Firebird – EPIC TRUE STORY – Directed by Peeter Rebane and based on the memoir by Sergey Fetisov, Firebird is a touching love story set in 1970s Soviet-occupied Estonia, against the backdrop of the Cold War. Sergey (Tom Prior), a young private in the Soviet Air Force is weeks away from completing his conscription. He spends his days working together with Luisa (Diana Pozharskaya), an ambitious secretary to the base commander Colonel Kuznetsov (Nicholas Woodeson). Luisa is secretly in love with Sergey, but when a maverick fighter pilot Roman (Oleg Zagorodnii) arrives at the base, both Sergey and Luisa find themselves intrigued by him.
Fresh out of flight school, Roman is desperate to prove himself. Sergey is assigned to introduce Roman to the base. They quickly discover their mutual interest in photography and theatre. Sergey fights his conflicting feelings and debates whether to pursue a friendship with Roman while Luisa finds herself increasingly attracted to the charming newcomer. But Roman’s arrival has also not been missed by KGB Major Zverev (Margus Prangel) who monitors all personnel for suspicious behavior.
On a routine trip to the Regional HQ, Roman impulsively takes Sergey to his first ballet performance, Stravinsky’s magical tale – ‘The Firebird’. On their return journey, Sergey confesses that he always wanted to be an actor, but dismisses it as a silly dream. Roman disagrees, encouraging him to follow his passion. They narrowly escape being caught by border guards as Roman spontaneously kisses Sergey.
Roman and Sergey embark on a secret love affair. Sergey now has to conceal his feelings in front of Luisa as the three of them continue to bond. Meanwhile, KGB Major Zverev receives an anonymous report implying Roman has been engaging in immoral conduct with an unnamed private. Kuznetsov and Zverev demand the private’s name and give Roman a stern warning – that a sexual relationship with a man will earn him five years in a hard-labor camp and end his career as a fighter pilot forever. Roman denies everything but ends their relationship immediately. Sergey leaves the base with a broken heart.
One year later, Sergey has settled in Moscow to pursue his career as an actor. His world is once again turned upside down with the arrival of Luisa, who tells him that she and Roman are to be married. Tormented and unable to tell Luisa about his previous affair with Roman, he dutifully attends the wedding. When they meet again, Roman denies any feelings at first, but his guard finally breaks down. Sergey believes that they can still live a secret life together in Moscow. Roman then reveals that Luisa is pregnant.
Years pass as Sergey moves on with his life, flourishing in his theatre studies. Meanwhile, Roman attempts to come to terms with his role as a father, husband, and officer. But his feelings for Sergey are impossible to repress. Finally, Roman enlists for a training course in Moscow and sets about reigniting their relationship. Risking everything, and trusting no one, can their love survive within the all-seeing Soviet regime?
The cinematography in this movie is great. The characters and the acting is also fantastic. The fact that it is based on a true story makes it all the more remarkable and tragic. Yes, it is a sad story and does not have a happy ending. But you don’t feel particularly sad at the end of the movie as it ends with a message of hope where we pick ourselves up and look toward the future.
Firebird – EPIC TRUE STORY – Peeter Rebane came across the story of Firebird seven years ago, via a copy of ‘The Story of Roman’ by Sergey Fetisov. “I read the story over the weekend, and it made me weep,” said Rebane. “This is such a tragic, yet fascinating story.” He knew right away that he had to make this movie. Taking the memoir as a starting point, Rebane collaborated on the script with actor and screenwriter Tom Prior, who is best known for his performances in The Theory of Everything (2014) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), and trained formally as an actor at the Royal Academy (RADA) in London.
Prior, who also stars in Firebird as Sergey, met Rebane in 2014, and they instantly connected to the story. “We worked extremely well together, but we brought different skills to the project,” said Rebane. “My strengths are more analytical, whereas Tom’s are rooted in feeling the truth of the moment. It was a perfect collaboration; we could develop the story so that it felt honest.”
“We live at a time when basic human rights, equality, and freedom are still under attack around the world”, said Rebane. “My goal with Firebird is to reveal how different family models have survived even in the most repressed societies, like the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Firebird is a story about accidental love, crossing the border of friendship, and searching for one’s identity in a repressive society. Now is the time to tell this true story, to foster greater respect for the universal human right: to love and be loved.”
Firebird – EPIC TRUE STORY – Firebird is produced by The Factory; which has an ethos to tell true stories with a social impact that inspires and connects audiences across the world, and No Reservations Entertainment. Filming is supported by the Estonian Film Institute through the Film Estonia cash rebate program.
ABOUT THE FACTORY
The Factory was founded by Peeter Rebane and Adam Brummond who met at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The Factory has an ethos to tell true stories. Stories that transform our consciousness, encouraging audiences to follow their bliss and passion. Stories about the beauty of life.