Limonov brought to the screen by Kirill Serebrennikov


After La Femme de Tchaïkovski (Tchaikovsky’s Wife) in 2022, this is the fourth film In Competition for the Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov. The unhappy loves of the composer of Swan Lake followed Petrov’s Flu (2021), a psychedelic journey that’s part dream and part nightmare, and Leto (2018), a film about the emergence of Soviet rock in the 1980s. Limonov – the Ballad brings the life of Limonov to the big screen, a modern dandy and militant revolutionary whose colourful life came to an end in 2020.

“Limonov is not a fictional character. He exists. I know him. He was a hoodlum in Ukraine, an idol in the Soviet underground during Brezhnev, a beggar and then valet to a billionaire in Manhattan, a hipster writer in Paris, a lost soldier in the Balkan wars…” That’s how the French writer Emmanuel Carrère described him in 2011, announcing the release of his book Limonov, a fascinating portrait of Edouard Savenko, of which Kirill Serebrennikov’s film is the adaptation.

As Serebrennikov took inspiration from Alexeï Salnikov’s hit book The Petrovs In and Around the Flu for Petrov’s Flu in 2021, the filmmaker is no stranger to adaptations. Nor is this the first time that this dissident artist has examined the life of an outsized personality, as we saw in Leto, which recounted the story of the musician and leader of the band Kino, Viktor Tsoi. When he analysed a small part of the life of the composer Tchaikovsky in 2022, it was to better capture the artist’s personality, lifting the veil on his homosexuality. A fervent defender of LGBTQ+ rights in Russia, sentenced to house arrest for two years in 2020, the filmmaker reminds us of the strength of convictions, whatever they may be, by depicting the life of the controversial Limonov, a Russian nationalist neo-punk resolutely opposed to Western diktats.