Heads of Cannes, Berlin, Toronto Film Fests Petition for Support of Ukrainian Colleagues

Stuart Farmer
Guerilla cinema in Kiev's streets during Ukraine's revolution.

Cannes boss Thierry Fremaux and other top festival figures have joined a call for moral and financial aid to Ukrainian industry professionals in "the toughest year of their careers."

MOSCOW -- A growing number of international film festival heads are joining an online petition to show support for Ukrainian industry colleagues as tensions grow in the biggest confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

The campaign calls for expressions of solidarity with those who run film festivals in Ukraine, noting that, "2014 will most probably be the toughest year in their careers." 

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Berlin, Cannes, Edinburgh, Locarno, Moscow, New York, Palm Springs, Rotterdam, San Sebastian, Seattle, Telluride, Toronto, Tribeca and Venice were among an expanding group of more than 70 festival programmers and directors supporting the plea for "international action of solidarity." The document circulating on social media urges film fests to show support for Ukrainian festivals by waiving fees and paying for their own travel when attending Ukrainian film events.

Berlinale forum head Christoph Terhechte, Cannes' topper Thierry Fremaux and festival market chief Jerome Pallaird, are among the signatories, along with the artistic director of the Venice Film Festival, co-founder of Telluride, Tom Luddy, Toronto's head, Piers Handling, his artistic director, Cameron Bailey, and Frederic Boyer, artistic director of Tribeca.

The petition asks "all members of the international film community to show their help and generosity."

"Directors, producers and sales agents: please give your films willingly and for free to all film festivals in Ukraine, no screenings fees from Ukrainian festivals this year," it reads. "Film institutes: Please support travel of your filmmakers and send prints at your expense."

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Also represented are the Busan fest's director, Lee Yong-kwan, Joao Ferreira and Ana David, joint directors of Lisbon's Queer Lisboa International Queer Film Festival, Sara Norberg, executive director of Helsinki's Love & Anarchy Film Festival, and programmers Kirill Razlogov and Andrei Plakhov of Moscow's International Film Festival.

Among those listed as needing support, the document names: Julia Sinkevych, executive director of the Odessa IFF; Andriy Khalpakhchi, general director of Kiev IFF; Irina Kalichnaya, general director of Krok International Animated FF; Gennadiy Kofman, program director, DOCUDAYS, UA International Human Rights Documentary FF; Victoria Yamoshchuk, director, Kiev Media Week; and "colleagues from all other film festivals in Ukraine."

The document ends with a plea to "disseminate this message by any means available."