Armenian: Սերգեյ Փարաջանով
Russian: Серге́й Ио́сифович Параджа́нов
Georgian: სერგო ფარაჯანოვი
Ukrainian: Сергій Йо́сипович Параджа́нов
Sergei Parajanov was a Soviet film director and artist of Armenian descent who made significant contributions to Soviet cinematography through Ukrainian, Georgian, and Armenian cinema. He invented his own cinematic style, which was totally out of step with the guiding principles of socialist realism. This, combined with his controversial lifestyle and behavior, led Soviet authorities to repeatedly persecute and imprison him, and suppress his films.
Parajanov was born on 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 Kyiv, Ukraine. Parajanov moved to Kiev, where after a few documentaries (Думка (1957), Золотые руки (1957), Наталья Ужвий (1957)) and several narrative films (Андриеш (1954), Украинская рапсодия (1961), Цветок на камне (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 Броненосец Потёмкин (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 Акоп Овнатанян (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 artworks, 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 “Легенда о Сурамской крепости” (1985) 15 long years after “Sayat Nova”.
In 1986 Parajanov made yet another multi-award winning film, Ашик-Кериб (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.
“In the temple of cinema, there are images, light, and reality. Sergei Parajanov was the master of that temple.”
If you know/understand Armenian, you would like to watch these videos about Parajanov.