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Cannes 2018

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Serebrennikov's The Summer celebrates Leningrad's 80s rock-music poets

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Actors Teo Yoo, Roman Bilyk and Irina Starshenbaum at the 'Leto' screening on 9 May 2018 in Cannes Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Russian stage director and film maker Kirill Serebrennikov's latest film Leto premièred at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday. The Summer, its international title, is one of the 21 films competing for the Golden Palm Award.
 


Kirill Serebrennikov's film, Leto (The Summer) revisits the 1980s in Leningrad in Soviet Russia. It is a film about rock music, love and friendship.

Young musicians model themselves on western so-called 'enemy artists' like the Sex Pistols, Blondie, Lou Reed or David Bowie. The records, which inspire them, are illegally trafficked.

The two main actors play pop music stars of the period. Mike (Roma Zver) is already an established rock star who becomes increasingly bold.

The character is based on real-life singer-songwriter Mike Naumenko who was the lead vocalist in a group called Zoopark. Viktor Tsoi (Theo Yoo) arrives on the scene. He too is inspired from a musician who was one of the founders of a group called Kino. The band is considered one of the pioneers of rock music in Russia.

Of Korean descent, Yoo was born in Germany. He says Tsoi wasn't yet famous in Russia when the film takes place.

"We're dealing with the period of his life where he wasn't known yet, so my interpretation was more naive but also pure, more poetic and more melancholic character."

In spite of the restrictions imposed on the director by the Russian authorities towards the end of the film production, his producers say he was able to edit the film at home.

Ilya Stewart, one of the producers told the short story of how the film was finished: "Kirill found a way to edit at home without breaking the conditions of his house arrest. He did it himself. For us as producers it was crucial for this to remain an author's film," he said.

Serebrennikov has used his artistry and visual effects to make a film which is also about the potential of youth and freedom. It describes a period of palpable change in the Soviet Union, which finally fell apart in 1991.