at war

The Culture Fights Back project to share stories of artists and civil society representatives who have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In this section, you can find out more about how Ukrainian directors, actors, editors, and film producers protect their country in its most difficult time.

Oleh Sentsov

Oleh Sentsov is a Ukrainian film director, screenwriter and Euromaidan activist. He is best known for his films – Gamer (2011), Numbers (2020) and Rhino (2021) – the latter of which was awarded best film at the Stockholm International Film Festival and premiered at the Venice Film Festival. He has received the Ukrainian National Prize, as well as the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament in 2018. 

After the temporary occupation of Crimea in 2014, Oleh organized protests against Russia in his hometown of Simferopol. From 2014 to 2019, Oleh was unlawfully detained and imprisoned by Russian security forces for his political activism and pro-Ukrainian position. “Twenty years in prison is worth not bowing to a tyrant at least once,” writes Oleh in his prison diary. In the camp in Siberia he spent 145 days on a hunger strike. Oleh was released from Russian imprisonment in 2019 during a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia. In his book, Life went on Anyway: Stories, Oleh shares his experiences as a political prisoner. Alongside Ukrainian, the book has gone on to be published in German, French, English and Polish. 

When Russia escalated its invasion of Ukraine, Oleh joined the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine as a reservist volunteer and defended Kyiv during the first months of full-scale war. He now defends Bakhmut, a place at risk of total destruction due to everyday attacks by the Russian army. 

“In my opinion, the blood of killed children in Ukraine, tortured men, raped women is on the hands of every Russian. Those who did it; those who sent them here; those who supported and those who remained silent.”

Oleh Sentsov Facebook-page
Learn more about Oleh Sentsov's creations:
Rhino (2021) | Numbers (2020) | Gamer (2011)