Leto pays tribute to the early years of Russian rock. In a new clip from the film, a new take on Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” is presented, while cast members on a bus take turns singing the lines. There’s subtle touches of animation and an awkward feeling that is tough to escape. Avant-garde Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov has truly crafted something original here and it needs to be seen to be completely understood.
Kirill Serebrennikov (The Student) returns to the big-screen with Leto, which is a tribute to the early years of Russian rock. The movie takes place in Leningrad, in the summer, during the early eighties. Smuggling LP’s by Lou Reed and David Bowie, the underground rock scene is boiling ahead of the Perestroika. Mike and his beautiful wife Natasha meet with young Viktor Tsoi. Together with friends, they will change the trajectory of rock n’ roll music in the Soviet Union. The movie premiered to positive reviews at Cannes last year, where it also took home the Cannes Soundtrack Award.
Leto hit a few snags along the way. Production started in July 2017 in and around the St. Petersburg area and then carried on until the end of August. It’s at this time when Kirill Serebrennikov was arrested and deported to Moscow due to fraud charges. The director was placed under house arrest. However, by February 2018, Serebrennikov was able to finish the movie without violating his probation. He was able to complete his work using a computer, which was not connected to the internet. There were only a few scenes that he was not present for and they were completed using his notes.
In addition to Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Lou Reed, Leto also features the music of T-Rex and the Velvet Underground. Underground Russian rock band Kino and other Russian bands are also featured in the movie. Kino was a pretty big for an underground band due to the fact that they released seven albums in eight years with about 90 songs. They were widely trades amongst bootleggers and music fans, serving as a prime example of the best of Russian rock music.
Leto premieres May 31st, 2019 (Los Angeles) and June 7th, 2019 (New York). Kirill Serebrennikov directed the movie from a script written by himself, Mikhail Idov, Lili Idova, Ivan Kapitonov, and Natlya Naumenko. The cast includes Teo Yoo, Irina Starshenbaum, and Roman Bilyk. Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” was written and recorded in 1977 for his landmark solo album Lust for Life. Guitarist Ricky Gardiner co-wrote the song with Pop in Berlin. Pop says that the words were written and inspired by the times he went on tour with David Bowie in the mid-1970s when Bowie was one of the biggest musicians on the planet. You can see a new take on “The Passenger” from Leto below, thanks to the Gunpowder & Sky YouTube channel.