Packer made the revelation on the red carpet to Variety‘s Marc Malkin, who had asked him if Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy would be making an appearance.
“You have to make sure you strike a balance with a night like tonight,” Packer said. “It is about fun, it is about revelry. But we are so grateful, I think, as an industry and as a community — we certainly should be — to be able to even put on a night like this. So we certainly are going to have an acknowledgment of the tumultuous times that we’re in right now and the people of Ukraine.”
The telecast featured a moment of silence for the people of Ukraine, with viewers encouraged to support the country and its residents in any way they are able.
The Academy has been encouraged to include Zelenskyy in some way, with host Amy Schumer saying she would advocate for his inclusion and two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn threatening to “smelt” his statuettes if the Academy did not invite the leader to appear.
— Variety (@Variety) March 27, 2022
Red carpet attendees such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Diane Warren, Youn Yuh-jung and Paolo Sorrentino showed their support for Ukraine by wearing blue ribbons with the hashtag #WithRefugees on them, which is in solidarity with UN Refugee Agency.
It is expected that several honourees at the annual awards show will use their acceptance speeches to show their support for Ukraine and to speak out against the actions of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Earlier in March at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards, many took time to offer support as they took to the stage to accept awards or present them.
Actress Maria Bakalova — who won Best Supporting Actress last year for her role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm — was one of the night’s presenters, and began her speech by offering support to the nation.
Bakalova said that Ukraine is “just a few hundred miles away” from her hometown of Burgas, Bulgaria, and that she wanted to “take a moment to acknowledge the bravery of the people of Ukraine, who are defending their right to independence and democracy”.
She continued: “I truly hope that we will come together and usher in a new era of cultural and artistic exchange between Western Europe and Hollywood, which has been a foundational force of creativity in the 20th century.”
The actress added: “We see you, we stand with you and our hearts are with you.”
Billy Crystal, Michael Keaton and Hannah Waddingham also took the opportunity to stand in solidarity with the embattled region.
The entertainment industry has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in numerous ways. The big five film studios ceased film distribution in Russia, and Netflix paused all projects and acquisitions in the county. The Cannes and Toronto film festivals also barred Russian delegations from their 2022 editions.
To date, the war in Ukraine has led more than 3.7 million refugees to flee the country and killed nearly 1,000 civilians, according to the United Nations.