by Faina Savenkova for the Saker blog

The first time I got to the science fiction festival in Donetsk was completely by accident. My teacher could not come, and I wrote to Aleksandr Igorevich Kofman, suddenly having heard: “Come”. A couple of days to pack and we’re on our way. I was not yet 11 years old at that time and everything looked amazing and unusual to me. I was afraid of writers like of fire.

They are all important serious people, and here I am, a small one with a play and a couple of stories. It is unlikely that at that time I understood why this festival was needed. All I wanted was impressions. Well, and to feel very adult. After all, there’s a whole play behind me, yeah. In addition, I’m the only author from the LPR. 3 years have passed. This year, the festival “Stars over Donbass” will welcome its guests for the 3rd time, despite the war and shelling. Writers from Russia and abroad will come to Donetsk again.

As for me, this is a real act, because visiting Donetsk is not only an opportunity to support the residents of Donbass, it is a choice of the side. Just as holding the festival by the Public Chamber of the DPR in such conditions is a small feat. And I am glad that every year there are more and more of us. Donbass is a place of Russian culture and it made its choice.

Faina Savenkova, playwright and writer

When I received an invitation to come to Donetsk, I was not surprised at all. A warring city, where the front runs right through the outskirts? I was just recently in it – I brought medicines to the republican hospital…

While the reason for the invitation – the science fiction festival – was completely unexpected! Only twenty people were invited – but what names! The flowers of Russian fiction, without exaggeration. Truly, it is worth a lot to find yourself in such a society!

And the perfect surprise for me was a neighbor on the dining table – a young girl with pigtails. Wow – she writes too! Plays and short stories that turned out to be very unusual.

By the way, she became a very interesting conversationalist, the difference of almost 50 years was not felt at all. It so happened that we went a lot of places with her together, met with a variety of people. And we talked with them absolutely on equal terms, without discounts on the age of the interlocutor.

What precisely distinguishes this particular event from many similar ones?

The fact that here the emphasis is placed on the live communication of the author and the reader – which is very lacking in all other festivals. Here it is in the first place.

And meetings with a large audience… and this is in a warring city! I haven’t seen such an interest in us and our creativity as was shown here for a long time!

Yes, if we talk about the strength of spirit that the residents of Donetsk have, I even find it difficult to assess it – it’s something incredible…

And I am very glad that with our modest efforts we were able to support them at least with something!

Aleksandr Kontorovich, writer and soldier


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