Firebird is a new film which has been doing the rounds on the LGBT film festival circuit for the last year or so, garnering mostly positive reviews. It has finally had a wider release, hence why I trekked out to Cheshire Oaks last week with a voucher code in my pocket.
Set on a military base in Soviet-occupied Estonia in 1977, Firebird tells the story of Sergey (Tom Prior), a young soldier in the Soviet army, who falls for his new commanding officer Roman (Oleg Zagorodnii). The pair embark on an illicit love affair, forced to keep it secret from everyone, in an era when homosexuality is very much illegal.
The film is based on the true story of Sergey Fetisov and his memoir A Tale about Roman. Sadly the real Sergey died in 2017, but he was able to provide his input to the cast and the director, Peeter Rebane, while the film was in pre-production, and the film is dedicated to his memory.
An added poignancy came from the knowledge that Oleg Zagorodnii, who plays Sergey’s clandestine lover, Roman, is not on the promotional tour for the film. Instead, he is in his home city of Kyiv, helping to defend Ukraine from another occupation.
Firebird is a wonderful piece of work. Beautifully filmed, with great performances from the cast – Prior and Zagorodnii are excellent and utterly believable as a couple.
Disappointingly, the film seems to be only on very limited release, but it is well worth seeking out.
Also… Tom Prior. Just look at him.
Firebird is on limited release in the UK, USA and probably some other places. Go to firebirdmovie.com for tickets and showtimes. It is released on DVD on 6th June.