A journey into the heart of the underground music scene in Leningrad just before Perestroika, based on the early years of the legendary band Kino. With humour and guts, the band members tackle censorship, even if only in their imagination.

Please note that this film is in Russian and English, with Dutch subtitles.
Time & Tickets

Leningrad, summer 1981. The underground rock scene is booming. Amongst the followers of Led Zeppelin and Bowie, young Viktor Tsoi is eager to make a name for himself. The encounter with his idol Mike, the charismatic singer of the band Zoopark, and his beautiful wife Natasha will change his life forever.
In lush black and white, the playful rock musical LETO depicts a love triangle developing in Leningrad’s underground rock scene. The film manoeuvres through jam sessions, obsessive talk about western musicians, performances at the state-sanctioned Leningrad Rock Club, and ecstatic musical interludes featuring performances of songs by Talking Heads, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. At its heart, this is a story of musicians and the creative means they use to resist the restrictions inflicted by the state. LETO should not be seen as an expression of nostalgia for the times before Perestroika, but as a response to the repression of creativity in today’s Russia. Director Kirill Serebrennikov is currently under house arrest by the Putin government and was not allowed to attend the world premiere of his film at the Festival de Cannes.

Kirill Serebrennikov, France, Russia, 2018, 126 min. Russian & English spoken, Dutch subtitles. With Irina Starshenbaum, Teo Yoo, Roman Bilyk.

"Tusovka" is the byword for the informal character of the rock scene in Leningrad in the early 1980s. Music could be played everywhere: in rooms, basements, parks and abandoned shops. Structural opposition from the Communist Party was merely creative nourishment for the beliefs of the long-haired demigods like Mike Naumenko and Viktor Tsoi. It is their early careers that are so vividly sketched in this vibrant film.

When Gorbachev introduced his ideas of perestroika and glasnost in 1985, "tusovka" was thrown out the window. The state started sponsoring concerts and most rock stars accepted these new possibilities and big bags of money. However, it soon became apparent that these things were worthless to the counterculture spirit that had initially led them to rock music. In the 1990s, everything came to an end: the Soviet Union, but also the music that constantly counterbalanced the corrupt state.

And now? There seems to be little progress in the dominant Russian ideology. A prime example is Pussy Riot, the radical feminist punk band that is consistently persecuted by Putin and associates. This gray reality however makes LETO’s rose-coloured glasses extra pleasant (wg).

Want to know more about the political fuss surrounding LETO?