Sergei Parajanov  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Sergei Parajanov; also spelled Paradzhanov or Paradjanov) (January 9, 1924July 20 1990) was a Soviet-Armenian film director. He invented his own unparalleled cinematic style having taken inspiration from early works of Andrei Tarkovsky and Pier Paolo Pasolini. His oeuvre is extremely poetic, artistic and visionary and is acclaimed worldwide. But as it was highly unfit with principal rules of socialist realism (the only sanctioned art style in USSR) and his controversial stance and escapades to boot, cinema authorities regularly denied him permission to make films.

Although he started professional film-making in 1954, he later disowned all of his pre-1964 works as "garbage". After directing Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (renamed Wild Horses of Fire for most foreign distributions) Parajanov had become something of an international celebrity and simultaneously a target for Soviet oppression system. Nearly all of his film projects and plans from 1965-1973 got banned, scrapped or closed by film administration, both local (in Kiev and Yerevan) and federal (infamous Goskino), almost without discussion until he was finally arrested in late 1973 on trumped-up charges of rape, homosexuality and bribery. He was imprisoned until 1977, despite plethora of pleas for pardon from various esteemed artists.

Even after release (he was yet to be arrested for the third and last time in 1982) he was persona non grata in Soviet cinema. It was not until mid-80's, when political climate started to supple, that he could resume directing. Still, it required help of influential Georgian actor David (Dodo) Abashidze and other friends to have his last feature films green-lighted.

His health seriously weakened by 4 years in labor camps and 9 months in Tbilisi prison, Parajanov died of lung cancer in 1990, at the time when, after almost 20 years of suppression, his films were finally again allowed to be featured in foreign film festivals.




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