Is a movie on DVD a good Valentine's Day gift? In Russia, one movie most certainly is.
The movie, "A Kiss – Not for the Press" is a romantic fiction tracing the career of a politician from rank-and-file KGB agent to president. But this film does not take viewers behind closed doors to get a glimpse of Kremlin intrigues or intricacies of world politics — it look at what goes on in the leader's private quarters.
At home, the leader is a tender, loving husband and father.
And he also happens to be Vladimir Putin, a president whose private life is shrouded in secrecy. Putin's family life is off limits to the press.
Not that anyone will explicitly admit that Putin was the blueprint for the movie's hero. The film's producers and director are careful not to give anyone a hint that this dreamy B-movie is based on Putin's and his wife's true life story.
"I simply made a movie about love," director Olga Zhulina tells ABC News about her film debut. "It would have been odd for me to tell the actors to personify specific people." In spite of her coy denial, the main hero clearly resembles Putin. The film wife and Russian first lady share a name, Ludmila. Events depicted in the film closely parallel the Putin family's real-life story.
If the veil of fiction is so thin, why not openly admit that this film is about Mr. Putin's private life? Call it Russian political correctness, or a certain adage that goes back to Soviet days: why talk about it if everyone knows anyway?
The film will be distributed on DVD only and its release was reserved for St. Valentine's Day, a holiday new to Russians but one they embraced with enthusiasm. Evgeny Chukhlomin, director of the distribution company DVD Land, told ABC News, "What better day for such a film than St. Valentine's? This film is just what is needed at this time – it is a movie without lies, without vulgarity and violence. It's about family values and meant for family viewing. We want to reach every home – that's why the DVD is priced at only 149 rubles ($6)."
Russians regularly see their President on television portrayed as a sporty he-man flying a fighter plane or challenging an opponent at judo. Kremlin propagandists know how to make the revered leader look impressive. But seldom do Russians get any glimpse of their president's private life.
Russia's first lady is rarely seen at her husband's side, and the Putins' two daughters, Maria and Ekaterina, are protected from the media so effectively that almost nothing is known about them. The new release is a keenly awaited chance to get to know the Putins better.
"What is he like in life and in the family? What is in his soul? Will he have room left in his heart for love?" asks the film's publicity brochure.
Viewers will follow the protagonist's St. Petersburg career — identical to that of Putin — when as a young KGB officer he falls in love and marries Ludmila, an airline hostess. They will perhaps shed a tear when he lovingly attends to his wife after she was badly hurt in a car crash, or when he valiantly dashes into flames to carry his daughters to safety when fire breaks out at their home.