West News Wire: The cultural backlash against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grew on Tuesday, with the Cannes Film Festival announcing no Russian delegations this year and the Venice Film Festival announcing free screenings of a film about the 2014 conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Other high-profile protests in the arts include Hollywood’s decision to remove films set for release in Russia and the Munich Philharmonic’s decision to replace chief conductor Valery Gergiev. Gergiev’s backing for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his refusal to denounce the invasion were noted by the orchestra, which was joined by other orchestras and festivals associated to him.

Cannes, which is scheduled for May, is the most global of film festivals and its international village of flag-waving pavilions annually hosts more than 80 countries from around the world.

In a statement, festival organizers said the ban on any official Russian delegation or individuals linked to the Kremlin would remain “unless the war of assault ends in conditions that will satisfy the Ukrainian people.”

The festival didn’t rule out accepting films from Russia. In recent years, Cannes has showcased films from filmmakers like Kirill Serebrennikov, even though the director hasn’t been unable to attend. Serebrennikov is under a three-year travel ban after being accused of embezzlement by the Russian government in a case that was protested by the Russian artistic community and in Europe.

Hollywood continued pulling its films out of Russian theaters. After the Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and Sony announced they would halt distributing films in Russia, including Warner’s highly anticipated “The Batman,” Paramount Pictures announced likewise on Tuesday. That includes upcoming releases like “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and “The Lost City.”

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The Venice Film Festival, meanwhile, said it was organizing free screenings of the film “Reflection,” about the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region as a sign of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The screenings are scheduled for next week in Rome, Milan and Venice.

The film, which was presented in competition at Venice last year, tells the story of a Ukrainian surgeon who is taken prisoner by Russia during the Donbas conflict in eastern Ukraine. In 2014, Russia threw its weight behind an insurgency in the mostly Russian speaking eastern Ukraine region known as Donbas, where Russia-backed rebels seized government buildings and proclaimed the creation of “people’s republics.”


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