Ukrainian Prez Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses attendees at Cannes opening night

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the crowd at the opening night of the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival.

Appearing remotely through video, he delivered an emotional plea on behalf of his war-torn country, reports ‘Variety’.

As per ‘Variety’, he said in the video, “We continue fighting. We have no choice but to continue fighting for our freedom. We will win in this war. Glory to Ukraine.” Zelenskyy’s remarks came shortly before the premiere of ‘Final Cut’, a wacky zombie comedy that seems far removed from the brutality on display in Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.

But even as Cannes returned in glamorous form after two years of a global pandemic, Zelenskyy’s passionate rallying cry served as a reminder of the political turmoil still roiling the world.

The war in Ukraine looms large over this year’s Cannes. Several films featured at the festival, such as ‘The Natural History of Destruction’, the latest documentary from Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa, are informed by the conflict.

Cannes will also screen the final movie from Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius, a Ukraine-set documentary that the director was shooting in the city of Mariupol when he was killed in early April.

‘Variety’ further states that Cannes has waded into the political situation in other ways, making no secret of its allegiance by banning Russians with ties to Putin’s government from the festival.

Zelenskyy argued that movies have always played a crucial role in uniting people against authoritarianism and cruelty, reminding the crowd of the power of Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’, a satire of Nazism that debuted before America had even entered World War II.

“The world needs a new Chaplin who will prove [to] us that cinema isn’t silent. We need cinema to show that each time the ending will be on the side of freedom,” the Ukrainian President concluded.

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