Russian-Born Software Engineer Wins International Writing Contest

Russian Born Software Engineer Wins International Writing Contest

Phil Vengrinovich, who lives in New York, US, was announced as the Screenplay Award Short Film category winner in the Page Turner Screenplay Award. This was announced at a glittering online ceremony, where Paul Michael Glaser from Starsky and Hutch fame was a special guest to announce the winners.

The Page Turner Awards, sponsored by ProWritingAid and Campfire, offers authors, writers, and screenwriters the chance to enter the first 10 pages of their writing project, where a judging panel of literary experts and film producers will read the work.

A Russian-born living in the US, Vengrinovich is a software engineer by trade and has worked in tech for the last 10 years.

His short film, Regarding the Pain of Others, is a dark comedy drama of sympathy, pain, and idleness, focusing on a surreal journey of an ordinary family who goes through their daily routine as they get ready to attend a show.

The story is inspired by the writer's own idleness and passivity in the face of violence and suffering from others, both in relation to friends and family, as well as the broader community in his place of birth, Moscow in Russia.
The plot treats sympathy in the face of suffering as an equivalent of inaction, or idleness, to show that it is simply not enough: if our only reaction towards the suffering of others is sympathy, we feel as if we aren’t accomplices, but that is obviously not true. Sympathy inspires passivity and dulls proactive action, and in this light, it makes us no better than accomplices.

Susan Sontag has cemented these ideas in ‘Regarding the Pain of Others’, a book which has served as a great inspiration for the writer. This story is an attempt to drive sympathy to it’s very extremes, a place where those who exhibit it end up as unknowing accomplices. Hence, the setting for the public execution, many of which, towards their vanquishing end, were treated as nothing but entertainment. In a prophylactic manner, the writer set out to write this story to change his own reaction towards the suffering of others. The Thompson’s family, as a whole, are meant to represent the writers’ indolence with the hope of inspiring change.

Although born and raised in Russia, Vengrinovich moved to San Francisco at the age of 20 in order to pursue a career in tech, which later sent him to Seattle, WA, and, a few years after, to NY, where he currently resides. His family still live in Moscow, Russia.

Having been watching at least a movie a day for as long as he can remember, he never considered writing until moving to the US. His father is the greatest storyteller he knows and has served as the main inspiration for many of his stories.

At this same time, he is still, for some elusive reason, unable to tell his father about his passion for writing, because through his eyes it somehow seems impractical. His younger sister is currently in film school in Moscow, a year into her directing degree, and he very much hopes that someday they could make a film together.

Vengrinovich said: “Page Turner Awards is one of those extremely rare cases where it feels like the organizers really care about the writers. Not about the bottom-line. And not even necessarily about the winners. The community is lively, responsive, and well-meaning, there are ample opportunities to give anyone a shot at getting their foot through the door, and, most importantly, the continuous engagement from the staff inspires confidence in the idea that you’re not just shooting in the dark.”

He added, “I’m incredibly humbled and grateful to have my thoughts, issues and worries validated in a way that doesn’t make me feel lonely, or else delusional. I hope that this story could inspire the viewer to consider their own stance amid the suffering of others.”

This year aspiring writers walked off the red carpet with life-changing prizes. One new unpublished writer won literary agency representation while a screenwriter won literary management.
Another new writer won a publishing deal, seven independent authors won an audiobook production from Spectrum Audiobooks, plus one other won a publishing package (including an edit, book cover and book trailer), and another author won a book adaptation.

The Page Turner Awards winners can be found here:

Submissions for the 2022 Awards will open in January 2022. Find out how you too can enter your writing into The Page Turner Awards: