The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) has urged organisers of the Academy Awards to “review the eligibility” of the Top Gun sequel for this year’s ceremony, due to the film’s alleged ties to a Russian oligarch.
Top Gun: Maverick, which sees star Tom Cruise return to the skies more than 30 years on from the original, is up for best picture at this year’s Oscars, as well as five other awards including film editing and visual effects.
Just a few days before the ceremony on Sunday, the UWC has published an open letter online calling on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to be “vigilant” against “any attempts to influence Hollywood and American society”.
It comes after a recent report by the Los Angeles Times which detailed the film’s alleged funding ties to Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch who has been sanctioned by Ukraine.
According to the UWC, Mr Rybolovlev’s involvement with the film “was not publicly disclosed”. The organisation said there is “good reason to believe that his involvement may have led to censorship on behalf of the Kremlin”.
It continued: “Contrary to the original film, Top Gun: Maverick makes no direct or indirect reference to Russia. This is hardly a coincidence.”
The UWC’s letter, which is addressed to Academy president Janet Yang and members of the board of governors, calls for “appropriate action” against films with Russian involvement.
“Ukrainians and friends of Ukraine around the world are grateful to the Academy for its long-standing support of Ukraine,” the letter said.
“We were moved by the moment of silence showing solidarity with Ukraine at last year’s Academy Awards and by the various tributes made by Academy members.
“As they enter the second year of defending the families against Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainians are grateful to receive this important support from such a high-profile and influential institution.”
The letter went on to detail the UWC’s “serious concerns” over Russian influence in Hollywood.
The UWC called for the Academy to “explicitly reject films with any direct or indirect investments by Russian oligarchs or other enablers of Russia’s genocidal war on Ukraine”.
It said the eligibility of the blockbuster Top Gun sequel should be reviewed and that a “strong statement” should be issued by the Academy condemning the war.
The letter was signed by the UWC president Paul Grod, who concluded: “Together we can make a difference to stop Russia’s war crimes against the Ukrainian people.”
Sky News has contacted the Academy and Top Gun: Maverick production company Paramount Pictures for comment.
You can watch the Academy Awards on Sunday 12 March from 11pm exclusively on Sky News and Sky Showcase. And for everything you need to know ahead of the ceremony, don’t miss our special Backstage podcast available on Friday morning, plus a winners special episode from Monday morning