EFA Pleas for Russian Director Nikita Mikhalkov to Help Imprisoned Ukrainian Filmmaker

Four days before the appeal against Oleg Sentsov’s 20-year sentence at the Russian Supreme Court, prolific members of the European Film Academy, among them EFA President Wim Wenders and Chairwoman Agnieszka Holland, address Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, president of Russia’s association of filmmakers, to join in the international protest and help the Ukrainian filmmaker.

Following his opposition to the annexation of Crimea by Russia, in May 2014 the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was arrested by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) and deported to Moscow. Although the key witness had retracted his testimony as given "under duress”, the trial based on the accusation of Oleg Sentsov having committed “crimes of a terrorist nature” was continued. Supporters across Europe, institutional and individual, have gathered thousands of signatures supporting an EFA letter to the President of Russia and Russian authorities asking for Sentsov’s immediate release. But at the end of what Amnesty International describes as “an unfair trial in a military court” he was sentenced to 20 years in jail. The Russian Supreme Court will now hear the appeal against the sentence on Tuesday, 24 November

A couple of days ago, the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborza also published an open letter (below) by Daniel Olbrychski. The Polish actor wrote to his “Russian brother” Nikita Mikhalkov as the one filmmaker closest to the Russian president and to this particular case, calling on him to “do something” and reminding him that “chiefly what remains after us, when we have passed, is the good we do selflessly for others.” 

Here is the text of the new EFA letter:   

Dear Nikita Mikhalkov,   

We, your undersigning colleagues, are addressing ourselves to you in your capacity as President of the Council of The Union of Filmmakers of the Russian Federation.   

On Tuesday, 24 November, the filmmaking community of Europe will look to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in Moscow where Oleg Sentsov’s appeal against his sentence of 20 years in prison will take place. 

There has been massive protest from all over Europe including Russia and from around the World against this sentence which is violating Oleg Sentsov’s human rights. This verdict is a clear expression of what we all should prevent: The damage of the freedom of speech.   

It is our responsibility – as filmmakers and as human beings -  to stand up for human rights and the freedom of speech. Please raise your voice and support us in our support of Oleg Sentsov.     

Agnieszka Holland
Volker Schlöndorff 
Andrzej Wajda 
Wim Wenders 


The letter by Daniel Olbrychski. published in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborza (below in Russian):

My dear Nikita,

I have been trying to contact you prior to the first Oleg Sentsov’ trial in Rostov. I have asked: your wife Tania, your production company, and finally your assistant who answered your mobile phone. You did not respond as you were reportedly in China. 

I think the matter is so important that, before the current trial (which will take place on 24 November in Moscow), I am trying to contact you again. This time, in the form of an open letter.

Our (nearly) fifty year long fraternal friendship authorizes me to do so. You are not only one of the greatest artists of contemporary cinema, but for me you have always been a great, deep and wise man. My Russian brother. 

I believe that you do not think and feel differently to all the great artists from many countries who signed the letters regarding our Ukrainian colleague to President Putin. The cruelty of first-instance trial brings to mind the darkest judgments of the past of our common civilization and culture. I appeal to you and I beg you, as your Polish brother, to do something. Among all of us you are the person closest to your President and the case.

You know that well,  it is upon us what we do for others selflessly.


Warsaw, November 17th 2015

Мой дорогой Никита,                                                                                             

Я старался с Тобой связаться перед первым судебным заседанием в процессе по делу Олега Сенцова в Ростове. Я просил, чтобы Ты связался со мной, Твою жену Таню, Твоих продюсеров, наконец Твоего ассистента, который брал трубку Твоего телефона. БезуспешноЯкобыТы был в Китае

Я считаю, что вопрос настолько важен, что перед предстоящим заседанием, которое пройдет 24 ноября в Москве, я пытаюсь связаться с Тобой еще раз. На этот раз, в виде открытого письма. 

Наша почти пятидесятилетняя братская дружба дает мне на это право. Ты не только один из самых великих режиссеров современного кинематографа, но для меня Ты также всегда был прекрасным, глубоким и умным человеком. Моим русским братом.

Я не верю, что Ты думаешь и чувствуешь по-другому, чем все превосходные представители искусства, которые подписались под письмами президенту Путину по вопросу  нашего украинского коллеги. Жестокость приговора суда первой инстанции наводит на мысль самые страшные приговоры из прошлого нашей общей цивилизации и культуры. Я призываю Тебя и умоляю, как Твой польский брат, сделай что-нибудь! Среди нас всех, Ты имеешь лучший контакт с Твоим Президентом и этим делом. 

Ты отлично знаешь, что после того как уходим, на самом деле, остается лишь то хорошее, что мы бескорыстно сделали ради других.

Твой Даниель                            
, 17 ноября 2015.