The phoenix rises: Peeter Rebane on Firebird | Intellect Skip to content
Making Monsters
  • ISSN: 1753-6421
  • E-ISSN: 1753-643X


In this interview, writer – director Peeter Rebane and I discuss his feature (2021). Set during the Cold War, the film centres on the real-life Sergey Fetisov’s (the film’s co-writer Tom Prior), Roman’s (Oleg Zagorodnii) and Luisa’s (Diana Pozharskaya) love triangle, exploring the decisions they make and their attendant consequences. Rebane and I examine the challenges of filming some extraordinary material – from underwater shots of the young Sergey (Romek Uibopuu) and Dima (Gregory Kibus) to shots of dozens and dozens of people seated in a concert hall, and from flying sequences to theatre ones – on an independent film budget, and how Rebane has retained integrity to the project without making compromises. We attend to the story on which was based; Rebane’s and Prior’s fidelity to their source material; how they expanded it to show, more prominently, the social and political context in which it is set; and how they altered Luisa’s character to show her perspective. We discuss Rebane’s extensive research into and recreation of the film’s world, which includes meeting with the real-life Sergey, to whom it is dedicated; casting it; and studying documentaries and photos to create costumes for its many actors and extras. Finally, Rebane and I explore the process of distributing during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has included screening the film at numerous events worldwide. This interview provides insight into both the making and the distribution of this ambitious film adaptation.

This study was supported by the:
  • Insight Development

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  1. Ue, Tom. ( 2023;), ‘ The phoenix rises: Peeter Rebane on Firebird. ’, Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance, Special Issue: ‘Making Monsters’, 16:1&2, pp. 1617,
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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): adaptation; Cold War; Estonia; love triangle; romance; Russia; Sergey Fetisov; Tom Prior
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