Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf has dedicated his Robert Bresson Award to the imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov.
Makhmalbaf received the award yesterday at the Venice Film Festival. Presented by the Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo and by the Rivista del Cinematografo magazine, the Robert Bresson award is given to a director who “has given a testimony, significant for sincerity and intensity, of the difficult passage in search of spiritual meaning in our lives”.
Before the award ceremony, Makhmalbaf stated that he had been made aware of Sentsov’s fate last month when he served as jury president at the On The Edge Film Festival in the city of Sakhalin in Russia’s Far East.
In August a Russian court sentenced Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov to 20 years in prison for plotting terrorist acts in Crimea.
The award-winning director, best known for his film Gamer, was arrested in May 2014 shortly after conflict between Ukraine and Russian-supported forces broke out. He is accused of setting up a terrorist group and plotting attacks on infrastructure and pro-Russian groups.
The Federation of European Film Directors (FERA) has sent a letter of protest to the Russian ambassador to the European Union calling for Sentsov’s “immediate release”.