The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has reportedly been snubbed by the Oscars for the second year in a row.
According to Variety, Zelenskiy had been hoping to appear on this Sunday’s telecast following on from previous cultural appearances but the request has been denied. In the past year, the comedian turned politician has appeared via satellite during the Grammy awards and Golden Globes and within film festivals such as Cannes and most recently Berlin. Last month marked the first anniversary of Russia invading Ukraine.
Zelenskiy had secured Mike Simpson, a top power agent at major agency WME, after his client Aaron Kaufman co-directed Ukraine documentary Superpower made with Sean Penn, who loaned one of his two Oscars to Zelenskiy last year.
The actor called it “a symbolic silly thing” but after Ukraine wins the war against Russia, he could bring it back to him. He had previously promised to smelt an Oscar if the Academy didn’t let him speak. “There is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give [Zelensky] an opportunity to talk to all of us,” he said.
Last year it was reported that Oscars executive producer Will Packer had expressed concern over allowing Zelenskiy airtime as everyone affected by the conflict is white and previous tragedies involving people of colour hadn’t received the same attention. The ceremony instead included a moment of silence.
The news comes after a recent poll that showed weakening American support for assistance to Ukraine.
This year’s best documentary category includes A House Made of Splinters, which focuses on children who lost their parents in the war. The best picture category includes Top Gun: Maverick, which has this week come under fire after reports the film was partly funded by Russian oligarch Dimitry Rybolovlev. The Ukrainian World Congress, an expat group based in Toronto, has expressed “serious concerns over Russia’s influence on the Hollywood film industry”. Paramount has yet to comment.
The Academy has yet to make a comment about Zelensky.