Karlovy Vary Defends Decision To Invite Russian Film To 2022 Edition

The Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has defended its decision to invite a Russian film to its 56th edition, in spite of promises that it would not welcome Russia state-backed films due to the war in Ukraine.

Russian directors Natasha Merlulova and Aleksey Chupov’s drama Captain Volkonogov Escaped is due to play in the Horizons sidebar.

A number of Ukrainian directors who have also been invited to show their films at the festival published an open letter protesting the move on Tuesday.

“We understand your arguments, however, we strictly refuse your interpretation that the screening of this film, which was in the past supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, distracts the international community from the war crimes committed in Ukraine,” said the festival’s president Jiří Bartoška, executive director Kryštof Mucha and artistic director Karel Och in an official statement.

“On the contrary, we believe that by screening the film, we can generate a public discussion which will draw attention to the overlap of the film’s main theme with current events.

They referred to Captain Volkonogov Escaped as “one of the most remarkable films” of last year’s Venice festival where it world premiered in Competition.

“Although the film is set in 1938, quite obvious parallels with the current situation can be found in its story. We believe that the film provides a fitting description of how the manipulative actions of a despotic leader can influence the mindset of the majority of the society, purposefully create enemies of the regime in the name of ideology and ruthlessly annihilate them, and how such actions ultimately lead to a national tragedy,” they said.

“In this sense, we see the film Captain Volkonogov Escaped as an indirect, but very distinct criticism of the current Russian state regime.”

The festival also emphasized the fact it had invited a large Ukrainian delegation this year and also offered to host the Works in Progress line-up of the Odesa International Film Festival.

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