Kirill Serebrennikov leaves Russia after travel ban

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Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov – the director of Cannes competition titles “Leto” and “Petrov’s Flu” – left the country after the end of a three-year travel ban and arrived in Paris on Sunday. He is currently in Germany where he will be based for the foreseeable future, Variety has learned.

A photo of the iconoclastic Russian filmmaker appeared on social media on Wednesday. In the photo, Serebrennikov wears a t-shirt that reads “I turn off the TV”, which alludes to the propaganda that has flooded Russian television since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Serebrennikov received a three-year suspended prison sentence in June 2020 and was also fined on bogus embezzlement charges. A Moscow court overturned the suspended sentence after questioning the filmmaker twice last week.

“The Russian government had already returned his passport to him in January so that he could go to Germany for a play, and once there he was able to obtain a visa,” said Joël Chapron, an expert on the subject. Russian film industry which is based in Paris.

Chapron said Russia’s borders are currently open as Russian President Vladimir Putin seeks to “purge” the country of artists and filmmakers who oppose the war.

Serebrennikov made a quick stop in Paris where he had a few meetings and flew to Germany, where he intends to live in the future. Last January, he directed the play “The Black Monk”, adapted from Anton Chekhov’s short story of the same name, in Hamburg and is already working on other projects, including an opera.

It’s the end of a long ordeal for Serebrennikov that began in 2017, when he was sentenced to almost 20 months of house arrest in Moscow, then found guilty of embezzling public funds allocated to a festival organized by the theater he directed. Due to being under house arrest, the filmmaker was not 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 is set to have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Produced by Hype Film, the film is distributed on international markets and co-produced by the Parisian banner Charades.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the festival said it would only ban Russian organizations and films with ties to the Russian government. Given Serebrennikov’s anti-Kremlin stance, he will likely be welcome on the Croisette.

“Tchaikovsky’s Wife”, another audacious film by the director, depicts the tumultuous relationship between Piotr 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 the Kinoprime Foundation. Good Chaos’ Mike Goodridge serves as executive producer.

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