Eight months after the arrest of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, a renewed plea has gone out for his release. The European Film Academy has joined with the French Directors’ Guild (aka SRF which organizes Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes) in support of Sentsov, who was detained by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation on May 10. A new petition calling for the film community to read a statement during public appearances and interviews voicing their opposition to his detainment and trial has been signed by more than 300 people. They include The Impossible helmer Juan Antonio Bayona, Rust And Bone director Jacques Audiard, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo helmer Niels Arden Oplev, Costa Gavras, Starred Up’s David Mackenzie, actor Stellan Skarsgård and Venice Film Festival chief Alberto Barbera.
The signatories (full list here) will now read the statement below during any interview or public appearance they may have. The groups say their aim is so that “from now on there will not be a day, not even an hour, without these sentences being repeated and heard above the noise of the world.”
The statement reads: “I belong to the international community of filmmakers, and in the light of this, I ask President Putin to free one of our own, the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov. His trial is scheduled to open on 11 January 2015 in Moscow. Accused of ‘committing crimes of a terrorist nature, which he denies totally, he faces up to 20 years of prison. Together with all filmmakers who signed this text, I denounce solemnly this trial for imaginary crimes. This aggression against Oleg Sentsov is an aggression against all filmmakers, all over the world.”
Sentsov helmed Rotterdam Festival entry Gaamer in 2011 and at the International Film Festival of Odessa the next year, he won a pitching prize with his follow-up project Rhino. Earlier this year, he had been involved in supporting the Euro Maidan protests in Kiev, and opposed the annexation of Crimea by Russia. On May 10, he was arrested at his home in Simferopol and taken to Moscow where he is still awaiting trial. Originally scheduled for October 11, it was just postponed to January 11.