Cold War Gay Love Story Bird of Firefollowing a real-life affair between a Soviet soldier and a fighter pilot, hits Australian cinemas this month.
The film is based on a true story and is being marketed as Vladimir Putin’s “least favorite film” ahead of its release in Australia on May 17.
Sergey (Tom Prior) is a troubled young soldier who counts the days until the end of his military service.
But her life is turned upside down when fighter pilot Roman (Oleg Zagorodnii) arrives at the base.
Sergey and Roman navigate a precarious line between love and friendship as a dangerous love triangle forms between them and their colleague Luisa, the base commander’s secretary.
Roman is confronted by his superiors, who have been notified of the affair.
If they catch him, he will lose his career and spend five years in a forced labor camp.
As the walls close in, men risk their freedom and their lives under the all-seeing Soviet regime.
A Ukrainian actor caught in the Russian invasion
British actor Tom Prior plays the role of Sergey Fetisov, who was a real soldier. In the film, Ukrainian actor Oleg Zagorodnii plays Roman (both pictured above).
Zagorodnii lives in Kyiv as his fellow Ukrainians fight for freedom from Russian invasion.
“Putin’s Russia is the same as the Soviet Union,” the actor said in a video message at the UK premiere of Firebird.
“Because in Putin’s Russia [people] don’t have the opportunity to be themselves.
“In my country today, Ukraine, we are fighting for our freedom [and] our luck to be Ukrainian [and be] ourselves.”
Firebird screening in Russia sparks angry protests
Director Peeter Rebane said Firebird was a “labor of love” that took him years to get to the screen.
A colleague gave Rebane a copy of the book the film is based on, Roman’s story of Sergey Fetisov, the main character of the film.
“I read the story over the weekend and it brought me to tears,” Rebane said.
“It’s such a tragic, yet compelling story.”
He quickly decided that he wanted to adapt it to the cinema. This is Rebane’s first feature film.
Rebane said the project was difficult, with a complex love story and many period details that they wanted to correct.
He said the two men’s story was also “very unique” as he had “never seen a movie about such forbidden love in the Soviet army” before.
To the surprise of the filmmakers, the Moscow International Film Festival in Russia accepted the film last month. But the screening sparked outrage and anger from anti-gay protesters at the theatre.
“Whatever your race, religion or sexuality, it’s love that matters,” Rebane said.
“I had no intention of making a political film.
“I wanted to tell the story of three people, living their lives in an authoritarian and hostile society, trying to find love despite the odds against them.”
Bird of Fire opens in select Australian cinemas on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). Watch the trailer below:
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