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Ukraine protests over Russian film screening at Czech film festival

Several leading Ukrainian filmmakers and Ukraine’s ambassador to Prague protested over the scheduled screening of Captain Volkonogov Escaped (PA)
Several leading Ukrainian filmmakers and Ukraine’s ambassador to Prague protested over the scheduled screening of Captain Volkonogov Escaped (PA)

An international film festival in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary opened on Friday amid controversy, following a protest by Ukraine over the screening of a Russian film alongside Ukrainian-made movies.

Before the start of the 56th edition of the festival, several leading Ukrainian filmmakers and Ukraine’s ambassador to Prague protested over the scheduled screening of Captain Volkonogov Escaped.

Ukrainian ambassador Yevhen Perebyinis said in an open letter that it would be “inhuman” to screen Ukrainian films alongside a Russian movie made with support from Russia’s culture ministry at a time when Russian troops had “committed atrocities” during their invasion of his country.

Organisers said they consider the Russian movie, whose world premiere was at last year’s Venice Film Festival, as being indirectly critical of the current Russian leadership.

Czech Film Festival
Australian actor Geoffrey Rush will be honoured at the festival (Michael Sohn/AP)

Four Ukrainian films and eight other nearly-completed movies produced or co-produced by Ukraine will also be screened at the festival.

After being cancelled in 2020 and delayed in 2021 due to the pandemic, this year’s festival will culminate in a ceremony to honour Australian Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush for his contribution to world cinema.

Rush won an Academy Award for actor in a leading role in Shine in 1997. The festival will also screen his movies The King’s Speech and Quills.

Organisers will also honour US Oscar-winning actor and producer Benicio Del Toro and Czech actor Bolek Polivka.

The festival runs until July 9. The jury will consider 12 movies for the top prize, the Crystal Globe.