Charades, the sales company launched a year ago by former Wild Bunch, Gaumont and Studiocanal executives, has acquired “Leto,” an edgy, music-filled drama helmed by Kirill Serebrennikov, the progressive Russian filmmaker and theater director who’s been placed under house arrest by a Moscow court.
A tale of rock, love and friendship, “Leto” takes place in Leningrad over the summer of 1981, when the underground rock scene started blossoming, influenced by Western rock stars like Led Zeppelin and David Bowie. The film delivers a snapshot of this vibrant era and charts the coming of age and rise to fame of young rock singers, including Viktor Tsoi, who turned out to become a pioneer of Russian rock.
Rather than a biopic of Tsoi, “Leto” depicts the love triangle between Viktor, his mentor Mike, who is also a musician, and his beautiful wife, Natasha.
“‘Leto’ is not a political film per se, but it nevertheless has a political dimension because the boom of the music scene during the 1980s in Leningrad sparked a wind of freedom that energized the local youth,” said Pierre Mazars, who co-founded Charades with Yohann Comte and Carole Baraton.
The film is “full of rock music, concerts and some musical-like sequences in the streets of St. Petersburg,” said Jean-Felix Dealberto, sales manager at Charades.
“Leto” is being produced by Hype Film and Kinovista. It’s now in post-production and will be delivered during the second quarter of this year.
One of Russia’s most daring and prominent directors, Serebrennikov has been under house arrest since last April, as he has been accused of embezzling government funds allocated to his Platforma theater project. He faces up to 10 years in prison. The critically acclaimed filmmaker is being supported by some of Russia’s most famous actors and directors who believe Serebrennikov is being indirectly punished by the Russian government for his progressive views and the gay themes of some of his ballets, notably “Nureyev,” a ballet staged at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, about the famed dancer’s life.
Serebrennikov’s best-known films include “The Student,” which played at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2016, and “Betrayal,” which played at Venice in 2012.
Charades, which is attending Goteborg Film Festival’s industry sidebar, will start selling “Leto” at the Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market.