Ukrainian Filmmaker Fighting on Front Lines Calls for Russian Cinema Boycott

“My motherland is mercilessly shelled,” the “Rhino” director says. “I am standing in the trenches.”

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who has been fighting on the front lines of the war with Russia for the past week, is calling for to the international film community to boycott Russian cinema.

“For a week now, I have been standing in the trenches as a participant of the territorial defense of Kyiv, which is a part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he wrote in a statement (via Deadline). “Life has changed in an instant with the fall of the first bomb on the territory of Ukraine. Everything we knew about Hitler’s invasion has now become real again.”

Sentsov’s latest film “Rhino” was just released in Ukraine two weeks ago, his first movie after he had been imprisoned for five years in Russia in 2014 for fighting against Vladimir Putin’s regime and the annexation of Crimea. On Monday he posted a video (watch it above) of himself from the front lines and described some of the losses suffered by the Russian army — and Sentsov’s own determination that Ukraine would fight back and win. He reiterated that strength in his latest statement.

“Millions are suffering from being cold and lacking food. My country is being ruined, but our spirit is strong. We are going to fight until our victory,” he wrote.

Sentsov also encouraged others to sign an online petition started by the Ukraine Film Academy calling for the boycott of Russian cinema, including the co-production, distribution and film festival inclusion of Russian films.

The petition has garnered support not just from the public but also from the European Film Academy. But it’s also divided those who wish to support independent Russian filmmakers who are not connected to the government or the Kremlin, and festivals like Cannes and Venice have pledged to ban Russian delegates but not the films themselves.