(CNN) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared via video during opening night of the Cannes Film Festival in France, giving a speech about the importance of filmmaking in the midst of war.
“The most brutal dictators of the 20th century loved cinema,” Zelensky said, adding that most films made about those dictators were “horrific documentaries and newsreels.”
“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,” he continued. “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 [Charlie] Chaplin who will prove that, in our time, cinema is not silent.”
Volodymyr Zelenskyy is here by live video, and greeted by a long ovation.
He is talking about Chaplin in The Great Dictator, quoting Apocalypse Now and drawing parallels between fictional war and dictators and the one Ukraine faces. pic.twitter.com/A9IdFOLAnH
— Rebecca Keegan (@ThatRebecca) May 17, 2022
He was referencing Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” during the live call from Kyiv.
He continued: “It’s necessary for cinema not to be silent…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. I’m sure that the dictator will lose. We will win this war. Glory to Ukraine.”
Prior to entering politics, Zelensky was an actor and comedian.