‘Firebird’ Is Based On True Story Of Forbidden Love On Soviet Air Base

Tom Prior as Sergey and Oleg Zagorodnii as Roman (photo: Herrki-Erich Merila – courtesy Roadside Attractions)

Based on a true story during the Cold War, the upcoming love story, Firebird, follows a handsome, young soldier who embarks on a clandestine sexual affair with a charismatic fighter pilot on a Soviet Air Force Base at the height of 1970’s Communist rule.

Sergey (Tom Prior), a young soldier who dreams of becoming an actor in Moscow, is counting the days until his military service ends. His life is turned upside down when he encounters Roman (Oleg Zagorodnii), a handsome fighter pilot newly-assigned to his base.


Unable to deny their attraction, Sergey and Roman navigate the precarious line between love and friendship at a time when Soviet men in uniform caught having a sexual affair was met with the severest punishment.

As their friendship grows into love, the men risk their freedom and their lives to be together in the face of an all-seeing Soviet regime.

Roadside Flix released this new trailer for the film today.


Prior and the film’s director, Peeter Rebane, co-wrote the screenplay based on the true story of Sergey Fetisov, who had penned his memoir, A Tale about Roman.

Rebane, who is gay, makes his feature film directorial debut with Firebird. He’s previously directed music videos for the Pet Shop Boys and Moby.

When the film had its world premiere last March at the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, Rebane shared, “Firebird is a touching and personal film for me, having grown up in Soviet-occupied Estonia, near the air force base where this true story took place.” 

He added that he was deeply fascinated by the true, forbidden love story and how “they risked everything, even their lives, in order to be together with the one you love.”

Tom Prior and Oleg Zagorondnii in Firebird (photo: Herrki-Erich Merila – courtesy Roadside Attractions)

Following its UK premiere, Attitude Magazine praised the film as “Brokeback Mountain meets Tom of Finland,” highlighting the movie’s “thoughtful dialogue” and tasteful “beautifully lit” sex scenes.

The film went on to screen at more than 40 film festivals around the world including Frameline: San Francisco LGBTQ+ Film Festival, where it scored an honorable mention for Best First Feature.

Firebird is scheduled for theatrical release April 29, 2022. Check the official website for more info.


Last year, the producers released a scene from the film showing the romantic tension building between the two men as they hid from armed soldiers in the woods.



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