Open letter against “Compartment No. 6” boycott

(c) Achtung Panda


In the meantime, we have received feedback from the CineStar Group, together with an apology and the offer that they would like to reinstate the film in their programme.

We are pleased that this wrong decision has been recognised and corrected.
The cinematic power of “Compartment No. 6” can now stand on its own again and be discovered in the cinema.

Nevertheless, this event has made clear to us the necessity of having an attentive and respectful discussion about the extent to which discursive cultural spaces are endangered and how we can and should manage to remain in exchange in this day and age and not contribute to further division.
Culture connects and needs space for this.

Let’s fill it with conversations at eye level and open hearts. probably from the road

Open letter from Jamila Wenske (Producer, Achtung Panda!), Jakob Kijas (distributor, eksystent Filmverleih) and Melanie Blocksdorf (Producer, Achtung Panda!) against the CineStar Group’s decision to throw out the Finnish “Oscar” feature “Compartment No. 6” because of its Russian lead actor Yuri Borisov.

“The culture of Europe can only be a culture of man.”
Johann Gottfried von Herder

We condemn Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine. Our solidarity is with all the people suffering from this attack. As European cultural workers, we believe equally in the unifying moment of culture and film. Culture builds bridges and creates spaces of communication where others want to destroy them.

We are therefore appalled by the decision of the CineStar group to remove the Finnish film “COMPARTMENT NO 6” from its programme because of the participation of the Russian actor Yuriy Borisov. The premiere event on 30 March, in the presence of the Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen, at which he was to have been available for a film discussion, is also affected.

This decision is fatal in its magnitude in this individual case because Russian cultural creation is condemned in a generalised way – even when it takes place within the framework of a European co-production and the film has been selected as the Finnish entry for this year’s Oscars. Spaces for communication and reflection are closed or not even made possible. Out of anticipatory opportunism, a rejection is given that leads to culture being reduced to absurdity in its effectiveness. What do culture, cinema and film stand for?

It is equally frightening that a film like “Compartment No. 6” is affected, because this film, both in its production process and its artistic statement, is an example of the European idea, as well as of the power and magic that can arise when people meet and get to know each other. And have the courage to engage with each other and listen. The film manages to tell this encounter with such ease that people come out of the cinema with a feeling of joy and warmth of heart. It is a plea for togetherness and not against each other.

The fact that this film in particular and its makers are now being held hostage on behalf of Russia’s power holders only makes the decision more surreal for us, because it means that the film has fallen victim to the red pen, unseen, blind and generalising.

We oppose a general boycott of Russian artists who have offered us insights and spaces for discussion with outstanding works in the past and present. And we are in solidarity with the Russian people who are taking to the streets in today’s Russia and positioning themselves against the crime that is taking place.
Incidentally, Yuriy Borisov and the Russian co-producer Natalia Drozd-Makan have also done this. They have signed an open letter of Russian cultural workers, which clearly positions itself as “НЕТ ВОЙНЕ” (“NO TO WAR”) as well as will very likely lead to reprisals due to the current political situation.

We oppose an undifferentiated and generalising condemnation of people based on their origin and stand up for an open society in which culture and film are cornerstones of democratic communication spaces.

We hope for an early end to Russian aggression and peace for Ukraine.”

Jamila Wenske (Producer, Achtung Panda!)
Jakob Kijas (distributor, eksystent Filmverleih)
Melanie Blocksdorf (Producer, Achtung Panda!)