Based on a true story, Firebird is a meticulously researched and produced film about two young men on a military base in Soviet-occupied Estonia in the late 1970s.Sergey (Tom Prior) is a private just weeks away from discharge; Roman (Oleg Zagorodnii) is an officer and pilot, newly assigned to the base.
Their attraction is almost immediate, unfolding with a tender intimacy which is beautifully, painfully naïve to the realities of their society – both military and civilian.Tom Prior and Oleg Zagorodnii in ‘Firebird’Firebird feels like a film for the ages, but also of the times.
Not surprisingly, Russia was not too happy about the film. Tom Prior, one of the leads, told The Guardian that though the film was not “technically banned”, the tickets for its only screening in the country were cancelled and the film was “played to an empty auditorium”. “There was a complaint about it being ‘homosexual propaganda’.
We had 93 press articles written about it, all but one of which were negative. One headline translated as, ‘An Estonian, a Brit and a Ukrainian shame Moscow.’ (Zagorodnii is Ukrainian, Prior is British and the film’s director Peeter Rebane is from Estonia).