The Oscars somberly interrupted their celebrations on Sunday night for a moment of silence to show their support for the people of Ukraine, urging viewers around the world to do more to help the war-torn country in this hour of need.
How the Oscars would approach Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an open question at the ceremony. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former actor, had lobbied Hollywood for an Oscar appearance.
The show’s producers, however, decided to go in a different direction. They called for a moment of silence and showed three gold text cards on a black background after Reba McEntire’s performance of “Somehow You Do,” which was nominated for Best Song.
“We would like to have a minute of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders,” reads the first card.
“While cinema is an important way for us to express our humanity in times of conflict, the reality is that millions of families in Ukraine need food, medical care, clean water and emergency services. “, we read in the second. “Resources are scarce and we, collectively and as a global community, can do more.”
“We ask you to support Ukraine in every way possible,” reads the third. “#StandWithUkraine.”
The first hint of war during the show came when Ben Proudfoot accepted the trophy for best documentary short for “The Queen of Basketball,” about Luisa Harris, the first woman officially drafted by the NBA. He recognized the player from WNBA Brittney Griner, who is currently being held in Russia, in her acceptance speech.
“President Biden, bring Brittney Griner home,” Proudfoot said.
Next is Mila Kunis, an actress from Chernivtsi, Ukraine, who was on the TV show to present the live performance of “Somehow You Do” – from “Four Good Days”, in which Kunis starred.
“Recent world events have left many of us feeling drained,” Kunis said. “Yet when you witness the strength and dignity of those who face such devastation, it is impossible not to be moved by their resilience. One can’t help but be impressed by those who find the strength to keep fighting in unimaginable darkness.
A week ago, the push to support Ukraine during the Oscars began when Kunis and her husband, actor Ashton Kutcher, spoke on a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was in Kyiv . (Zelensky wanted to thank the couple for raising $35 million in a GoFundMe campaign for Ukrainian refugees and humanitarian aid.)
After that video call, Zelensky’s aides lobbied the academy for a last-minute slot at the Oscars, which appears to have been turned down.
Two weeks ago at the Critics Choice Awards, stars like Maria Bakalova (“Borat Later Moviefilm”) and Billy Crystal (“When Harry Met Sally,” “City Slickers”) spoke about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine .
“I really hope that we will come together and usher in a new era of cultural and artistic exchange between Eastern Europe and Hollywood, which has been a fundamental force for creativity in the 20th century,” said Bakalova, originally from Bulgaria. “So I hope my message goes to the Ukrainian people: we see you. We are with you. And our hearts are with you.
Since then, the war between Ukraine and Russia has entered its second month.