TORONTO - Two of Canada's top arts groups are calling on Russia to release an incarcerated Ukrainian filmmaker who has been on a hunger strike for 34 days demanding the release of Ukrainian prisoners in Russia.

Luminato and the Toronto International Film Festival issued a joint statement Saturday in partnership with Belarus Free Theatre co-founder Natalia Kaliada calling for the release of Oleg Sentsov.

Sentsov, a vocal opponent of Russia's annexation of his native Crimea, was convicted of conspiracy to commit terror attacks by a Russian military court in 2015 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The case against him was largely seen as a retribution for his views, and Ukrainian authorities and art circles have mounted a worldwide campaign for his release.

Sentsov's lawyer Dmitry Dinze told the Meduza website last month that the filmmaker wrote a note to the prison's chief, vowing to stick to his hunger strike until Russia releases all of its Ukrainian political prisoners.

Sentsov's story is told in the Belarus Free Theatre's play “Burning Doors,” which will be in Toronto next week as part of Luminato.