Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov speaks during a press conference for the film Tchaikovsky s Wife (Zhena Chaikovskogo) at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 19, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
"No to war," he said after his latest movie premiered at the festival. "I am totally convinced that culture and people of culture can help ensure that this war ends."
He added: "We need to tell ourselves that it will end one day and we will be able to live in peace."
Serebrennikov, 52, missed last year's Cannes festival because of a travel ban after being found guilty in 2020 of embezzling funds at Moscow's Gogol Centre theatre.
He was only allowed to leave Russia six weeks ago, and now lives in Berlin.
His film "Tchaikovsky's Wife" is among 21 entries in the Cannes festival's main competition vying for the Palme d'Or, and received a standing ovation at its official premiere at the festival.
The movie tells the story of the Russian composer's marriage to Antonina Miliukova that is doomed as soon as it becomes clear that Tchaikovsky, who was gay, has no interest in the relationship with her.
Asked on arrival at the screening whether the film was political, Serebrennikov said that "all art, especially today, is kind of politics".
He added: "Our political statement is about art, about freedom, and of course the fragility of human nature".
In a further reference to the Ukraine war, Serebrennikov said that "war kills people, art is always about how vulnerable life is, and how important it is to save each life".
Serebrennikov praised the Cannes festival for allowing Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to make a surprise video address at the opening ceremony on Tuesday.
"That is a very special statement by the festival," the director said. "It means that it is not removed from reality, and that is very important."