New East Digital Archive

Summer loving: intimate shots from behind the scenes of the hit Viktor Tsoi biopic

11 September 2018

It was the decade that led to the collapse of the Iron Curtain, but as anywhere in the world, the 1980s in Russia was an era when big hair was a must and effortless cool was a given. Kirill Serebrennikov’s biopic Leto (Summer) — arguably the film of the season in Russia — is dedicated to the short-lived rock scene that flourished during that period, and specifically on the friendship between two legendary rock singers, Mike Naumenko and Viktor Tsoi. As Joy Neumeyer writes in The Calvert Journal, the movie is less of a music documentary and more of a poetic coming-of-age story that captures the elusive essence of pre-perestroika times. Still, the photos shot on set in St Petersburg and the surrounding area by Alex Yocu could easily be mistaken for archival snaps. The photographer commends the set designers for capturing the decade so well. He has previously worked as the in-house photographer for the Gogol Centre, where Serebrennikov is artistic director. “Working in theatre means constant action. It’s very loud and bright. You can jump on stage during rehearsals, nobody’s paying attention to you. Cinema is much more intimate. You have to work even harder to stay transparent and blend in with surroundings,” he explains. For a real look at the 80s Leningrad rock scene, check out these rare photos by Russian photographer Igor Mukhin.