Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday addressed the opening night crowd at the Cannes Film Festival via video.
“We continue fighting,” Zelenskyy said, according to Variety. “We have no choice but to continue fighting for our freedom.”
“I’m sure that the dictator will lose,” Zelenskyy said, in a pointed reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We will win in this war,” he added. “Glory to Ukraine.”
The war in Ukraine looms large over this year’s Cannes, noted Variety. 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 Kvedaravičius, a Ukraine-set documentary that the director was shooting in the city of Mariupol when he was killed in early April.
In his remarks, the Ukrainian President spoke about the responsibility of cinema in promoting values of democracy and freedom.
“Hundreds of people are dying today,” Zelenskyy said. “Is cinema going to stay quiet or is it going to stay out of it?”
He 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,” Zelenskyy said, according to Variety. “We need cinema to show that each time the ending will be on the side of freedom.”