How to talk about Ukraine? Four days before the ceremony, the Oscars in indecision

The high mass of the Hollywood gratin will be held while the war rages in Eastern Europe. How will the Oscars show their commitment?

Should we talk about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia? and if yes, how? The Oscars ceremony takes place on Sunday evening and Hollywood is still not sure which foot to dance on.

Leonardo DiCaprio showed it with the climate crisis, Joaquin Phoenix drove home the point by being indignant on stage at the artificial insemination of cows: stars can discuss political subjects at the Oscars and even be applauded for it .

“It depends a lot on how you talk about it,” says Scott Feinberg, award specialist for The Hollywood Reporter magazine. “If we just look like we’re doing a publicity stunt or giving a lesson, it’s not going to go over well. But if it’s sincere, that it makes sense, then the result can be different,” says- he to AFP.

Hollywood initiatives

Ukraine-born Mila Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher are a good example of Hollywood stars leveraging their notoriety for the Ukrainian cause. The fundraising page launched by the couple on the GoFundMe site has already raised more than 35 million dollars intended to fund emergency aid and accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries.

President Volodymyr Zelensky himself welcomed this initiative. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis “were among the first to react to our distress,” wrote the Ukrainian head of state, who was still an actor before his election. “Grateful for their support. Impressed by their determination,” he added.

Sean Penn, who was in kyiv for a documentary when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, has activated his humanitarian foundation which will help refugees in Poland.

“Ukraine is the spearhead of the fight for the dreams of democracy. If we leave it to fight alone, we lose our soul as America,” Sean Penn said in a statement to AFP.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the “Terminator”, has meanwhile called on Vladimir Putin to end this “senseless” conflict, in a message that has gone viral on social networks.

Many lesser-known filmmakers have also taken on the violence since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and backed Donbass separatists.

Two worlds colliding

Between gestures of solidarity towards Ukraine and virulent anti-Putin tirades, the Russian invasion is a constant subject of concern in all the events of the film awards season in Hollywood.

“We are with the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the war, both Ukrainian and of other ethnicities and nationalities”, launched the American actress Kristen Stewart during the Spirit Awards for independent cinema.

Presenter Megan Mullally was even more blunt in her denunciation: “I think I speak for everyone when I say we hope for a quick and peaceful resolution…especially ‘Fuck off and go home Putin’ “, did she say.

The risk of clumsiness

Comedian Amy Schumer, who will co-present the Oscars on Sunday evening, should not fall into such language gaps. But she said she recently floated the idea of ​​inviting President Zelensky to speak “via satellite or recorded message, because there are a lot of eyes on the Oscars.” The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the prestigious trophies, has not publicly seized the ball and the proposal seems to have been dismissed. Amy Schumer admitted that “there’s a certain pressure for it to be like, ‘This is a digression, let people forget, we just want to enjoy the evening'”.

For journalist Scott Feinberg, the organizers may have wanted to avoid a mix of genres which could have been awkward. For Volodymyr Zelensky, “it’s about managing a life or death situation. And of course, he’s a former actor but I still feel like it could have really exploded in their faces”, he explains.

Leave it to the artists?

The organizers are “thinking hard to find how to talk about the subject without making the show something excessively political or a factor of discord”, estimates Scott Feinberg.

The producers of the Oscars could ultimately not address this sensitive subject at all: the winners of the evening will probably take care of it themselves by coming to receive their statuettes.

“If I had to bet, I’d say almost every speech will mention Ukraine and the atrocities taking place there,” said Clayton Davis of the magazine. variety.