Sirens blared, people’s faces were censored – but it’s not Ukraine. It’s the Cannes Film Festival.
Members of the production team of Ukrainian director Maksym Nakonechni’s “Butterly Vision” protested the ongoing war in Ukraine on the red carpet on Wednesday.
In front of the Salle Debussy, the second largest theater in Cannes, the team – including producers Darya Bassel and Yelizaveta Smit and actress Rita Burkovska – held a banner that read: “Russians are killing Ukrainians. Do you find it offensive or disturbing to talk about this genocide?”
The sirens, which could be heard on the red carpet stairs, were intended to symbolize airstrikes in Ukraine, while protesters held signs reading “sensitive content” over their faces.
Not only did they demonstrate the ongoing devastation in Ukraine, but they also attempted to show the extent of Russian censorship.
The movie Butterfly Vision pursues a similar idea, albeit in a fictional world. Set before the current war, the film describes the journey of a female soldier escaping Russia and returning to Ukraine after being held as a prisoner of war.
However, this is not the first political statement to be seen at the film festival. On May 20, an unnamed woman stripped naked on the red carpet to protest numerous allegations of assaults on Ukrainian women by Russian soldiers.
Her body took on the colors the Ukrainian flag with the words “Stop Raping Us” written in paint on her stomach, but she was quickly covered by a jacket when security forces carried her away ahead of the premiere of George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing.”
Then, at the screening of Ali Abbasis’s “Holy Spider” on May 22nd, Women of the Les Colleuses feminist movement made its own political statement. They used smoking devices to create a spectacle when they released a banner listing the names of 129 women who had been victims of domestic violence since the previous film festival in France.
The high-profile demonstrations come after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy opened the film festival last week, drawing similarities between fictional war films and the ongoing crisis in his country.