07 March 2023

Ukraine calls on Academy to review Top Gun: Maverick’s Oscars eligibility

07 March 2023

The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) has called on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to “review the eligibility” of Top Gun: Maverick for this year’s Oscars, due to the film’s alleged ties with a Russian oligarch.

In an open letter published online on Tuesday, the UWC urged the organisation to be “vigilant” against “any attempts to influence Hollywood and American society”.

It comes less than a week before the 95th Academy Awards, which are due to take place on March 12.

There is good reason to believe that his involvement may have led to censorship on behalf of the Kremlin

Among this year’s nominees is Tom Cruise’s blockbuster sequel, which has earned six Oscar nods, including one for best picture.

A recent report by the Los Angeles Times detailed the film’s alleged funding ties to Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch who has been sanctioned by Ukraine.

According to the UWC, Mr Rybolovlev’s involvement with the film was not publicly disclosed.

“There is good reason to believe that his involvement may have led to censorship on behalf of the Kremlin,” the organisation said, noting that unlike the first Top Gun film, no direct or indirect reference to Russia is made.

In a letter addressed to Academy president Janet Yang and members of the board of governors, the UWC called for “appropriate action” against films with Russian involvement.

“Ukrainians and friends of Ukraine around the world are grateful to the Academy for its long-standing support of Ukraine,” the letter said.

“We were moved by the moment of silence showing solidarity with Ukraine at last year’s Academy Awards and by the various tributes made by Academy members.

“As they enter the second year of defending the families against Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainians are grateful to receive this important support from such a high-profile and influential institution.”

The letter went on to detail the UWC’s “serious concerns” over Russian influence in Hollywood.

“Rybolovlev’s funding of Top Gun: Maverick was not publicly disclosed and there is good reason to believe that his involvement may have led to censorship on behalf of the Kremlin,” the letter said.

“Contrary to the original film, Top Gun: Maverick makes no direct or indirect reference to Russia. This is hardly a coincidence.

“Hollywood must be vigilant and transparent of Russian money being used to further pro-Kremlin censorship.”

The UWC called for the Academy to “explicitly reject films with any direct or indirect investments by Russian oligarchs or other enablers of Russia’s genocidal war on Ukraine”.

It also said the eligibility of Top Gun: Maverick should be reviewed and a “strong statement” should be issued by the Academy at the ceremony condemning the war.

“Together we can make a difference to stop Russia’s war crimes against the Ukrainian people,” said the letter, signed by UWC president Paul Grod.

The Academy has been contacted for comment.

The 95th Academy Awards are due to take place on March 12 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

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