‘We weren’t ready for anything’. This Russian producer grants wishes for terminally ill patients on network TV. We asked him about breaking cultural taboos and racing death to bring joy to his stars.

Last winter, the Russian television channel Pyatnitsa! (Friday!) aired the first four episodes of a new documentary series called Wish to the Sky. The episodes followed the show’s creators as they made dreams come true for terminally ill patients: Some patients took their first trip abroad to see the ocean, others went parachuting or mountain climbing, and still others met their celebrity idols or reconciled their relationships with their parents. Wish to the Sky not only helps patients cope with extreme hardship; the show is an attempt to create a new kind of language for talking about death in Russia. By the time it aired, two of the patients the program featured had passed away. Darya Nevkritaya spoke with Semyon Zakruzhny, a host and producer for Wish to the Sky, about how the project has changed both its heroes and its creators.