‘I smoked and worked too much.’ Watch Russia’s upcoming rap talent talk drugs, art, and sobriety

25 May 2021

In a new documentary, a multi-talented rapper reveals how art can be a refuge from addiction.

Directed by Pablo Rojas, Raging Waters follows rapper i61 as he journeys through painting, animation, and music, opening just as the 27-year-old heads on stage.

In the film, i61 — also known as Fyodor Oralov — opens up on suffering from poor mental health. “There were bad experiences when I went off limits; I smoked and worked too much,” he says. “I went off the rails, and I slept too little because I had an itch to create something new all the time. It was a kind of obsession. When all of that piled up, my brains just boiled.” Yet, ironically, it was art that saved him out of this dark period. “My body was severely damaged and I had to undergo treatment but in the end, art helped me get back.”

Asked what motivated him to embark on this project, Rojas told The Calvert Journal: “I’ve always been interested in resilience and our ability to overcome difficulty. Fedya impressed me as a subject that embodied this notion.”

“Strength is defined by struggle, by difficulty, and I wanted to build a portrait that encompassed this idea,” the director added, “while also underlining the redemptive and restorative power of art and creativity, which I believe to be a universal gift.”

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