Russia attacks Ukraine: Zelenskyy opens Cannes Film Festival with emotional video address

CANNES, France — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an emotional video address Tuesday during the opening of the 75th Cannes Film Festival, urging filmmakers to use cinema to speak out against dictators during Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

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According to The Associated Press, Zelenskyy, speaking live via satellite video, referenced Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 film “The Great Dictator,” which satirized Adolf Hitler during World War II.

“‘The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people,’” Zelenskyy said, quoting Chaplin’s speech from the film. He added: “We need a new Chaplin who will demonstrate that the cinema of our time is not silent.”

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Apparently referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zelenskyy also said, “I’m sure that the dictator will lose,” according to Variety.

Zelenskyy received a standing ovation from those attending the 12-day festival, which opened Tuesday with the premiere of the zombie film “Final Cut,” the AP reported.

Zelenskyy’s address came just hours before Finland and Sweden submitted their applications to join NATO on Wednesday, according to the AP. The two long-neutral nations have expressed security concerns since Russian troops first invaded Ukraine in late February, the news agency reported.

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Since the invasion began, at least 3,752 civilians have been killed and 4,062 have been injured in Ukraine, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner reported Tuesday. The number of military deaths, however, is harder to verify. The Washington Post, citing a NATO official, reported in late March that as many as 15,000 Russian troops had died in the fighting, while the Ukrainian government said last week that the number of slain Russian soldiers had grown to about 27,000, according to Agence France-Presse. Zelenskyy said last month that up to 3,000 of his nation’s troops had died, but Russia claimed in late March that it had killed 14,000 Ukrainian soldiers, Forbes reported.

The fighting also has displaced millions of people living in Ukraine. As of Monday, nearly 6.3 million people had fled from Ukraine to other countries, including almost 3.4 million to neighboring Poland, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.