Film-maker and artist Sergei Parajanov, born in 1924 in Tbilisi into an Armenian family, is one
of the most daring and visionary directors to emerge from the former Soviet Union. Fellini,
Antonioni and Tarkovsky hailed him as a ‘genius’, ‘magician’ and without doubt ‘a master’.
His unique, explosive cinematic language has no equal in the world of cinema.
After graduating from VGIK (State Institute of Cinematography) in Moscow, Parajanov was
directed to Kiev’s Dovzjenko film studio where, in 1963, he created the film ‘Shadows of
our Forgotten Ancestors’, which won him a BAFTA and brought him both worldwide
popularity and persecution. His next film, the anti-war ‘Kiev’s Frescoes’, was banned.
In 1966 he was invited to Armenia, where he shot his best-known film ‘The Color of
Pomegranate’ (‘Sayat-Nova’), which underwent heavy Soviet censorship before release.
Nevertheless, this film won international recognition, as well as further provoking the authorities.
In spite of international acclaim, Parajanov was a constant target for the Soviet authorities.
He was arrested twice on fabricated charges and spent five years in hard labour camps
in the Ukraine and Georgia. During his imprisonment, he continued his creative activity –
painting, making collages, puppets and hats out of any materials that he came across.
‘I was prohibited to make films and started to create collages. A collage is a compressed film”,
he said. After his release he was not allowed to make films for fifteen years, so dedicated
his life to making collages, drawings and other art forms. He was eventually permitted to
work as a film-maker again in 1983, and created ‘The Legend of Suram Fortress’ in Georgia.
In spite of Parajanov’s sufferings, there is no malice evident in his art. He followed the
principle of answering evil with kindness: as he put it, ‘to revenge by love’. In 1988 the
Armenian Government built a house-museum for him in Yerevan which, because of the
1988 earthquake, was only completed in 1991, a year after his death. Parajanov used to
say: ‘I have three motherlands – I was born in Georgia, worked in Ukraine and will die
Strange and ridiculous life of the father