This year’s prize for the Best Narrative Short was awarded to director Lenar Kamalov’s debut Phone Duty, in which the main role is played by Russian writer and part-time terrorist Zakhar Prilepin. This mad man who likes to shoot Ukrainians is called simply “Donbass rebel fighter” at the festival’s website.
American-Ukrainian pianist Pavlo Gintov was the first who drew attention to this. Festival’s spokesperson Tammie Rosen in response to quite reasonable questions first advised… to address the producer and director of the film, and then transferred to threats: “Your statement that the Tribeca Film Festival supports terrorism will be regarded as defamation.”
On the online platform change.org has posted a petition “Make Tribeca Film Festival Deprive Anti-Ukrainian Movie of the Award” (https://www.change.org/p/tribeca-film-festival-deprive-anti-ukrainian-movie-of-the-award) with the demands to:
- Denounce Phone Duty as the winner of the Best Narrative Short award.
- Remove the phrase “Donbass rebel fighter” from the movie synopsis on the Festival’s website. “Russian terrorist” would be a more appropriate wording.
- Publicly apologize for hurting the feelings of all Ukrainians, who've lost their loved ones as a result of Russia's military intervention into Ukraine.
At the time I personally visited Tribeca as a journalist. In general it’s intelligent, interesting, very New York festival. It was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff as a cinematography response to the terrible terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The goal of the project was to restore the business and social activity of the most affected Lower Manhattan, and in particular the area of Tribeca (it’s a syllabic abbreviation from “Triangle Below Canal Street”). And therefore it is especially strange and even insulting to see how terrorists are supported here.
There is another problem. It is clear that our Foreign Ministry cannot keep track of all competitions, festivals, etc. But now it is not too late for our diplomatic mission in the United States to voice its position.
The thesis that in the Donbas we are confronted by the terrorists who are supported by Russia must be brought to the attention of the Western public as widely as possible. Otherwise, such situations will continue in the future.
In Russia there are a lot of different Prilepins and Kamalovs.