVID-19 testing and masks in theaters — and no kisses on the red carpet — Cannes has largely done away with pandemic protocols. Masks are recommended inside but are rarely worn.

Photo Alan Schoenauer

 

 

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