Film director Serebrennikov shows surprise after being allowed to leave Russia

Famed Russian theater and film director Kirill Serebrennikov said on Friday he was surprised to be allowed to go on a short trip to Germany and said he did not know why the government lifted the ban on leaving the country.

“Perhaps I behaved well,” the terrible child of the Russian theater said ironically at a conference at the Thalia theater in Hamburg (north), where he is staging the play “The Black Monk” based on the fantastic tale by Anton Chekhov.

The director, who arrived in Germany on Monday, specified that he will return to Russia on January 22, the night of the premiere of his piece.

“We presented the official request to the authorities asking them to be able to travel to Hamburg. And they gave us the authorization for this project,” he added.

“I don’t know anything” about what motivated this decision, he said, after receiving several rejections in the past for other projects.

The director was unable to be present at the Cannes Film Festival in July, where his film “Petrov’s Fever” was listed for the Palme d’Or.

Serebrennikov assured that he will return to his country. “I must return because I promised,” he said in Hamburg.

Known for his daring creations, his support for the LGBT+ movement and his criticism of the authoritarianism of Vladimir Putin’s government, the 52-year-old artist is prohibited from leaving Russian territory after being convicted of embezzling funds.

His problems with the law began in August 2017, when he was filming “Leto”, and he was arrested by the police and accused of diversion of public funds.

For his defenders, this audacious artist, who once had the favors of power, is punished for his rebellion.

For a year and a half he was under house arrest, without access to the internet or the telephone. He received and sent messages through his lawyers on USB sticks with videos of the rehearsals of his shows, and thus he staged an opera in Hamburg.

In June 2020, he was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison sentence and was prohibited from leaving the country during this time.

In February 2021, the Moscow mayor fired him from the Gogol Center.

The director told AFP that Russia is his country. “I love her very much and I have many friends. My dreams are always in Russia,” he said.

Despite her difficulties, she said she has always felt free.

“Being free is part of my job. It is impossible to work in art or theater without freedom. Otherwise it is propaganda or something else,” he said.

“We carry our freedom within us. It is not something that is received from abroad,” he added.

fec-ilp / eg / an

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