Pilgrims

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Artist’s Statement: Our age is devoid of poetry. I don’t mean there are no poets, of course. There are many gifted people who are still able to perceive life and express their perception poetically. But such people are a minority. The modern social system tells us that we should function according to its rules in order to survive. To do that, we have to accept its way of seeing things and never doubt it. We need to internalize its values. We must stop searching and go with the flow. But poetry always goes in the opposite direction. Poetry dies where systems rule. Poetry is a search for freedom. Poetry accepts nothing but the truth. Very few are ready to sacrifice everything in order to find it. These exceptional individuals are pilgrims. True poets are like that.

I chose Joseph Brodsky’s poem “Pilgrims,” because it is permeated by the energy of such people. Brodsky is so precise and honest in this work, because his life story is an example of the struggle one has to through in order to stay true to oneself. As a child, he survived the siege of Leningrad. At some point he was arrested for his poetry and put in a mental institution. Later he was charged with social parasitism and sentenced to five years of hard labor by the Soviet government.

When I decided to make this short film, I tried to find a good translation, but unfortunately they were all bad. Not only had they no rhyme, but the rhythm was completely wrong. Rhythm is essential in this poem as it conveys the feeling of pilgrims’ eternal movement through space and time. So I decided to do my own translation, in which I maintained the same rhyme and rhythm that exist in the original Russian version.

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About Author

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Ivan Doan is a stage and film actor. He was born in Kyiv, Ukraine to a Ukrainian mother and Vietnamese father. He studied Method acting at the National University of Theatre, Film and Television in Kyiv. Upon graduation, he moved to Moscow to work with the Roman Viktyuk Theater Company. Doan speaks English, Ukrainian, German, Russian, French and Vietnamese and works internationally. Currently, he resides in Berlin.

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