The Russian film academy has announced that they won’t be submitting any official candidates for the international feature film category at the upcoming Oscars, marking the first time the country hasn’t participated in the awards show since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. In response to the boycott, several members of Russia’s Oscar committee, including its president Pavel Tchoukhraï, have resigned (via Variety).
Though the Russian film academy didn’t offer an explicit reason for their boycott, their decision arrives as tensions between them and the US rise amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. Filmmaker Nikita Mikhailkov, chair of the Union of Cinematographers of Russia and a vocal supporter of Vladimir Putin, said “it didn’t make sense” for the Oscars to select a film from Russia while the US “currently denies its existence.” Another Russian filmmaker, Karen Shakhnazarov, told local news outlets that “sending a film to the US would be like sending a film to Germany during the Second World War to get the prize of the Third Reich.”
Meanwhile, Tchoukhraï issued a letter condemning the Russian film academy for taking an “unilateral decision over the head of the committee” and said it was both “unfair and illegal.” Several members of the committee, including Nikolaï Dostal, Sergey Selyanov, Vladimir Kott, and Andrey Zvyagintsev, followed Tchoukhraï in resigning.
Some committee members left earlier this year following Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine. “We can’t do business as usual when we’re at war,” member Evgeniy Gindilis told Variety. “I left the committee on February 27th after Russia invaded Ukraine… While it’s wrong that film festivals or awards ceremony are boycotting Russian films, I don’t feel that it’s right to participate in promoting Russian films at this time.” The Guardian points out that Russia has also put Vitaly Mansky, one of the country’s most renowned documentary filmmakers and a critic of its war on Ukraine, on a wanted list.
The 95th Academy Awards are scheduled for March 12th, 2023.