To the Seoul Congress of the Audiovisual Authors International Confederation

CC0 / gagnonm1993 / Film footage
Film footage - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.05.2022
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Dear Colleagues, just before departing for Seoul for the annual congress of the authors’ confederation, having been elected a member of its executive committee, I received a notice that the participation of Russian delegates was cancelled as part of the cultural embargo at the request of European representatives.
In these difficult times, Russian screenwriters are trying to gather stones, not scatter them. But a war has been declared on us, just like on the musicians, athletes, Paralympic athletes, and the scientific community before us. Against the backdrop of today's tragedy, this may not be a big problem, but it is evidence that the field of culture has also been turned into a battlefield.
The role of the West in destroying ties between Russia and Ukraine can hardly be exaggerated. It ruins the possibility of dialogue between people of peaceful professions. Culture is also subject to divide and rule - whether by racial or by ethnic criteria.
The idea of ​​collective responsibility is not new. Attitudes to this terrorist-at-heart tenet vary. I unequivocally accept it in relation to myself, since it is imposed on my people, but I will never impose it on others.
Every brand of fascism begins with the idea of ​​ethnic and moral superiority. If I shared such an idea, then as a person with Russian and Jewish blood in my veins, I would have to look down with hatred and contempt on the representatives of European peoples, whose culture did not prevent them from becoming architects and perpetrators of the Holocaust.
- On citizens of cultured states that dismembered Czechoslovakia, paving the way for World War II.
- On the people of democratic countries who condemned Czechoslovakia to the slaughter, but thirty years later were outraged by Soviet tanks in Prague.
- On people whose kinsmen are knee-deep in the blood of the Vilnius and Riga ghettos, Khatyn and Jedvabne, Babi Yar and Salaspils.

But whose culture is responsible for the genocide and apartheid that were the sources of the wealth of Western democracies? Whose culture demanded a three hundred percent profit that eclipsed the ideals of freedom for those who supported dictator friends around the world? Who made millions of Koreans and Indonesians, Vietnamese and Afghans hostage to proxy wars against the USSR?

Who bombed Belgrade, provoked the collapse of Yugoslavia and a series of bloody civil wars among its peoples? Who sowed death and chaos by ‘fighting for democracy’ in Iraq, Libya, and Syria? Who washed their hands of the genocide in Rwanda, and kindled the fires of misanthropic ambitions in places where civil wars were to the benefit to the free world?
Nationalism is born in the minds of intellectuals and matures with war: the ideology of blood and soil demands that the soil be fertilised with blood. Let's admit that the world is ruled not by morals and rectitude, but by profit and double standards: while Mosul and Aleppo were destroyed by countries of completely different cultures, one of these cultures today considers itself entitled to cancel the other.
We are faced with a dilemma: to express solidarity either with those who cancel our culture, or with those who live in it. The Board of our guild, representing people of various political views, has made its choice. We are leaving AVACI and will protect the rights of screenwriters within our own country - until the invisible hand of the market again makes those who cancel us forgo the logic of collective responsibility.
A humanitarian catastrophe is not only what comes with a war that destroys the lives of millions. A humanitarian catastrophe begins in the minds and hearts. This is a chain reaction of the collapse of everything that binds people together: the triumph of the Moloch of the military-industrial complex over common sense.
But not everyone is obliged to sacrifice culture to the God of War. During the war against fascism, we did not cancel Goethe and Rilke, and during the Cold War we did not cancel Kipling and Faulkner. We are not cancelling Vasyl Stus and Lina Kostenko, Kira Muratova and Sergei Loznitsa. We cannot undo anything - neither the spilled blood, nor the heights of the human spirit.
The task of filmmakers is to be the guardians of common sense, to fight with their stories against dehumanisation; for the cohesion of society and the dialogue of cultures. Politics dominates minds and souls, dividing people. But it’s up to the people to accept or reject such divisions.
Alexey Aleshkovsky
President of the Screenwriters Guild
Union of Cinematographers of Russia
The views and opinions expressed by the writer in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
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