His climb up the steps on Wednesday to present his new feature film "Tchaikovsky's wife", in the running for the Palme d'Or, has drawn strong criticism from representatives of Ukrainian filmmakers, who have called for " erase" "everything Russian".

"First, I must say that I understand why they say what they say. I understand that they are in a terrible situation, that people are losing their lives, their homes (...) For them, it It's even difficult to hear the Russian language. I understand that very well", reacted to AFP the director of "Leto" (2018) and "Petrov fever" (2021).

"But cutting out everything Russian would be a big mistake and I'm happy that the Cannes Film Festival has chosen the right solution," he adds.

The Cannes Film Festival had, at the end of March, announced that it would ban Russian filmmakers close to power but would not close the door to filmmakers critical of the regime.

A few weeks later, its general delegate, Thierry Frémaux, had indicated that Ukraine would be "in everyone's mind" during the festival, with in particular several Ukrainian films programmed.

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov at the Cannes Film Festival, May 19, 2022 Stefano RELLANDINI AFP

"Not fair"

A position welcomed by the 52-year-old director, who believes that we should not "ban people because of their nationality".

"Are you ready to erase Chekhov, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and other Russian geniuses? It's not fair. It's not fair to banish people because of their nationality," he repeated.

Known for his iconoclastic creations, his support for LGBT+ people and his indirect criticism of Putin's regime, Kirill Serebrennikov, who will open the Avignon Festival in July, is in competition at Cannes for the third time.

He had, until now, never been able to go to the Cannes Film Festival for his films in competition, the Russian justice having prohibited him from leaving the territory, within the framework of a case of embezzlement.

Without being an opponent or a dissident, he has always publicly taken a stand against the shrinking of freedoms in Russia or the wars waged by the Kremlin abroad, and participated in demonstrations.

On Wednesday, he called for an end to the war in Ukraine at the end of the official screening of his film.

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov at the Cannes Film Festival, May 19, 2022 Stefano RELLANDINI AFP

Questioned in Cannes by some Ukrainians who claim that "his whole career was financed by Russian government money", Serebrennikov told AFP that his film was financed "by independent Russian companies" as well as by " European funds".

“I am asked about the role of Abramovich (Russian oligarch) who holds one of the funds that financed my film. Abramovich is someone who has helped contemporary art projects, NGOs (.. .) and he is someone who has been in the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia,” he explained.

© 2022 AFP