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Flights of Imagination

By Maria Levitov /The Moscow Times

Ilya Popenov was only 16 when he received his first literary prize, the 2002 Debut award for courage in literature. Stricken since birth with cerebral palsy, he is unable to use his hands or walk, and can only write by typing with his nose. But in his novel, titled "Wonders and Secrets" (Chudesa i Tainy), his characters, unbound by sickness, journey freely through fantastical lands.

Last Tuesday, Popenov's life and art were brought to the public eye again with the premiere of a documentary by filmmaker Olesya Fokina. Also titled "Wonders and Secrets," the documentary paints a heartbreaking picture of the wheelchair-bound teenager and his tired mother, surviving on 1,500 rubles ($52) per month in Yekaterinburg.

Throughout the film, Fokina emphasizes Popenov's habit of overcoming the daily difficulties of existence with magical flights of the imagination. In one scene, a white boat sails through dark waters as the narrator reads excerpts from Popenov's work. But when the camera rolls back, the uncharted waters are revealed to be nothing more than a dirty puddle with a tiny paper boat barely afloat.

It was Popenov's way of seeing goodness and beauty in everything that attracted the attention of critics from the very start. Formed by the International Fund Pokoleniye in 2000 to recognize Russian-language writers under the age of 25 for their long and short prose, poetry, plays and another "floating" category that changes every year, the Debut jury selected his novel from a field of 35,000 entries for a long list of 70 works. According to prize coordinator Olga Slavnikova, the choice had nothing to do with Popenov's illness.

"When we read 'Wonders and Secrets,' we did not know that Popenov was disabled," Slavnikova said. "We chose to recognize his work purely for its richness of imagination."

Indeed, Popenov is the youngest author in the Debut prize's history to be included on the long list. While his novel did not make it to the shortlist, the judges decided to honor it in the "courage in literature" category after they found out about Popenov's condition. Created in 2001, that category recognizes authors who write not because of, but despite their life circumstances. The first writer to receive the honor was Arkady Babchenko, whose semi-autobiographical war prose drew on his experiences in Chechnya.

"Wonders and Secrets" is the fourth documentary in a series by Fokina titled "A Man for All Time." The earlier films highlight celebrated personalities such as writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn and academic Alexander Konovalov. After meeting Popenov, though, Fokina found a new focus for her documentary work.

"When poet Vitaly Pukhanov [one of the Debut prize's literary experts] introduced me to the main character, I found out that the beautiful people to whom I devote my films can be found in all sorts of circles, not only the most famous ones," she said at the premiere.

"What unites all of the series' characters is that they are voices of good in a world where wars and other evils are much more visible," Fokina went on. "With my documentary about Popenov, I try to make the voice of good more audible."

Fokina's documentary is expected to air on television and at the Kinotavr film festival next month.


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مهندسی ادبيات افغانستان

کامران ميرهزار

مقاله ها و گفتگو  

گفتگو از مينا کابلی

  جلد: سين کرنان


برای دريافت نمونه ی  رايگان کتاب اينجا را کليک کنيد

چنانچه موفق به  خواندن صفحات فارسی نشديد، زبان فارسی را به سيستم خود اضافه کنيد

قيمت کتاب کامل:

افغانستان 50 افغانی

ايران 800 تومان

کشور های ديگر 20 دلار آمريکا يا معادل آن

برای خريد می توانيد با ما مکاتبه کنيد




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