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Detained Kirill Serebrennikov wins film prize

March 31, 2019

Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov has won a prestigious Nika Award for best director in Moscow, despite being under house arrest. His latest movie "Leto" ("Summer") tells the story of two Soviet rock stars.

Film still from Kirill Serebrennikov's "Leto"
Film still from Serebrennikov's "Leto"Image: picture alliance/Weltkino Filmverleih GmbH/dpa

Russian Academy of Cinema Arts and Science honored dissident director Kirill Serebrennikov at the annual Nika awards, granting him Best Direction prize for his for his drama "Leto" ("Summer").

The 49-year-old artist is under house arrest and was not able to claim his award at the weekend ceremony in Moscow.

Russian director Serebrennikov detained

"I sincerely hope this is the last time that this great artist, Kirill Serebrennikov, is unable to receive his prize in person," the film's producer, Ilya Stewart, said while accepting the golden statue of Nika, named after the Greek goddess of victory.

Serebrennikov was detained while finishing "Leto" shoots in 2017 and eventually placed under house arrest, editing the movie at his home. He has denied the accusations of embezzling state funds destined for theater productions. Many observers see the case as an attempt to intimidate the filmmaker over his irreverent portrayal of Russia and the Soviet Union.

Story of Mike, Viktor, and Natasha

"Leto" is based on a true story of two Soviet rock musicians who meet in the 1980s Leningrad, before the liberal reforms introduced by the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Serebrennikov tells the story of famous singers Mike Naumenko and Viktor Zoi, their friendship and the love triangle involving Mike's wife Natasha against the backdrop of Leningrad underground rock scene.

Film still from Kirill Serebrennikov's "Leto" (Russland)
Serebrennikov's "Leto" depicts the underground music scene in the USSRImage: K. Serebrennikow

The movie premiered at the 2018 festival in Cannes.

Serebrennikov's house arrest is set to expire in April 2019. Until then, he is forbidden from directly communicating with the outside world, and can only talk with his lawyer and his father. He also has no internet access.

The strict terms of his confinement have not halted his professional activity or prevented him from staging events outside of Russia. In March 2019, he put on a new opera in the German city of Hamburg, directing the production by exchanging filmed rehearsals and his comments via USB data sticks.

dj/kl (dpa, Interfax)

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