That Cannes Film Festival was always political and never missed an opportunity to speak out on the affairs of the state. When Iran banned filmmaker Jafar Panahi from leaving his country, his work Three Faces, which premiered at the festival, was greeted with a standing ovation and symbolically an empty chair was placed on the stage. The message was loud and clear, and this year Cannes has underscored its acute displeasure at the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Also read: R. Madhavan’s Rocketry, which premieres during the Cannes Film Festival, is not part of the official list
After turning down Russian films, she refused accreditation for the country’s journalists. However, this comes with a tab. The denial is limited to those Russian publications that disagree with Cannes’ stance on the war. That means it’s not a blanket ban. It applies only to those who support Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.
Equally significant and interesting, the festival will feature a documentary by Lithuanian manta rays, Kvedaravičius. In April he was allegedly killed by Russian forces while filming in the city of Mariupol, which was facing a blunt Russian attack. His film Mariupolis 2 will be shown on May 19th.
A press release from the festival reads: “As we know, the Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius, who directed Barzakh (2011), Mariupolis (2016) and Parthenon (2019), was captured by the Russian army in Mariupol in early April and murdered. His fiancée Hanna Bilobrova, who was with him at the time, was able to bring back the footage shot there and edit it with Mantas editor Dounia Sichov. It was important to show, we added it.”
In 2016, manta rays documented the everyday lives of Ukrainians as war clouds began to gather over the small country. He returned to Mariupol in 2022 to capture the city while it was under a heavy siege.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry announced the filmmaker’s death on April 2, writing in a statement: “While (he) was trying to leave Mariupol, Russian occupiers killed Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius.” The director was 45 years old. A Lithuanian news agency called 15min reported that he was taken to hospital but could not be saved.
“We have lost a creator known in Lithuania and around the world who, despite all the dangers, worked in Russian-occupied Ukraine until the very last moment,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a statement.
A note at the beginning of Mariupols 2 reads: “You know what the most extraordinary thing about Mariupol is? None of its inhabitants feared death, even when it was still there. Death was already here and nobody wanted to die in vain. People supported each other at the risk of their lives. They smoked and talked outside, despite the bombs. There was no money left and life had become too short to remember it, so people were content with what they had and pushed themselves to the limit. There was no past or future, no judgment, no implication. It was heaven in hell, the butterfly’s delicate wings fluttering closer and closer together, the smell of death in its raw dimension. It was the heartbeat of life.”
The Cannes Film Festival takes place from May 17th to 28th.