Tchaikovsky’s Wife filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov, a Russian dissident, was grilled, by the global press at Cannes over the pic being bankrolled by oligarch financing in particular Roman Abramovich, as well as the notion of the world’s boycott against all things Russia.
Abramovich recently said he was donating monies from the sale of England’s Chelsea FC to a foundation that would benefit the war victims of Ukraine. Did the financier have similar plans to donate any future monies earned from Tchaikovsky’s Wife?
Serebrennikov fielded the question by saying Abramovich is one of the good guys.
“He helps modern art, and he has for a long time now. He’s a real patron of Russia and that’s been deeply appreciated. Thanks to him, we have arthouse cinema,” said the filmmaker.
The oligarch’s Kinoprime foundation is all for the greater glory of art per Serebrennikov: “These aren’t propaganda films, rather the contrary. You must realize he does a lot of good.”
“Zelenskyy asked President Joe Biden not to put Abramovich under any sanctions. He asked Abramovich be one of the key people on peace,” the director continued, “I agree entirely with we need to lift the sanctions against Abramovich.”
Reports have read that the U.S. Treasury department drafted sanctions against Abramovich, which were to be released in tandem with those from the European Union and the United Kingdom. However, per WSJ, the White House’s National Security Council told the Treasury to pause back in March as Zelensky advised Biden that the oligarch could prove fruitful in brokering peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.
“I haven’t gotten money from the state and this private foundation Kinoprime helped us on the last two films,” Serebrennikov said.
Added the film’s producer Ilya Stewart about the film’s financial status, “We’re very far away from earning a lot of money,” stating that the production was funded by donations and intricate foreign co-financing including France and Switzerland “that help and support us, it’s not about business; it’s about art.”
Serebrennikov added, “I would also like to say it’s very important to help the victims. There are number of refugees from Ukraine and Russia…people can’t work anymore, they’ve left their previous lives and that’s traumatizing in Russia.”
“Russians feel guilt whence forth the unfortunate attitude toward Russians,” he continued, “It’s important to help all the victims, and those who are sent by the families to fight and have no income anymore.”
Artists have to do it; I do this myself,” said Serebrennikov about his personal charity toward Ukraine war victims.
Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux was also asked in a fest opening presser earlier this week about Tchaikovsky’s Wife being allowed to compete at the festival, despite the ban on Russian journalists from pro-Putin publications, not mention the pic being backed by Abramovich. The festival boss explained that Cannes decided to accept the movie because it was shot before the war against Ukraine, when receiving Russian money wasn’t problematic.
“We have a different position from that of France or the European Commission,” Frémaux explained then. “One might consider that you should sanction countries that support Russia – well no, we haven’t gone that far.”
Serebrennikov was asked several questions today about the world’s boycott of Russia. “I understand people are calling for a boycott, but I don’t accept it,” he answered.
While he agrees the “Russian imperialist thrust should stop” he added that “we should avoid boycotting theater, cinema, on the contrary this is what makes people feel alive. Boycotting Russian culture strikes me as unbearable. Russian culture has always promoted human values visa vie people’s souls. Russian culture has been anti-militaristic. People who trigger wars throw people in the trenches and they’re not interested in people’s pain.”
Tchaikovsky’s Wife, which is playing in competition at Cannes, follows the tumultuous relationship between Pyotr Tchaikovsky, the most famous Russian composer of all time, and his wife Antonina Miliukova.