×

European Filmmakers Call on Putin to Release Ukrainian Filmmaker Oleg Sentsov

SARAJEVO, Bosnia — A group of prominent European filmmakers, including Wim Wenders, Stephen Daldry, Agnieszka Holland and Mike Leigh, has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to order the release of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, whose trial resumes in Russia today.

Sentsov, who is accused of having committed “crimes of a terrorist nature,” faces up to 20 years in prison. The prosecution’s main witness has retracted his statement, but the trial continues nonetheless.

The letter states that the filmmakers have been “deeply worried” since Sentsov was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, in his house in Simferopol, Crimea, on May 11, 2014. It adds: “Having observed the trial and especially the fact that the key witness for the prosecution has retracted his testimony as ‘given under pressure and duress,’ we are shocked that the accusation of Oleg Sentsov having committed ‘crimes of a terrorist nature’ is still being upheld.”

The letter, which was initiated by the board of the European Film Academy, and is supported by the Polish Film Academy, is also signed by Aki Kaurismaki, Ken Loach, Bertrand Tavernier, Volker Schloendorff and Andrzej Wajda, among others.

“The entire Oleg Sentsov year of imprisonment without trial, and the trial itself is a total fiasco, a cross between a series of trumped up charges and Stalin’s ‘show trials’ of the 1930s,” the European Film Academy’s deputy chairman, Mike Downey, told Variety. “Witnesses have been coerced, evidence tampered with and the entire case for the prosecution is built on a house of cards. If justice is truly done this week in Rostov-on-Don, Sentsov will walk free. The likelihood of this happening is getting more and more remote given the legal system in Russia. The European Film Academy will never stop campaigning for Oleg and we will work tirelessly until he gets the justice he deserves.”

THE FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER:

To:
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – President of Russia
Sergey Evgenyevich Naryshkin – Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation
Alexander Wassiljewitsch Bortnikow – Director of the FSB
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kolokoltsev – Russian Minister of Internal Affairs
Yuriy Yakovlevich Chaika – Prosecutor General

From the moment when we learned that the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was arrested by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) in his house in Simferopol on 11 May 2014, we have been deeply worried. We have followed the proceedings from a trial repeatedly being postponed until over one year later when it finally opened in Rostov-on-Don.

Having observed the trial and especially the fact that the key witness for the prosecution has retracted his testimony as “given under pressure and duress,” we are shocked that the accusation of Oleg Sentsov having committed “crimes of a terrorist nature” is still being upheld.

In the light of these circumstances, we respectfully call upon you:
• to ensure the safety of Oleg Sentsov;
• to have the charges dropped due to insufficient evidence;
• to have the detained released immediately and unconditionally;
• to ensure complete rehabilitation of the detained;
• to instigate a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the apparently arbitrary detention by the FSB and Oleg Sentsov’s statements about torture in order to bring all those responsible to justice.

Yours faithfully,
Stephen Daldry, director, U.K.
Mike Downey, producer, U.K.
Agnieszka Holland, director, Poland
Dariusz Jablonski, producer, Poland
Aki Kaurismaki, director, Finland
Mike Leigh, director, U.K.
Ken Loach, director, U.K.
Wojciech Marczewski, director, Poland
Daniel Olbrychski, actor, Poland
Volker Schloendorff, director, Germany
Bela Tarr, director, Hungary
Bertrand Tavernier, director, France
Andrzej Wajda, director, Poland
Wim Wenders, director, Germany
Krzysztof Zanussi, director, Poland

More Film

  • Malcolm D Lee Uptown Saturday Night

    'Girls Trip' Director Malcolm D. Lee Boards 'Space Jam 2'

    “Girls Trip” director Malcolm D. Lee is replacing Terence Nance as director of “Space Jam 2,” starring LeBron James, for Warner Bros. and James’ SpringHill Entertainment. The departure of Nance, creator of the HBO show “Random Acts of Flyness,” was due to differing visions between Nance and the producers for “Space Jam 2.” Warner Bros. has set [...]

  • Joker movie

    With 'Ad Astra,' 'Joker' Likely, Venice Set for Strong Showing by U.S., Bolstered by Streamers

    Brad Pitt space odyssey “Ad Astra,” Noah Baumbach’s untitled new project, “Joker” with Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Harper’s “The Aeronauts,” Fernando Meirelles’ “The Pope,” the new “Rambo” installment, and heist thriller “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” starring Mick Jagger as a reclusive art dealer, all look bound for the Venice Film Festival, sources tell Variety. The fest [...]

  • CGV's Massive Imax Screen Order Shows

    CGV's Massive Imax Screen Order Shows Optimism for Chinese Exhibition

    Korean cinema giant CGV has signed a deal with Imax to install a further 40 giant screens in movie theaters in China. The deal suggests that China’s multiplex building boom still has some way to run, and that at least one Korean company is still willing to invest in China, despite China’s currently boycott of [...]

  • BAFTA headquarters at 195 Piccadilly, London

    BAFTA Undertakes Major Renovation of Its London Headquarters

    BAFTA has undertaken a major renovation of its London headquarters that will double the building’s capacity and increase space devoted to the British academy’s programs to promote skills training and new talent. Work has already begun on the $31 million overhaul, which is expected to take two years. In the interim, BAFTA will relocate its [...]

  • Andhadhun

    Booming Digital Lifts Eros Indian Film Distribution Giant

    Eros International, India’s largest and most controversial film distributor, says that its digital revenues now outstrip conventional theatrical and syndication revenues. Its Eros Now streaming platform claims 18.8 million paying subscribers. The New York-listed company reported annual results that were distorted by multiple adjustments to presentation. Reported revenues in the year to end of March [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    Second Huayi Brothers Film Is Canceled as Company's Losses Mount

    Still reeling from the cancellation of the theatrical release of its blockbuster “The Eight Hundred,” production studio Huayi Brothers has been hit with another setback: Its comedy “The Last Wish” has also been quietly pulled from China’s summer lineup. Both films have fallen afoul of China’s increasingly heavy-handed censors. The unwelcome development comes as Huayi [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content