Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov — the director of Cannes competition titles “Leto” and “Petrov’s Flu” — has left the country following the end of a three-year travel ban, and arrived in Paris on Sunday. He’s currently in Germany where he will be based for the foreseeable future, Variety has learned.
A picture of the iconoclastic Russian helmer popped up on social media on Wednesday. In the pic, Serebrennikov wears a T-shirt that reads “I turn the TV off,” which alludes to the propaganda flooding Russian TV since the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Serebrennikov was sentenced in June 2020 to a three-year suspended prison sentence and was also issued a fine over trumped-up charges of embezzlement. A Moscow court canceled the suspended sentence after questioning the filmmaker twice last week.
“The Russian government had already given him back his passport in January so that he could travel to Germany for a play, and once there, he was able to get a visa,” said Joel Chapron, an expert on the Russian film industry who is based in Paris.
Chapron said Russia’s borders are currently open as Russia president Vladimir Putin is looking to “purge” the country of artists and filmmakers who are opposing the war.
Serebrennikov made a quick stop to Paris where he had a couple of meetings and flew back to Germany, where he intends to live going forward. Back in January, he directed the play “The Black Monk,” adapted from Anton Chekhov’s short story by the same name, in Hambourg and is already working on more projects, including an opera.
Kirill Serebrennikov (LETO, PETROV'S FLU…) has managed to exit Russia and has arrived in France. He is currently in Paris! On his tee-shirt, one can read "I turn the TV off". Nothing would make me happier than TCHAIKOVSKY'S WIFE in competition in Cannes now! Fingers crossed. https://t.co/ONEbphV2bf
— Cédric Succivalli (@OnTheLido) March 29, 2022
It’s the end of a long ordeal for Serebrennikov which began in 2017, when he was sentenced to nearly 20 months under house arrest in Moscow and was later convicted of embezzling government funds allocated to a festival organized by the theater he used to run. Due to the fact that he was on house arrest, the filmmaker wasn’t allowed to travel to Cannes for the premiere of “Petrov’s Flu” but appeared on FaceTime to thank the festival crowd.
Serebrennikov’s latest film, “Tchaikovsky’s Wife,” is currently in post-production and expected to world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Produced by Hype Film, the movie is handled in international markets and co-produced by Paris-based banner Charades.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the festival said it will only ban Russian orgs and films with ties to the Russian government. Considering Serebrennikov’s anti-Kremlin stance, he will likely be welcomed back to the Croisette.
“Tchaikovsky’s Wife,” another daring film by the director, portrays the tumultuous relationship between Pyotr Tchaikovsky, the most famous Russian composer of all time, and his wife Antonina Miliukova. Logical Pictures (“Revenge,” “Pleasure”) and Bord Cadre Films (“Monos”) are co-producing with the support of Kinoprime Foundation. Good Chaos’s Mike Goodridge is executive producing.