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Summer – Festival de Cannes In Competition Prospectus

Leto / Summer

Kirill Serebrennikov – Russia

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Kirill Serebrennikov’s latest film is punk movie-musical called Leto, fond tribute to the underground scene in Leningrad, and to the young people in it, who were immersed in music coming from the West but stuck living in the strictures of Soviet Russia. Focusing on a trio of characters: rocker Mike (Roman Bilyk), his wife Natasha (Irina Starshenbaum), and Viktor (Teo Yoo), who play music and party together, as they try to find a way to rebel against the constraints of Soviet Russia. Sadly the film’s director is unable to attend Cannes, as he is currently under house arrest for his candid views on Vladimir Putin, LGBTQ rights, and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. (by Bianca Garner)


“Leto is based in part on the early career of Russian rock pioneer Viktor Tsoi, although it’s not at all necessary to know that. It’s not even necessary to be familiar with the music of the Western bands referenced, although most viewers will be. In fact, greater knowledge may get in the way of allowing this film’s melodic, danceable tunes to stand on their own in the context of the story.” – – – – – Barbara Scharres,

“Despite being overlong and aimless in terms of storytelling, the film boasts several superbly choreographed musical numbers that play as day-dreams to an otherwise grim reality. The sequences are constructed as La La Land in the Soviet Union, capturing the dreamy nature of musicians who have a lot to say in their music but are frustrated with harsh realities.” – – – – – Mina Takla, Awards Watch

“In Leto, his sprawling, chaotically shaped ode to the underground Leningrad rock scene of the 1980s, gifted Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov only sporadically finds the sweet spot, landing on stray moments of both human tenderness and musical euphoria in a bemusing blizzard of assorted characters, styles and songs that often tips over into outright kitsch.” – – – – – Guy Lodge, Variety


Without blowing the waves of Cannes across the great festival, Leto brought some real embrace to the proceedings. Audiences were refreshed and somewhat smitten with the movie. Seemingly favoring the art and ambiance of the music scene over a powerful narrative, the film gave critics a bit of get up and go, without having screams for the Palme d’or. Though maybe an absent Best Director prize for Kirill Serebrennikov.

Being shown early in the festival perhaps appears to suggest this may well get forgotten. Not always the case, though the competition since has certainly bulked up. So when the jury do go back and re-read their notes, Leto will be too low down the pecking order to be a strong contender. It will go down at the very least as a poignant celebration of music captured on film, and a show of solidarity for the film’s director Kirill Serebrennikov, hopefully watching from afar.


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