Russia will be boycotting the upcoming Academy Awards in March of 2023, and in protest will not be submitting an official Oscar candidate for the international feature film category, according to Variety. The Russian film academy made the announcement on Monday evening, a move that reflects heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia as the war in Ukraine reaches a potentially deadly and internationally fraught apex. Russia has been at war in Ukraine since late February, but has recently felt considerable pressure as a result of Ukrainian counterattacks, responding by holding phony elections in occupied territory to begin the process of formally absorbing those territories into Russia. Tensions have especially risen as a result of televised statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which the leader has implied the potential use of nuclear weapons.
As far as Russian artists and filmmakers are concerned, however, it seems as if the sentiment is hardly unanimous. The head of Russia’s Oscar committee, Pavel Tchoukhraï, reportedly said the country’s decision to not submit a film for the Oscars was done without his consent, and he subsequently resigned his post, according to Variety. He was followed by other members of the committee who also resigned—a potentially dangerous move in a country where any resistance to the state is potentially reason for heavy punishment.
Russia has a very active film industry, though relatively few of these films find widespread releases in the U.S. Notable Russian films of the last few years, as far as awards exposure go, included Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless, or Kantemir Balagov’s Beanpole. This year’s most significant movie from a Russian filmmaker comes from an anti-Russia political dissident, Kirill Serebrennikov, who directed Tchaikovsky’s Wife, which recently competed at Cannes.
Even if the war in Ukraine sees some kind of unexpectedly peaceful conclusion in the coming months, one has to imagine that Western access to Russian cinema will still be fairly limited for the conceivable future.