A snapshot of youthful rebellion in the Russian underground music scene set during one summer in 1980s Leningrad. The provocative director was recently released after 20 months under house arrest.
Director Kirill Serebrennikov charts the rise to fame of the late Soviet rock pioneer Viktor Tsoi (played by Teo Yoo) in Leto [Summer], a freewheeling snapshot of youthful rebellion in the underground scene of 1980s Leningrad. Set to a soundtrack of classics from David Bowie to The Sex Pistols, and filmed in stunning black-and-white, Leto is a rock n’ roll musical like no other.
With Serebrennikov until recently detained under house arrest in Moscow, it is a comment on Russian state censorship of the arts that could not be more timely.
The New York Times on 8 April 2019: Russia Frees Director After Nearly 20 Months of House Arrest ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — A renowned Russian director was released on Monday by a court in Moscow after nearly 20 months of house arrest, in a financial fraud case that is widely seen by Russia’s intelligentsia as a test for artistic freedom…Kirill Serebrennikov, one of Russia’s leading stage and film directors, had been imprisoned in his apartment since August, 2017, after Russian investigators accused him of conspiring with three of his colleagues to embezzle 133 million rubles, or around $2 million, of government funds allocated to a theater festival…For many in Russia’s arts community, the charges were politically motivated and meant to punish Mr. Serebrennikov for his provocative work. The director is known for taboo-breaking productions that sit awkwardly with the traditional family values Russia’s government promotes, and which often make thinly veiled criticisms of life under President Vladimir V. Putin…Supporters saw the case against him as an attack on freedom of expression that signaled Mr. Putin’s determination to bring the arts to heel. – Click here to read the entire New York Times article.
A look back at Leningrad’s underground garage-rock scene is one gorgeous, grungy, achingly sad memory piece…The fact that Serebrennikov has made such an intoxicating, invigorating movie about freedom percolating under a past toxic regime while having his own rights trampled upon in the present makes the look back that much more ironic. But it doesn’t dilute the joy of experiencing it, one three-chords-and-the-truth number at a time. – Rolling Stone ★★★★
A vibrant portrait of Leningrad’s underground ’80s rock scene… lovely, wistful, sometimes confusing and often captivating memory piece. – The Los Angeles Times
Russia, 2018 | Language: Russian, English | 126 minutes | Cert: CLUB
Director: Kirill Serebrennikov
Cast: Teo Yoo, Irina Starshenbaum, Roman Bilyk