A few days before the Oscars ceremony, Hollywood is debating whether and how to address the Russian invasion of Ukraine, launch fundraising campaigns or invite President Volodymyr Zelensky to speak at the ceremony by video.
As Leonardo DiCaprio’s warnings about the climate crisis or Joaquin Phoenix’s outrage over the artificial insemination of cows showed, celebrities rarely hesitate to make political statements at the Oscars, despite accusations of hypocrisy.
“It all depends on how they approach it,” said Scott Feinberg, columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, in an interview with France-Presse (AFP).
“If it seems like it’s just flattery or a lecture, it’s not going to end well. But if it’s something sincere and meaningful, I think the outcome will be different,” he said. he adds.
One example of how Hollywood stars are using their platform to achieve real goals is the fundraising campaign created by Ukrainian-born actress Mila Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher. The couple have raised $35 million to support Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries and both praise Zelensky’s performance.
Kutcher and “Mila Kunis were the first to respond to our pain,” wrote the Ukrainian president, who was an actor before entering politics.
“Grateful for their support. Impressed by their determination. They inspire the world,” he added.
Sean Penn, who was in kyiv filming a documentary when the invasion began on February 24, signed an agreement for his foundation to provide education and shelter for refugees in Poland.
“Ukraine is the spearhead for embracing the democratic dream. If we leave it to fight alone, our soul as the United States is lost,” he said in a statement.
In a video that has gone viral, Arnold Schwarzenegger called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the “senseless” war in Ukraine.
Many lesser-known filmmakers have tackled the conflict in Ukraine since 2014, when Putin annexed Crimea and backed separatists in the Donbass region.
Documentary ‘A House Made of Splinters’ and drama ‘Klondike’, which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, examine the impact that the long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine has had had on families and children.
In Hollywood awards season, references to the situation in Ukraine were constant, from expressions of solidarity to criticism of Vladimir Putin.
“We stand with the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war, Ukrainians and other nationalities, who are being denied safe haven,” actress Kristen Stewart said at the Independent Spirit Awards ceremony.
Host Megan Mullally used stronger language: “I think I speak for everyone here when I say we hope for a quick and peaceful solution, above all fuck off and go home, Putin”, she said.
Amy Schumer, one of the three Oscar hosts, probably won’t use the same tone after recently saying she suggested inviting Zelensky “to participate via satellite or record a message because a lot of people are watching the Oscars.”
Although the Academy hasn’t commented, the idea appears to have been dismissed, and Schumer admitted that “there’s definitely pressure to say, ‘This is to relax, let people forget – we want just have tonight “”.
For Feinberg, “it seems like they realized it would be out of tune”.
Zelensky “deals with matters of life and death. And yes, he was an actor, but it seems like it could have backfired on him,” he commented.