Actor Sean Penn calls for Oscar boycott if Volodymyr Zelenskyy is not allowed to appear

Hollywood is ramping up for a big night at the Oscars, as Arts Editor Nina Nannar reports from Los Angeles

The Ukrainians I meet at the Harmony Gold cinema today reckon their ex-pat community numbers 300,000 in LA.

And of late, they’ve been very vocal, holding a number of demonstrations to voice support for their home country, another one is planned for Oscars day near the site of the ceremony.

They have fittingly chosen film as the vehicle for their latest fundraising effort for their people. At the cinema they’ve been screening films from Ukraine, one The Trolleybus about the Russian annexation of Crimea.

As the city they live in now is about to hold the world's biggest celebration of film, the Oscars, they want to use the moment.

Alex Denysov and Iryna Vasylkova are both part of the Stand With Ukraine movement in LA and helped organise the screening.

Sean Penn said he will 'smelt' his two Oscars in public if the Academy does not invite Volodymyr Zelenskyy to speak at the ceremony

They are backing calls by Oscar winner Sean Penn who’s been making a documentary in Ukraine, to let President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appear in some way at the ceremony, with a message for the guests there.

Penn has called for a boycott if he is not allowed to appear - one of the show’s presenters Amy Schumer says she called for the same thing but was turned down.

Alex Denysov said Zelenskyy 'has to' be allowed to speak

Penn has even pledged to melt his two Oscar statuettes down if Zelenskyy, a former actor is not part of proceedings.

Denysov agrees that somehow, even if in a pre-recorded statement, Zelensky, a former actor should appear, and use the platform.

Iryna Vasylkova said it is 'amazing' to contemplate how Zelenskyy is rising as a politician

Iryna agrees but thinks a boycott may not be realistic. She has confidence however despite the Oscars Academy’s silence on the matter, that the President WILL somehow be part of the evening.

Even if President Zelensky is not visible on screen at the Oscars, there is every chance Ukraine will be the subject of some of the speeches from the podium.

Hollywood likes to honour its own from the film industry. And that surely includes the actor turned President of Ukraine.

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