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Zelensky opens Film Festival with passionate speech

2023 Feb 17, 8:32, Berlin
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (File Image)

The 2023 Berlin International Film Festival was opened by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as he asked artists and cultural institutions to "take a stand" and support his country in their fight against Russian aggression.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a USA-based entertainment news outlet, in a video address to the Berlinale audience on Thursday, Zelensky rhetorically asked, "Can art be outside politics, can cinema be outside politics [when] there is a policy of aggression...when there is total war? That is the politics of today's Russia."

"Culture chooses a side when it decides to speak out against evil... and it takes a side when it remains silent and in fact helps the evil," the Ukrainian President said.

Citing German director Wim Wenders and his 1987 classic 'Wings of Desire' as a project that "broke the Berlin Wall two years before its actual fall in the outstanding film that came in Berlin where the divided city is united by angels flying freely over the wall," Zelensky drew attention to the power cinema can have in times of political turmoil reported Deadline, another USA-based entertainment news outlet.

As per Deadline, the Ukrainian president noted that while the city of Berlin once had "a wall and life is booming and the heart of the Berlinale beats." He pointed out that the Potsdamer Platz, the hub of the Berlin festival, once "divided the free world and the totalitarian."

"It is not only about state borders on the map... The wall divided different world views and different philosophies... Today, Russia wants to build the same wall in Ukraine - the wall between us and Europe to separate Ukraine from its own choice and its own future, a wall between freedom and slavery," he continued.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, Zelensky has been tireless in his use of media events to attract attention to his country's cause and to drum up political and military support.

As per The Hollywood Reporter, the 2023 Berlin Film Festival invited the Ukrainian President to open this year's Berlinale with the live video message in a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and a show of defiance against Russia. When Zelensky was presented, the audience stood up and cheered him on throughout his speech. 


Berlin International Film Festival Film Festival Volodymyr Zelensky cultural institutions artists Ukrainian President Russian war politics entertainment deadline media events speech hollywood reporter
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