During his acceptance speech at Friday’s ICG Publicist’s Guild awards luncheon, legendary director Francis Ford Coppola made an impassioned plea for the Russian invasion of Ukraine to end.
“I confess I met Putin, and I met Zelenskyy who is really a show business guy, his whole government, all of them are actors,” Coppola said during his acceptance speech. “And I know of what I speak when I say, if one word would just be said, one word with the force of meaning: Stop. It would [be] stop, because believe me, anyone who knows this, the difference between NATO and the Russian forces is 25 times greater. And, Putin is not an insane, deranged person. He is a calculating person and if someone said stop and meant that, he would stop.”
Coppola was in attendance accepting the Guild’s lifetime achievement award. During his speech, he briefly thanked his publicist of 10 years, Annalee Paulo, calling her a “wonderful associate,” before admitting that he was going to throw out his speech to speak from his heart about the situation in Ukraine. Coppola also talked about the dangers of climate change at length, saying that in addition to ‘stop,’ he also wanted to offer the word ‘tokamak,’ referring to Russian-developed devices that create thermonuclear power. Coppola talked about the devices at length, referring to them as a way to solve the current climate crisis.
“If they don’t take the word stop as being definitive, which it would be, I say then use another Russian word: tokamak,” Coppola continued during his speech. “What is tokamak? Tokamak is, in one word, the solution to this desperate climate situation, which Russian scientists and American scientists could achieve without a doubt. So what I want to offer is that there is a solution. There’s a wonderful human solution to what this absurd world is going through now. And if it’s not stop, which would work, then I say tokamak, which those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, understand that that could evade this climate disaster more easily than any other thing I can think of because it would give us energy with no price, no pollution. So I know, none of this is relevant, but I’m saying it to you because you’re the publicists, and this is the word of hope in the future.”
During his speech, Coppola also talked about his background growing up in Queens, N.Y. with many different immigrant groups, and his experiences with both Russian Americans and Ukrainian Americans.
“Russian Americans gave me the privilege, one family, to let me hold a Stradivarius, two Stradivarius violins in my hands,” Coppola said. “My heart is so filled with love of Ukraine Americans, who have these wonderful dance competitions and choral contests that are so wonderful and it breaks my heart of what is happening in the world, this absurd reality of this world today, and I can’t not speak about that.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with a series of missiles and airstrikes upon Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv. Over the last month, Russia’s invasion has caused the largest European refugee crisis since World War II, with over 3.6 million Ukrainians being forced to flee the country. According to Ukraine, at least 3,000 civilians have died as a result of the invasion.