The Venice Biennale, which is the multidisciplinary arts organization behind the Venice Film Festival, has announced that in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fest plans to bar Russian delegations but not independent Russian filmmakers and their works.
The Biennale “intends to express its full support to all the Ukrainian people and their artists,” the org said in a statement on Wednesday, announcing that it’s making every effort to ensure that, despite the war, Ukraine will be able to participate at the upcoming Biennale Art exhibition which kicks off in April with a national pavilion.
As previously announced, Russia proactively pulled out of the art Biennale.
But when it comes to banning Russian artists in all fields, including film, the Biennale said it will not implement an all-out boycott.
“The Biennale is also close to all those in Russia who are courageously opposing the war. Among them, artists and authors of all disciplines, many of whom were guests of the Biennale in the past,” the statement said.
Therefore, “it will not close the door to those who defend freedom of expression and demonstrate against the ignoble and unacceptable decision to attack a sovereign state and its defenseless population,” the statement added.
“For those who oppose the current Russian regime, there will always be a place in the exhibitions of the Biennale, from art to architecture, and in its festivals, from cinema to dance, from music to theater,” it specified.
The Biennale’s position on the war in Ukraine is similar to Cannes, which on Tuesday said that it will “always serve artists and industry professionals that raise their voices to denounce violence, repression and injustices, for the main purpose to defend peace and liberty.”
Venice last year served as the launching pad for two Ukrainian works that delve into the current war: Valentin Vasyanovych’s “Reflections,” about a Ukrainian surgeon captured by Russian military forces in the previously existing conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine; and “Rhino” by Oleg Sentsov, the director seized by Russian security officials after the annexation of Ukraine’s Black Sea Crimea territory in 2014, who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars on trumped-up terrorism charges and finally freed in 2019.
The 79th Venice Film Festival is set to run Aug. 31-Sept. 10