Ukrainian producer Julia Sinkevych, named main jury president at French TV fest Series Mania, was able to leave Ukraine on March 17, despite the ongoing war. She arrived a day later in Lille, northern France,

“Last night, there was bombing not far from Lviv, so you never know. [Producer] Dariusz Jabłoński and the Polish Film Academy are helping out Ukrainian filmmakers and they will pick me up when I am in Poland,” Sinkevych told Variety while still in Ukraine, during a conversation interrupted by a siren.

“Usually, it means you have to hide. But I am so tired of it – it happens so often. So sometimes, I don’t.”

In the worst-case scenario, when she thought she might have to stay in Ukraine, Sinkevych thought she would be watching competition titles online from a shelter, with French writer and director Marc Dugain appointed as vice-president. Sinkevych admitted she was “scared and frightened” to leave Ukraine as she might not be able to return to her family, but was adamant about bringing more attention to what is happening in her country.

“I don’t have military training; I don’t know how to fight. But I know how culture can influence people and how cinema can change their perceptions on the world. That’s how I can be useful right now,” she said.

“I decided it will be a chance for me to speak up and not have someone else speaking on our behalf, like Sergei Loznitsa is doing at the moment – someone who hasn’t lived here for 20 years, someone who is not here at the moment and someone who doesn’t know how it feels. Someone who admits that he belongs to Russian culture.”

While the “Donbass” helmer has spoken against the boycott of Russian films, Sinkevych praised Series Mania’s decision to bar Russian film and TV organization Roskino from attending the festival.

“[Founder and general director] Laurence Herszberg was one of the first people to react and take action. We came up with this demand to boycott Russians – on all possible levels. No films or TV series in the festival programmes, no co-productions, no memberships in any European or international film organization, no distribution. No nothing.”

According to Sinkevych, there aren’t enough Ukrainian voices heard in the foreign media, especially in terms of culture.

“I am not saying that every festival should now dedicate entire sections to Ukraine, but it’s important to make sure we don’t fade into the background, which is what we are afraid of. There is always something else happening in the world. But if Ukraine falls, which I doubt, they might move forward.”

Although life goes on also during the war and things might be normal again sometime in the future, she said, there is no space for dialogue at the moment.

“They come to your country, threaten and bomb people, and say: ‘Let’s make a deal.’ What is there to talk about? Also, it didn’t start two weeks ago – it started eight years ago. After some time, there will be this rethinking of what has happened and an attempt to find a common language. But now, we are disgusted and we just hate them. All of them,” she added.

“A couple of days ago, someone asked me to take part in a discussion, suggesting they could also invite someone ‘normal’ from Russia. No way. I would only accept [veteran Russian actor] Liya Akhedzhakova, because she has always been speaking out.”

“People say: ‘We support the Ukrainians and the Russian opposition.’ Or these ‘poor’ Russian directors. That’s a no-go for us. These ‘critical’ filmmakers were getting money from the Ministry of Culture, also for their ‘critical’ films, [Russian film critic Anton] Dolin was on the Cinema Fund’s expert committee. If you are so critical, what were you doing there? It’s very convenient now, when it seems to be over for them, to say: ‘We are so against it’,” she added.

“I am pissed off, seeing all these distributors and producers lamenting the end of their careers. Yes, your company might go bankrupt, but our actors and directors are carrying firearms and burying their colleagues. One of Ukrainian actors [Pasha Lee] was killed several days ago and at first, they couldn’t even find his body. It’s not the same thing.”

This article was updated on March 18.