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Cannes Confronts Political Turmoil, From Putin’s War to Donald Trump’s Shadow


Cannes Film Festival deals with the war in Ukraine, political turmoil, and Trump in the movies playing in competition.
The Cannes Film Festival is best-known for its lavish parties and stunning red carpets, but the celebration of cinema has also often been colored by political concerns. This year, promises to be an unusually turbulent one. After all, filmmakers, studio executives and movie lovers are assembling in the South of France as the specter of war in Ukraine and rising autocracies around the world threaten to overshadow the good times. Indeed, the loudest applause on Cannes’ opening night were reserved for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who made a special appearance via video link in which he invoked Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator,” a satire of Nazism, to remind the audience of the powerful role movies can play.
“Hundreds of people die every day,” Zelensky said. “Will cinema stay silent, or will it talk about it? If there is a dictator, if there is a war for freedom, again, it all depends on our unity. Can cinema stay out of this unity? We need a new [Charlie] Chaplin who will prove that, in our time, cinema is not silent.”
Many filmmakers are not remaining mute about the suffering and oppression taking place around the world. The fraught political moment is reflected in some of the films being showcased at the festival, as artists grapple with the aftermath of Russia’s brutal invasion. That’s the case with “The Natural History of Destruction,” the latest documentary from Sergei Loznitsa, the Ukrainian filmmaker who quit the European Film Academy, claiming it was tepid in its condemnation of Russian atrocities. The festival 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.

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