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Ukraine urges EU to cancel European film festival in Russia

by Elsa Court October 31, 2023 4:47 PM 2 min read
The European Union flag is seen next to the building of the Delegation of the European Union in Russia on Feb. 23, 2023. (Photo by Vlad Karkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's artists and state agencies reacted with dismay that the delegation of the European Union to Russia has organized a festival of European film this year, after canceling last year's edition due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  

The festival is set to be held online between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15 under the slogan of "Cinema Unites," according to the website.

The program features over 20 films ranging from 2016 to 2022 from across the continent, as well as a few co-productions between Russia and EU countries.

"It is important to continue an effective sanctions policy not only in the economic sphere, but also in culture, in particular in cinema," Ukraine's Culture Ministry said in a statement on Oct. 28.

"The resumption of cultural dialogue" after 612 days of war, which has destroyed over 1,700 cultural sites in Ukraine, "is unacceptable."

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On the festival's website, the EU's Ambassador to Russia Roland Galharague was quoted saying that "Russian culture is part of the European cultural heritage."

"In these difficult times, when we are separated by circumstances and physical boundaries, cinema continues to overcome any obstacles," Galharague said.

"Russian history and art have long fascinated and inspired the world," and Russian cinema has touched "the hearts and minds of people from all over the world," according to Galharague.

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Ukraine's State Film Agency also pointed to the ongoing destruction of Ukrainian cultural sites.

"It is unfair to say that art is outside of politics, while Russian missiles destroy Ukrainian theaters, cinemas, and museums," Ukraine's State Film Agency said in its statement on Oct. 28.

A full cultural boycott is an "important step in the direction of victory," the agency said.

The Ukrainian Institute similarly reacted that "the entire European community should be united and consistent," and cancel the event.

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