Cannes Film Festival bars Russian journos, to screen documentary on Russia-Ukraine war by slain Lithuanian director

The Cannes Film Festival has always been political and has never lost the opportunity to make a statement on state affairs. When Iran banned filmmaker Jafar Panahi from leaving his country, his work Three Faces, which premiered at the festival, was welcomed with standing ovations and an empty chair was symbolically placed on stage. The message was loud and clear, and this year Cannes has emphasized its acute dissatisfaction with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Also read: R Madhavan’s Rocketry premieres in Cannes during the film festival, is not part of the official list

After saying no to Russian films, it declined accreditation to the country’s journalists. However, this comes with a rider. The denial is limited to the Russian publications that do not see Cannes’ position in the war face to face. This means that it is not a general ban. It will only apply to those who support Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.

Equally significant and interesting is the festival showing a documentary by Lithuania’s Mantas Kvedaravičius. In April, he is said to have been killed by Russian forces when he was filming in the city of Mariupol, which has been facing the blunt Russian attack. His film, Mariupolis 2, will be shown on May 19.

A press release from the festival noted: “As we know, Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius, who directed Barzakh (2011), Mariupolis (2016) and Parthenon (2019), was captured and murdered by the Russian army in Mariupol in early April. His fiancée “Hanna Bilobrova, who was with him then, was able to take back the material that was filmed there and edited it with Manta’s editor Dounia Sichov. It was important to show it, we added it.”

In 2016, Mantas documented the everyday life of Ukrainians when clouds of war began to gather over the small country. He returned to Mariupol in 2022 to take the city when it was under criminal siege.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense announced the death of the filmmaker on April 2, writing in a statement: “While (he was trying) to leave Mariupol, Russian occupiers killed the Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius.” The director was 45. A Lithuanian news agency, called 15min, reported that he was taken to a hospital, but that he could not be rescued.

“We lost a creator who is well-known in Lithuania and around the world, who at the last moment, despite danger, worked in Russia-occupied Ukraine,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a statement.

A note at the beginning of Mariupolis 2 reads: “Do you know what is most extraordinary about Mariupol? None of its inhabitants feared death, not even when it was there. Death was already present and no one wanted to die without results. People supported each other with danger for their lives.They smoked and chatted outside, despite the bombs.There was no money left and life had become too short to remember, so people were happy with what they had and stretched their limits.There was no past or “future, nothing to judge, nothing to suggest anything. It was heaven in hell, the butterfly’s delicate wings fluttered closer and closer to each other, the scent of death in its raw dimension. It was the heartbeat of life.”

The Cannes Film Festival takes place between 17 and 28 May.

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