Total Pageviews

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Russian Film Figures Reply to their Ukrainian Colleagues

This is a post which relates to the previous post relating to the appeal by people from the Ukrainian film world to their Russian colleagues. As well as a number of individual replies from people such as film director Pavel Bardin who wrote as an 'official statement' on his Facebook page

"Dear Ukranian colleagues!
I am ashamed of the lies and propaganda of the Russian pro-state media, ashamed of those soldiers denying their citizenship (this is a reference to Russian soldiers in Crimea who don't even admit their own nationality to keep up the lie that Russian hasn't sent troops there), ashamed of their leaders disowning their own soldiers, ashamed of those fellow citizens and colleagues who support this war.
I am with you: for peace, for truth and for love! "

After this initial response more members of the Russian film world decided to write a collective reply to the Ukrainian appeal. So far it contains 120 names and among them figure the most important directors and scholars in the film world. Feature film directors such as Andrei Proshkin, Andrei Smirnov, Boris Khlebnikov, Alexei Popogrebsky, Vladimir Kott, Alexander Zeldovich, Vladimir Mirzoev and Andrei Stempkovsky as well as Pavel Bardin himself are amongst the signatories; in the documentary world directors such as Vitaly Mansky, Marina Razbezhkina, Alexander Rastorguev, Elena Demidova have signed as well as the festival selector Victoria Belopolskaya. Gary Bardin the well known animation film-maker and father of Pavel Bardin. Pavel Kostomarov perhaps Russia's leading cameraman also signed. The film critics and film scholars are also very well represented. Here signatories include Andrei Plakhov, Evgeny Margolit, Elena Stishova, Anton Dolin, Nina Tsirkun, Zara Abdullaeva, Andrey Shemyakin, Yuri Gladilshchikov, Elena Plakhova, Yuri Bogolmolov and Pyotr Bagrov. Other significant names include the script writer Pavel Finn and actress Yulia Aug.

Here is the text of the letter signed by the names above and by many others:

Dear friends and colleagues!

It is with great pain that we have read your letter and listened to your video address. You are justly bringing to our attention the unprecedented anti-Ukrainian campaign launched by the Russian mass media, and of the mass people’s uprising against the infamous Yanukovich regime.
We share your contempt as to the lies and distorted coverage of the momentous events in the Ukraine, and all the more so we are against Russian military intervention in the Ukraine. There are so many ties that bind us, so that we cannot fall to the botched propaganda. Therefore our answer is laconic and straightforward: Don’t doubt us. We side with the truth, and we are with you! 

The text and full list of names in Russian can be found in this link:


  1. You know, this is all looking very strange to me. I live in Canada, and I am experiencing first-hand how one-sided and hypocritical much of our news coverage of the Ukrainian situation is. Of how our politicians give reasons for their actions that seem like blatant lies (with opposite rationales being used to bolster their positions, depending on which side of the issue Russia is). I've been following a few blogs such as "Vineyard of the Saker" and "ClubOrlov", not because I always agree with what they say, but because they provide an alternative to the overwhelmingly one-sided narrative of the mainstream news coverage. And yet, reading this, it seems like a big part of the intelligentsia in Russia has a mirror-image reaction. They feel that the Western side of the story is not getting through to them, just as strongly as I feel smothered by it here.

    Maybe we're both wrong and the truth is somewhere in the middle? One of the problems with this event is that there are NO neutral observers, and very, very few neutral individual reports. Perhaps the best that one can do is assume that the worst accusations that both sides trade about each other are ALL correct.

    1. yes, I think in many ways we all react to the situation we find ourselves in and the kind of dominant information (or perspectives). The story has moved on from here. This has since been another letter with even more signatures supporting Putin's stance (although the letter was signed by people from different artistic spheres). There have also been many who have signed neither letter but who have expressed their own individual relation to this. I think here Russian colleagues wanted to reply quickly to their Ukrainian colleagues in a spirit of solidarity . This situation feels tragic in so many ways - there are so many links between the Russian and Ukrainian film worlds that this conflict feels so destructive. I think that this side of the story doesn't get across- that it is a conflict capable of undoing so much that has been created. The same was true, I think, in 2008 over the short war in Georgia. It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to be neutral in this just as it is extremely difficult to know how to find accurate accounts of what is happening. I have been planning to write a longer piece on the different reactions of Russian cultural figures to this situation. There have been so many further stories and reactions- an interview with Kira Muratova, the interview with Yarmolnik on Dozhd (which shocked many because he didn't support the liberal intelligentsia's line on this conflict), then there have been (Polish and Latvian) actors calling off their appearance in Russia as a statement of their opposition to the annexation (or re-taking- or however one wants to call it) of Crimea. Others, though, have confirmed their appearance - for example, the Latvian National Theatre. Some counter-cultural figures (strongly anti-Putin) support even more 'imperialist' policies whereas others are fiercely against the war.The polemics and arguments don't seem as though they are going to die down. I'll try to write about all this in some longer article elsewhere if I can find the time and energy to write about it and a forum willing to print such a piece. There have been some interesting perspectives (not necessarily in the film world but from some intellectuals) that while taking a position have some very interesting things to say. Unfortunately living in interesting times goes together with living in very inhumane ones, too. And it is difficult not to feel depressed by so many things.