A new film by the enfant terrible of Russian theatre — who is under house arrest in Moscow — received a standing ovation and rave reviews on Thursday after it was shown at the Cannes film festival. The cast of Kirill Serebrennikov’s “Leto,” a fast-paced biopic of the Soviet-Korean rock legend Viktor Tsoi, were cheered as the movie premiered at the world’s top film festival. Influential US critic David Ehrlich of the IndieWire website called it “a sort of ‘24 Hour Party People’ for the early 1980s Leningrad underground rock scene.”
“Exuberant, shapeless, gorgeous long-takes galore, a ‘psycho killer’ singalong, the end of an era. I dug it,” he tweeted of the movie, which features music by Lou Reed, David Bowie and Blondie. The head of the French film board was equally ecstatic, calling it a “Russian ‘Trainspotting.’ “This is f...... Roll ‘n’ roll,” said Christophe Tardieu.
Festival director Thierry Fremaux had earlier held up a white placard with the director’s name as the cast climbed the steps of the red carpet to the cinema. A seat was left symbolically empty inside for Serebrennikov, who has been under house arrest on embezzlement charges since last August. He has dismissed the charges as “absurd” and his supporters see them as political. Serebrennikov is one of two directors competing for the Palme d’Or who has been banned from travelling to the festival. Dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi is also barred from leaving his homeland for supporting pro-democracy activists after the “stolen election” of 2009.