Karlovy Vary star Schreiber puts focus on Ukraine

Liev Schreiber

The biggest name on the opening weekend of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Liev Schreiber, used his appearance to draw attention to the plight of Ukraine. The Hollywood actor said the conflict had made him reflect on his Ukrainian roots – and explained why he believes Russia will lose.

The maternal grandfather of Hollywood star Liev Schreiber was from Ukraine and since the Russian invasion Schreiber has been very active in generating support for the country with the organisation BlueCheck Ukraine.

He has also provided food to refugees in Poland and even entered Ukraine itself.

He discussed various aspects of the Ukraine situation at a special news conference in Karlovy Vary.

“When the invasion began, I again began thinking about what it meant to be Ukrainian. And to be honest I have absolutely no idea.

“Particularly when I see men by age who are graphic designers, or stone masons, or artists, hugging their children and saying goodbye to their wives and picking up guns and preparing to fight in a war in which they are vastly outnumbered and outgunned – and not knowing if they will ever see their families again.”

Liev Schreiber in the TV series Ray Donovan | Photo:  Showtime

Schreiber, perhaps best known for his portrayal of the lead character in the TV series Ray Donovan, said he hoped events like his news conference would help prevent people from losing interest in the conflict as it drags on into its fifth month.

“When I spoke to President Zelensky I said, What would you say to people who are considering supporting Ukraine but haven’t taken the next, critical step?

“The first thing he said was, You’re much more courageous than you think you are.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival | Photo: Slavomír Kubeš,  ČTK

“And we know that, from what we’ve been through as a nation, each and every one of us – as Americans, as Czechs, as Italians – we are courageous, each and every one of us.

“The other thing is: It’s better to deal with this now before it becomes knocking at our doors.”

Festivals such as Karlovy Vary are now faced with the question of whether to invite Russia films and directors.

For his part, Schreiber said he was uncomfortable with the idea of cultural boycotts.

Ukrainian soldiers | Photo: Vadim Kovalyov,  Ministry of Defense of Ukraine,  Flickr,   CC BY-SA 2.0

“Everybody always asks me why I think Ukraine is going to win, because I believe that they are going to come out of this, eventually, on the right side of history.

“And I believe that’s because they have the truth on their side.

“I think what’s in play right now is the truth. Misinformation has become a dangerous new idea.

“This is something that Putin is counting on: chaos and misinformation.

Liev Schreiber | Photo: René Volfík,  Czech Radio

“So we do have to be careful with media, and we do have to be careful with what we consume.

“But the idea of ever censoring or boycotting artists is something that’s hard for me, and I feel challenged by it.

“Certainly one of the things that I love about being in the arts is the idea that if it’s true it’s worth knowing.

“So I think we have to be very careful about the media coming out of Russia, since it’s so state-controlled, or the film or the art, for that matter.

“There’s a lot of propaganda coming out of Russia right now.”