European Film Academy Chairwoman Agnieszka Holland

Sentsov's supporters start petition calling for his release

CANNES — The board of the European Film Academy has called for the immediate release of Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov.

Sentsov, who has been involved in supporting the Euro Maidan protests in Kiev and has opposed the annexation of Crimea by Russia, was arrested at his home in Simferopol, Crimea, and accused of organizing a terrorist attack. It is believed that the director has been flown to Moscow where he is facing trial.

From Kiev, where EFA chairwoman Agnieszka Holland is attending the Ukraine “Thinking Together” conference, she stated: “We know that every time when artists start to be suppressed by a political regime, this regime becomes a dictatorship.”

The EFA board said: “In support of its friends and colleagues in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere in the world in their struggle for free artistic expression, the EFA board cannot tolerate it when people are persecuted for political reasons, and wishes to underline its firm belief in the free expression of opinion as an essential and basic value of any democratic society.”

In Cannes, Ukrainian producer and distributor Denis Ivanov, the former CEO of Odessa Film Festival, and a member of the National Union of Filmmakers of Ukraine, told Variety that Sentsov’s supporters have started a petition that will form the basis for a legal challenge to the filmmaker’s detention. It already has 10,506 signatures.

The petition can be found at this link.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more