Two Estonian films – “Goodbye, Soviet Union”, a comedy, and “Firebird”, a gay-themed thriller – will screen at the Moscow International Film Festival in Russia.
“Goodbye, Soviet Union”, directed by Lauri Randla, will be screened as part of the festival’s “Russian Trace” programme and “Firebird”, directed by Peeter Rebane, as part of the “Young and Beautiful” listing.
Barbie dolls take over from crocodile Genas
The first – an Estonian-Finnish collaboration – is a humoristic coming of age story by Randla, based on his childhood in Estonia during the last years of Soviet Union (the communist empire collapsed in 1991, when the director was ten).
“Johannes is born into an eccentric family in the Estonian Soviet Republic (Estonia’s official name, when it was illegally occupied by the Soviet Union, was the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic – editor). When his mother leaves for Finland, and he is left to be raised by his grandparents, snappy Johannes is forced to face life on his own. He falls deeply in love with his classmate, Vera, takes risks, gets into fights, and gets punished… all the while, in the background, the empire collapses. As the Lenins fall and the Barbie dolls take over, the crocodile Genas (a Soviet fictional children character) and the Moskvitches (a Soviet car) are forced to step aside, leaving the road to the West wide open,” the filmmakers of “Goodbye, Soviet Union” said of the movie.
A gay love story
“Firebird”, an Estonian-British collaboration, tells a love story set at the height of the Cold War, where a troubled soldier forms a forbidden love triangle with a daring fighter pilot and his female comrade amid the dangerous surroundings of an air base in the Soviet-occupied Estonia. The script of “Firebird”, co-written by Rebane and the film’s lead actor Tom Prior, was inspired by Russian actor Sergey Fetisov’s memoir, “The Story of Roman”.
The movie recently had its premiere at the London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival. “What begins as a friendship across the ranks soon transforms into something riskier in feature debut director Peeter Rebane’s lavishly orchestrated and beautifully realised account of love’s flourishing against all odds, based on a true story,” the film festival said in a statement prior to the premiere.
One of the oldest film festivals
The Moscow International Film Festival is one of the oldest in the world. It traces its history back to 1935, with director Sergei Eisenstein (“Battleship Potemkin”) as chairman of the jury; the festival became regular in 1959. This year’s festival will take place from 22-29 April across the cinemas in Moscow, the capital of Russia.
Cover: A still from “Goodbye Soviet Union”.