Sergei Parajanov Poster


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Overview (3)

Born in Tiflis, Georgian SSR, TSFSR, USSR [now Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia]
Died in Yerevan, Armenian SSR, USSR [now Armenia]  (cancer)
Birth NameSarkis Parajanian

Mini Bio (2)

One of the 20th century's greatest masters of cinema Sergei Parajanov was born in Georgia to Armenian parents and it was always unlikely that his work would conform to the strict socialist realism that Soviet authorities preferred. After studying film and music, Parajanov became an assistant director at the Dovzhenko studios in Kiev, making his directorial debut in 1954, following that with numerous shorts and features, all of which he subsequently dismissed as "garbage". However, in 1964 he was able to make Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964), a rhapsodic celebration of Ukrainian folk culture, and the world discovered a startling and idiosyncratic new talent. He followed this up with the even more innovative The Color of Pomegranates (1969) (which explored the art and poetry of his native Armenia in a series of stunningly beautiful tableaux), but by this stage the authorities had had enough, and Paradjanov spent most of the 1970s in prison on almost certainly rigged charges of "homosexuality and illegal trafficking in religious icons". However, with the coming of perestroika, he was able to make The Legend of Suram Fortress (1985), Ashik Kerib (1988) and The Confession, which survives as Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992), before succumbing to cancer in 1990.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

One of the 20th century's greatest masters of cinema, Sergei Parajanov in the 1960s made two masterpieces in a row: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964) and The Color of Pomegranates (1969). Both established him as a phenomenon with no analogy in the art world.

Parajanov was born on the January 9, 1924, in Tbilisi, Georgia, USSR, to an ethnic Armenian family. His father was Iosif Parajanian and his mother was Siranush Bejanian. In 1945 Parajanov traveled to Moscow and entered the directing department at VGIK, one of the oldest and most highly respected film schools in Europe, and studied under director Igor Savchenko and later Aleksandr Dovzhenko in Kiev, Ukraine. Parajanov moved to Kiev, where after a few documentaries (Dumka (1957), Zolotye ruki (1957), Natalya Uzhviy (1957)) and several narrative films (Andriesh (1954), Ukrainian Rhapsody (1961), Flower on the Stone (1962)) he created the magnificent "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors", which won countless international awards, including the British Academy Award. The success of "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" was compared to that of the super influential Battleship Potemkin (1925); however, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" didn't conform to the standards of Soviet cinema and Parajanov was immediately blacklisted.

He left for Armenia to film the documentary Hakob Hovnatanyan (1967), and then in 1968 he created "Sayat Nova", his masterpiece. "Sayat Nova" was banned by Soviet authorities, re-edited and re-named "The Color of Pomegranate". In December of 1973, the Soviet government arrested Parajanov and sentenced him to five years in hard labor camps. A large group of world-famous artists, filmmakers and activists protested and Parajanov was released, but only after having served four horrific years in the Soviet penal system. Poet Louis Aragon's petition to the Soviet government was instrumental in securing Parajanov's release.

Parajanov returned to Tbilisi, but the regime continued to keep him away from cinema. During and after prison Paradjanov created extraordinary collages, drawings and numerous other art works, now frequently exhibited worldwide. In 1984, however, political conditions started to change and, with the help of Georgian intellectuals, the government allowed Parajanov to create the multi-award winning The Legend of Suram Fortress (1985) 15 long years after "Sayat Nova".

In 1986 Parajanov made yet another multi-award winning film, Ashik Kerib (1988), based on a tale by Mikhail Lermontov, and dedicated the film to his friend Andrei Tarkovsky. His stay in prison had crushed his health, however, and he passed away in July of 1990, leaving his final masterpiece "The Confession" unfinished. It survives in its original negative in Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992) by his closest friend Mikhail Vartanov.

Parajanov's friends and and colleagues such as Federico Fellini, Tonino Guerra, Francesco Rosi, Alberto Moravia, Giulietta Masina, Marcello Mastroianni and Bernardo Bertolucci were among those who grieved his death, yet today Sergei Parajanov remains not very widely known. Few who saw "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" or "Color of Pomegranate" have not been forever influenced by the unseen beauty created by the genius.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: PARAJANOV.com

Spouse (2)

Svetlana Paradjanov (1956 - 1962) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Nigyak Kerimova (1950 - 1951) ( her death)

Trivia (11)

Best friend of documentary filmmaker Mikhail Vartanov whom he considered to be the only authentic expert of his art and who was one of only a handful of Parajanov's (many) friends to passionately campaign for his release from the Soviet GULAG - their brave prison correspondence later became a chapter of Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992).
One of his favorite filmmakers was Pier Paolo Pasolini.
His films Ashik Kerib and Legend of Suram Fortress credit Dodo Abashidze as co-director. While the latter was instrumental in getting the films "green-lighted," he had done virtually no direction in either film. Abashidze also shared several awards with Sergei Parajanov for the above films. Parajanov also gave credit to 3 individuals for production design in Ashik Kerib and they, not Parajanov, received European Academy Awards.
Pictured on a postage stamp in Armenia (April 1999).
Pictured on a postage stamp in Ukraine (February 1999).
In 1999, Sergei Parajanov was included in the list of the UNESCO jubilees (his 75 anniversary). In 2007, he was included into the 501 Greatest Movie Directors book. In 2009, he was included into the Wild Bunch of 50 Directors with Federico Fellini and David Lynch by Sight and Sound.
Won the British Academy Award for Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964) and the European Academy Award for Ashik Kerib (1988).
2003 - 2010: Retrospectives in Berlin, Seoul, Uherske Hradiste, Singapore, Moscow, Yerevan, Hollywood, Wroclaw, Paris, Los Angeles, Potenza, St. Petersburg, London, Ljubljana.
Parajanov's restored The Color of Pomegranates (1969) world premiered the 67th Cannes Film Festival in May 2014, and at the 28th Il Cinema Ritrovato Film Festival with Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992) in June. Its North American premiere was at the 39th Toronto Film Festival, and the US premiere was at The Academy at LACMA series in September. In October, Martin Scorsese accepted the 2014 Parajanov-Vartanov Institute Award on behalf of his foundation for the restoration of The Color of Pomegranates (1969) and introduced the masterpiece at the 52nd New York Film Festival (NYFF first screened it 34 years earlier, and hosted Paradjanov in 1988).
His parents, Iosif and Siran, were antique dealers in Tbilisi.
Director Sergei Parajanov was Armenian.

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