Sergey Fetisov was a force for love. A prominent theatre and film actor in Russia, he never shied away from challenging roles. But it was acts of courage and service that he is most remembered for. From turning down major roles to care for his ailing mother to falling in love with an airman while serving as a soldier in the Soviet Air Force, Fetisov’s unwavering commitment to follow his heart is a shining testament to the power of love.
In 2017, Fetisov passed away, but his remarkable story did not die with him. First published in the early 1990’s under a pseudonym and the title The Story of Roman, Fetisov’s memoir found its way to film director Peeter Rebane. With the help of scriptwriter Tom Prior, Rebane brought the orginial memoir to life in the major motion picture Firebird. Sergey’s story takes on another iteration in the form of a republished and renamed book. “It is our wish to uplift queer voices to ensure they are heard by as many people around the world. Sharing first-hand memoirs like Sergey’s is one of the most powerful ways to support and incite positive change,” Rebane and Prior said.
Firebird is the remarkable, true love story about a handsome, soulful soldier and a daring fighter pilot stationed at a Soviet Air Force Base in occupied Estonia, at the height of the Cold War. Living as a gay man in Soviet Russia was a risk, but for Sergey, it was a risk worth taking. Despite the dangers of the oppressive Soviet government, he chose to live his truth and in doing so, inspired hope for LBGTQ+ equality. “We live at a time when basic human rights, equality and freedom are once again under attack around the world. Same-sex families are still illegal or discriminated against in many countries, including modern-day Russia,” Firebird director Peeter Rebane said. “I trust that telling Sergey’s true story helps people to understand others who are different from them, to realize that love is love, or as Sergey said, ‘my love was no less than your love.’.”
About the Author
Sergey Fetisov (1952-2017) was born in Oryol, Soviet Russia and graduated as an actor from Moscow’s prestigious GITIS institute. In addition to an extensive theatre career, he acted in over 40 Soviet and later Russian films and TV series, including the Estonian feature film Georg (2007). He was one of the founding members of the “Russian Style Theatre” in Oryol. His memoir The Story of Roman was first published in the early 90’s under the pseudonym Sergey Nizhny and was the basis for the 2021 feature film Firebird by Estonian director Peeter Rebane. Actor and screenwriter Tom Prior was approached to play the lead of Sergey in 2015, it was from then that Rebane and Prior co-created the multi-award winning film which propelled it into its great success. After battling long-term illness, he passed away on May 3, 2017. A force of unconditional love, he never ceased to approach life with courage, joy and wonder.