The Petrovs are an average family living in the peaceful city of Yekaterinburg in post-Soviet Russia. They follow their daily regimens with quiet consistency but beneath this layer of the ordinary, things turn out to be quite extraordinary.

Director's Statement

PETROV'S FLU is a story about a family; about a man who creates his own universe; about the relationship between real and imaginary worlds.

It is the adaptation of a cult novel by Alexey Salnikov, that received several literary prizes in Russia.
The story is built on chapters that follow Petrov or his wife Petrova. Within this structure, interludes and digressive sequences show us episodes from Petrov’s childhood or stories about people surrounding him. The audience wanders inside the story, just like Petrov does, through a disease that is much more interesting than a common flu.
PETROV'S FLU is a story about helplessness, repressed ambitions and broken people. The key accent of the film, however, could be demonstrated through the emotions and feelings of the characters, rather than particular events occurring within its narrative. I would like to engage the audience by portraying the actual atmosphere of the post-Soviet Russia at the time when people were tired of grand illusions.

My main aim was to portray the working class in its natural environment during the post-Soviet period. I wanted to focus on the balance between the narration and the stylistic conventions I was aiming to reach.

I am not trying to develop a separate personality in the character but rather to create a type of living, a model of being in his protagonists, who form the type of population, a psychological portrait as a group. There are moments in the film, when we see the characters apart from each other, so we can learn more about them as separate people. These scenes show us a collective group’s desire to be separate individuals with distinct lives. We see them bursting into their fantasies and becoming someone different, hence fulfilling their suppressed desires and to escape their reality.
Touching upon the cinematic techniques, one of the limits of a particular kind of art films is that sometimes one is too careless about the surface credibility of the films. For me, cinematic spectacle is what is most important. The most frequent language in the film I allude to is the language of painting. Taking that into consideration, one sees a very carefully constructed mise-en-scene in the film, which leaves a space for imagination.

The characters condition may stem from an underdeveloped individuality and the fact that none of them can form significant, lasting personalities. They show impulsiveness, seem unable to lead an individual life and would never be happy in the current state of living. This “pack” mentality is probably another technique devised to escape personal responsibility.

About halfway through the film we find out that Petrova is nothing but a figment of Petrov’s imagination. We recognise this thanks to small details (ie. we only see one toothbrush in Petrov’s bathroom). We also see comic books pages hanging on the wall, allowing us to understand that the scenes with fantasy elements are not real. One of the comics will be of his “wife”, Petrova, screaming in the bathroom.

I would argue that the characteristics of the protagonists serve as a warning against the lazy, dependent male archetype, encouraging people to act and have an active position in life. More importantly, this narration about immature men is surrounded by the atmosphere of a post-Soviet Russian town and Alexey Salkinov’s views, as well as my own, on the ongoing situation in our motherland.

Characters from that transitional post-Soviet period no longer care to protest against a bourgeois world or a boring existence. They’d rather crave for humanity and understanding from those who are also suffering, wandering and leading an unsettling life.

PETROV'S FLU has an escapist-rebellious spirit. Paradox: it is full of romantic illusions and also realistically assesses the true reality.

Director's Biography

Born in 1969 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Russian theatre, television and film director Kirill Serebrennikov has been the Artistic Director of the Gogol Centre since 2012. He staged his first play when he was still a student. In 1992, he graduated from the Rostov State University physics department with honors. In 2008, he formed an experimental actor- director class at the Moscow Art Theatre School. In 2012, the class becomes the Studio Seven, which is now a Gogol Center full-time resident.
In 2016, Kirill’s film THE STUDENT had its world premiere as part of Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, going on to receive the Francois Chalais prize. In 2018 his film LETO was a part of the official selection at the same festival. It got a world-wide recognition and was distributed to more than 30 countries.

2018 - LETO

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Kirill Serebrennikov

Written by: Kirill Serebrennikov

Produced by: Ilya Stewart

Cinematography: Vladislav Opelyants

Editing: Yury Karikh

Production Design: Vladislav Ogay

Costume Design: Tatyana Dolmatovskaya

Original Score: Aydar Salahov, Prima Intrada, Andrey Polyakov

Sound: Boris Voyt

Main Cast: Semyon Serzin (Petrov), Chulpan Khamatova (Petrova), Yuri Kolokolnikov (Igor), Ivan Dorn (Sergey), Yulia Peresild (Marina/Snow Maiden), Yuriy Borisov (Father Frost)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2021