Ukraine’s cinema union has issued an open letter urging participants at the Cannes Film Market to cease all business dealings with Russia. The letter, written by the Ukrainian League of Cinemas, argues that releasing films in Russia is tantamount to supporting terrorism due to Russia’s ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine. The letter specifically mentions prominent international indie distributors and sales agents like Lionsgate, STXInternational, FilmNation, A24, and Pathé, whose films have been released in Russia since the conflict began. It emphasizes that doing business in Russia means indirectly funding the destruction of Ukrainian cities and the loss of lives. The letter calls on filmmakers and distributors to reconsider their relationships with Russian counterparts and refrain from supporting terrorist organizations and undermining global security.
Despite major Hollywood studios pulling their releases from Russian theaters following the Ukraine invasion, over 140 U.S. films were still released in the country last year, according to Russia’s Cinema Fund. Some international films, such as “John Wick: Chapter 4” from Lionsgate and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” from A24, have continued to perform well at the Russian box office. The contracts for many of these films were signed before the conflict began, while others make their way to Russian cinemas through convoluted routes involving subsidiaries of Russian distribution companies based elsewhere or third-party distributors. While such arrangements may be legal if no sanctioned entities are involved, there are concerns that they enable foreign companies to profit from the Russian market while evading scrutiny.
The open letter highlights the financial allure of continuing to trade with Russia but stresses the ethical considerations at play. It points out that the war in Ukraine has entered its second year, and the recent deadly missile attacks on Kyiv serve as a reminder of the dire situation. The cinema union reminds Cannes Market participants that both the European Parliament and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly designated Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, suggesting that selling films in Russia could be seen as supporting terrorism. The union appeals to film producers, companies, and world sales agents to sever ties with Russian film companies until the end of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the establishment of a just peace.