Press in Cannes Under high political tension

(Kan) Exactly at the moment when the documentary after the death was shown at the world premiere on Thursday Mariupolis 2 of filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius, killed a few weeks ago by the Russian army, Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov appeared at a press conference, in a room near the Palais des Festivals, to talk about his film. Tchaikovsky’s wife.

Posted at 5:49 pm.

Marc Cassivi

Marc Cassivi

“Everything that is Russian must be hidden,” Ukrainian filmmaker Andrew Fesiak told Agence France-Presse following a conference on “Russian propaganda” in the US pavilion. The film market. “Serebrennikov should have made the decision himself not to take part in the Cannes Film Festival,” said Andriy Khalpakhchi, director of the Kiev International Film Festival.

This shows how Kana was under high political tension on Thursday. Kirill Serebrennikov, who denounced the invasion of Ukraine after climbing the stairs, very cautiously, of the official screening of his film the day before, is the only Russian director selected at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

His case is special. He was under house arrest in Moscow since 2018 for his support of the LGBTQ + movement, which prevented him from accompanying his two previous films, selected in competition, to Cannes. Shortly before the war, he was given a suspended sentence and preferred to go into exile in Berlin at the beginning of the war.

On the other hand, his latest film was partly funded by a private foundation which belongs to the oligarch Roman Abramovich, a close celebrity of Vladimir Putin. Which makes him suspicious in the eyes of a part of the Ukrainian cinema industry.

Dressed in a slightly smoky cap and goggles, Serebrennikov had to answer, surprisingly, more questions about the war than about his film, which deals with the short-fronted marriage between Tchaikovsky, who was gay, and Antonina Miliukova.

“Whether we like it or not, voluntarily or unintentionally, we are connected to these events”, said the director of theater and cinema. As Adorno said, can we write poetry after Auschwitz? »

“Make a part of it”

Some were already outraged that Kirill Serebrennikov, one of the most prominent Russian artists of the time, had been hosted in Cannes, unlike Ukrainians Sergei Loznitsa and Maksim Nakonechnyi, whose films have been featured in other sections. In particular, the Ukrainian Film Academy demanded a direct boycott of Tchaikovsky’s wife.

“I fully understand the people who want this boycott. “For them, it is extremely painful and absolutely unbearable,” notes Kirill Serebrennikov. “But I can not accept the call for a boycott of culture based only on nationality, which has been done in the past. »

Culture is air, it is water, it is clouds. I think we should avoid boycotting Dostoevsky, Chekhov and a Tchaikovsky fortress. We should not deprive people of culture, of music, of theater, of cinema. This is what makes them alive.

Kirill Serebrennikov

The general delegate of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Frémaux, also earlier this week said he understood the point of view of those under bombardment on a daily basis. “We have to try to differentiate between Russians who risk resisting the official word. “We try our best to try to be fair,” he said on Monday, recalling that the festival had banned any official Russian delegation from Cana, but not its dissident artists.

“Serebrennikov is not an opponent at all,” said Andrew Fesiak. His entire career was funded by Russian government money. While the Russian artist admitted on Thursday that he had received subsidies from the state for some of his old works (before 2014), he explained that at that time “he was not ashamed to have the logo of the Ministry of Culture”.

The director also defended Roman Abramovich, the late owner of English football club Chelsea. “He has been a defender for a long time and his foundation has funded many films by authors in Russia. Like President Zelensky, I want the sanctions against him lifted. He could be the mediator for future talks between Ukrainians and Russians. »

However, Serebrennikov in no way defended the occupation of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin. “Russian culture has always promoted human values, human fragility, compassion for the souls of people, for small people. Culture has always been against war. Because war wants to destroy what I just said. word culture and the word war are antagonists. »

During the press conference of Tchaikovsky’s wifeThe festival introduced a film he added to his program at the last minute: Mariupolis 2 of the Lithuanian documentary Mantas Kvedaravicius, killed less than two months ago by the Russian army, at just 45 years old.


Manufacturer of Mariupolis 2 Nadia Turincev, co-director Hanna Bilobrova and editor Dounia Sichov

Kvedaravicius’s film, which depicts the daily life under bombs in Mariupol of the inhabitants of this besieged city, was completed by his Ukrainian companion Hanna Bilobrova and his editor Dounia Sichov. The director and anthropologist had returned to Mariupol at the beginning of the occupation in February to find people who had participated in his first documentary on the city, during the Donbas war, in 2014.

Kirill Serebrennikov, who is 52, is due to attend the Avignon Festival in July. Black monk by Chekhov, before finishing the shooting of his next film, an adaptation of Emmanuel Carrère’s novel, Limonovfor a Russian character as fascinating as well as controversial.

“If it were not for this war, we would all be much better off, and I first, because we would all be more careless,” he replied to a journalist of Ukrainian origin, who asked him if he was happy to finally meet him in person at the Cannes Film Festival. The fact that there are bombs falling on cities makes me not completely happy to be here. »

Turning on the TV in my hotel room Thursday evening, I come across a lengthy report from the Russian government-owned news channel Rossiya 24 on Tchaikovsky’s wife. There was talk of film reviews in American trade magazines variety AND HollywoodReporter, three experts were interviewed (I can not tell you more; my Russian was a bit rusty), but no sound excerpt from Kirill Serebrennikov’s press conference was broadcast. Naturally.

I wonder what the reaction of the Russian authorities would be if the deed of an exiled dissident won the Golden Palm this year. And I dare not imagine the noise in Ukraine…

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