Almodovar, Leigh petition Putin on jailed Ukrainian Oleg Sentsov

Pedro Almodovar, Mike Leigh and others are petitioning Russia on Oleg Sentsov, the jailed Ukrainian filmmaker

A who’s who of European directors have signed a letter to Vladimir Putin and Russian leaders seeking justice for Oleg Sentsov, the Ukarainian filmmaker who was arrested by Russian authorities on May 11 and is believed held in a Moscow prison.

Pedro Almodóvar, Mike Leigh, Agnieszka Holland, Stephen Daldry, Béla Tarr and Wim Wenders were among the roughly 20 filmmakers calling for information and the potential release of the jailed director. Little is known about the fate of Sentsov, who a month ago was seized from his home in Crimea and transported to Moscow by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation.

Sentsov is behind such films as “Gaemer” and the upcoming “Rhino;” he is part of a wave of Eastern European filmmakers objecting to what they say is a repressive Russian regime.

The letter, coordinated by the trade-group the European Film Academy, implores Putin and other Russian leaders to reveal Sentsov's fate and free him if there are no legitimate charges.

“There has not been any official information about the charges brought up against him for almost three weeks," the letter read in part. “We, his undersigning European colleagues, are deeply worried and cannot stop wondering how he is and what his future will be.”

It went on to call for disclosure, Sentsov’s safety and a full measure of justice including having “ the detained charged with a recognisable offence or released” and a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the apparently arbitrary detention.”

Sentsov is an ethnic Russian who had been involved in Ukrainian democracy movement and also opposed the annexation of Crimea by Russia this year.

He is believed to have been accused of organizing terrorist activities, and some activists believe he is being held in Moscow’s infamous Lefortovo prison.

At the Cannes Film Festival last month, Ukraine's Sergi Loznitsa, a respected narrative filmmaker behind such movies as "My Joy" and "In the Fog" premiered "Maidan," an observational documentary he shot over three months in Kiev's democracy-minded square.

He then implored those seeing the movie to pray for Sentsov.

Meanwhile, the Odessa Film Festival continues plans for its annual event next month despite a lack of sponsorships in the wake of the political unrest.

Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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