Oscars reject request to let Volodymyr Zelenskyy speak at 2023 ceremony, reports say

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has spoken at several awards events to rally support for his country's defensive efforts against Russia. Credit: AP

The organisers of the 2023 Oscars have blocked a request made on behalf of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to speak at this year's ceremony, according to reports.

Sources told Variety the Oscar's organisers were approached by Mike Simpson, a top power agent at major agency WME, and turned down the suggestion.

The US outlet was told Oscars producer Will Packer expressed concerns last year that Hollywood was only giving Ukraine so much attention because the people affected by the war were mainly white.

He is reported to have argued that previous wars involving people of colour hadn’t received the same attention. Neither the Academy nor Mr Parker have commented on the claims.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy appears remotely during the opening ceremony of the 75th international film festival, Cannes, in southern France. Credit: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

Mr Zelenskyy, who has not yet appeared at the Oscars, has spoken at several awards events to rally support for his country's effort to repel invading Russian soldiers.

In the past year, the comedian turned politician has made virtual appearances at the Grammy awards and Golden Globes and at film festivals such as Cannes and Berlin.

At last year's Cannes festival, the Ukrainian president pushed filmmakers not to “stay silent” over the war, as he spoke at length about the connection between cinema and reality.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy poses with Sean Penn after receiving latter's Oscar statuette and handing him the Order of Merit. Credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

Last November, Sean Penn, who was making a documentary about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, loaned one of his two Oscars to Mr Zelenskyy, telling him: “When you win, bring it back to Malibu.”

The president tweeted the Oscar was “a symbol of faith in the victory of our country.”

This year’s best documentary category includes: A House Made of Splinters, a documentary filmed before the war in Ukraine that focuses on the experience of a boy in an orphanage in the east of the country.

Crew members roll out the carpet outside the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in preparation for Sunday's 95th Academy Awards. Credit: AP

The Oscars 2023 will be held on March 12 - US time. Viewers in the UK can watch the ceremony live on Sky Showcase and streaming service NOW TV on Monday March 13 from midnight until 3am.

The Oscars red carpet was rolled out for the 2023 annual awards, only to reveal the iconic scarlet rug is actually 'Champagne' in colour this year. It is the first time The Academy have broken away from tradition since 1961, according to US TV channel ABC, and given the carpet a muted transformation.

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