Leto [Summer] (2018)

Director: Kirill Serebrennikov
Writer: Michael Idov, Lili Idova, Ivan Kapitonov, Kirill Serebrennikov
Based on: Natalya Naumenko’s memoir
Cast:Teo Yoo, Irina Starshenbaum, Roman Bilyk, Aleksandr Kuznetsov
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 30.10.2018

1980 in Russia. Despite severe censorship of music and concerts, Viktor Tsoy (Teo Yoo) dreams of becoming a rock star like Mike Naumenko (Roman Bilyk). When he gets to meet Mike and plays for him and his wife Natalya (Irina Starshenbaum), Mike sees his talent and decides to take him under his wing, soon giving him first successes. Viktor is very much taken with Mike, and soon with Natalya, too.

I don’t know much about Russian punk and of the bands who are portrayed in the film here, I only new Kino a little (Bezdelnik is a great song), but even so, I enjoyed Leto a lot – in fact, much more than I thought it would. It gives us a look at a relationship between two men that is allowed to be much more complex than the usual portrayal of them in film. But that is not all.

The film poster showing Mike Naumenko (Roman Bilyk), Natalya Naumenko (Irina Starshenbaum) and Viktor Tsoy (Teo Yoo) in black and white with yellow graphic elements.
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Myórtvyjye dúshi [Dead Souls]

Myórtvyjye dúshi
Director: Kirill Serebrennikov
Writer: Kirill Serebrennikov
Based on: Nikolai Gogol‘s novel
Cast: Odin Biron, Oleg Gushtshin, Ilya Kovrishnikh, Anton Kukushkin, Nikita Kukushkin, Andrey Poliakoy, Yevgeny Sangadshiev, Sergey Sosnovsky, Semyon Steinberg, Mikhail Troinik, Anton Vassilyev
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 20.5.2015

Tax official Chichikov comes to a small town in the middle of nowhere and he has a mission there: to acquire as many ‘dead souls’ for as little money as he possibly can. Dead souls are serfs that have died but their death has not been registered by the census yet, so their owners still pay taxes for them. It stands to reason that they would want to get rid of those souls. But why would Chichikov want them and why would he fight for them in increasingly absurd negotiations?

Dead Souls is a play full of pretty cool ideas, but unfortunately none of them really come to life and you’re settled with a play that is over two hours long and doesn’t have any breaks which ends up just being exhausting, nothing else.

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