Kirill Serebrennikov, the prominent Russian filmmaker behind The Student and Leto, has been found guilty of criminal fraud by a Moscow court after a controversial trial.
Supporters of Serebrennikov claim the decision is politically motivated. Yesterday, the European Film Awards published a statement backed by numerous film lobbying bodies that called for the immediate dropping of charges and said they were “a thinly veiled way to retaliate against Serebrennikov for his political criticism”.
The director will be sentenced later today (June 26). Prosecutors have called for a six-year prison sentence and similar terms for his co-defendants, Sofia Apfelbaum, Alexei Malobrodsky, and Yuri Itin.
The charges relate to Serebrennikov’s role as the artistic director of the Gogol Center in Moscow, which he has turned into a prominent cultural center. The prosecution claim that the four defendants embezzled some 129 million rubles (€1.66 million) for a performing arts project called Platform, which received state funding. The state claims that Platform shows did not take place, a fact strongly refuted by the defence.
Serebrennikov appeared in court sporting a COVID face mask and sunglasses (see above) to hear the decision.
Alongside being a leading theater director, Serebrennikov has directed numerous features. His last two, The Student and Leto, both premiered at Cannes, with the latter playing in the prestigious Competition program. The director’s next feature, Petrov’s Flu, about a comic book artist suffering from the flu, was expected to debut on the Croisette this year before the fest was cancelled due to the pandemic; Deadline understand it is likely to wait for the French event’s 2021 edition instead.
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