The 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival officially kicked off this evening with an emotional opening ceremony that reached a pinnacle as Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky appeared via video to address the Palais audience live from Kyiv.
During his speech, Zelensky evoked Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and the role that film had in denouncing Hitler during World War II; the 1940 picture “didn’t destroy the real dictator, but thanks to this film, cinema was not silent.”
The Ukraine president continued, “On February 24, Russia began a war of huge proportion against Ukraine with the intention of going further into Europe… Hundreds of people die every day. They are not going to get up after the end clap… 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 Chaplin who will prove that, in our time, cinema is not silent.”
He added, “I say to everyone who hears me: do not despair; hatred will eventually disappear and dictators will die. We have to win this victory and we need cinema to ensure that this end is always on the side of freedom.”