|Birth Day:||January 9, 1924|
|Death Date:||July 20, 1990(1990-07-20) (aged 66)
|Birth Place:||Tiflis, Georgian SSR, TSFSR, USSR [now Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia], Not Known|
As per our current Database, Sergei Parajanov died on July 20, 1990(1990-07-20) (aged 66)
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Parajanov was born Sarkis Hovsepi Parajaniants (Սարգիս Հովսեփի Փարաջանյանց) to artistically gifted Armenian parents, Iosif Paradjanov and Siranush Bejanova, in Tbilisi, Georgia. (The family name of Parajaniants is attested by a surviving historical document at the Sergei Parajanov Museum in Yerevan.) He gained access to art from an early age. In 1945, he traveled to Moscow, enrolled in the directing department at the VGIK, one of the oldest and highly respected film schools in Europe, and studied under the tutelage of directors Igor Savchenko and Aleksandr Dovzhenko.
In 1948 he was convicted of homosexual acts (which were illegal at the time in the Soviet Union) with an MGB officer named Nikolai Mikava in Tbilisi. He was sentenced to five years in prison, but was released under an amnesty after three months. In video interviews, friends and relatives contest the truthfulness of anything he was charged with. They speculate the punishment may have been a form of political retaliation for his rebellious views.
In 1950 Parajanov married his first wife, Nigyar Kerimova, in Moscow. She came from a Muslim Tatar family and converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity to marry Parajanov. She was later murdered by her relatives because of her conversion. After her murder Parajanov left Russia for Kyiv, Ukraine, where he produced a few documentaries (Dumka, Golden Hands, Natalia Uzhvy) and a handful of narrative films: Andriesh (based on a fairy tale by the Moldovan writer Emilian Bukov), The Top Guy (a kolkhoz musical), Ukrainian Rhapsody (a wartime melodrama), and Flower on the Stone (about a religious cult infiltrating a mining town in the Donets Basin). He became fluent in Ukrainian and married his second wife, Svitlana Ivanivna Shcherbatiuk (1938-2020), also known as Svetlana Sherbatiuk or Svetlana Parajanov, in 1956. Shcherbatiuk gave birth to a son, Suren, in 1958. The couple eventually divorced and she and Suren relocated to Kyiv, Ukraine.
Andrey Tarkovsky's first film Ivan's Childhood had an enormous impact on Parajanov's self-discovery as a filmmaker. Later the influence became mutual, and he and Tarkovsky became close friends. Another influence was Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, who Parajanov would later describe as "like a God" to him and a director of "majestic style". In 1965 Parajanov abandoned socialist realism and directed the poetic Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, his first film over which he had complete creative control. It won numerous international awards and, unlike the subsequent The Color of Pomegranates, was relatively well received by the Soviet authorities. The Script Editorial Board at Goskino of Ukraine praised the film for "conveying the poetic quality and philosophical depth of M. Kotsiubynsky’s tale through the language of cinema," and called it "a brilliant creative success of the Dovzhenko studio." Moscow also agreed to Goskino of Ukraine's request to release the film with its original Ukrainian soundtrack intact, rather than redub the dialogue into Russian for Soviet-wide release, in order to preserve its Ukrainian flavor. (Russian dubbing was standard practice at that time for non-Russian Soviet films when they were distributed outside the republic of origin.)
Parajanov departed Kyiv shortly afterwards for his ancestors' homeland, Armenia. In 1969, he embarked on Sayat Nova, a film that many consider to be his crowning achievement, though it was shot under relatively poor conditions and had a very small budget. Soviet censors intervened and banned Sayat Nova for its allegedly inflammatory content. Parajanov re-edited his footage and renamed the film The Color of Pomegranates. Critic Alexei Korotyukov remarked: "Paradjanov made films not about how things are, but how they would have been had he been God." Mikhail Vartanov wrote in 1969 that "Besides the film language suggested by Griffith and Eisenstein, the world cinema has not discovered anything revolutionarily new until The Color of Pomegranates ...".
By December 1973, the Soviet authorities had grown increasingly suspicious of Parajanov's perceived subversive proclivities, particularly his bisexuality, and sentenced him to five years in a hard labor camp in Siberia for "a rape of a Communist Party member, and the propagation of pornography." Three days before Parajanov was sentenced, Andrei Tarkovsky wrote a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, asserting that "In the last ten years Sergei Paradjanov has made only two films: Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors and The Colour of Pomegranates. They have influenced cinema first in Ukraine, second in this country as a whole, and third in the world at large. Artistically, there are few people in the entire world who could replace Paradjanov. He is guilty – guilty of his solitude. We are guilty of not thinking of him daily and of failing to discover the significance of a master." An eclectic group of artists, filmmakers and activists protested, to little avail, on behalf of Parajanov, among them Yves Saint Laurent, Françoise Sagan, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovsky and Mikhail Vartanov.
In February 1982 Parajanov was once again imprisoned, on charges of bribery, which happened to coincide with his return to Moscow for the premiere of a play commemorating Vladimir Vysotsky at the Taganka Theatre, and was effected with some degree of trickery. Despite another stiff sentence, he was freed in less than a year, with his health seriously weakened.
In 1985, the slow thaw within the Soviet Union spurred Parajanov to resume his passion for cinema. With the encouragement of various Georgian intellectuals, he created the multi-award-winning film The Legend of Suram Fortress, based on a novella by Daniel Chonkadze, his first return to cinema since Sayat Nova fifteen years earlier. In 1988, Parajanov made another multi-award-winning film, Ashik Kerib, based on a story by Mikhail Lermontov. It is the story of a wandering minstrel, set in the Azerbaijani culture. Parajanov dedicated the film to his close friend Andrei Tarkovsky and "to all the children of the world".
Parajanov then attempted to complete his final project. He died of cancer in Yerevan, Armenia, on July 20, 1990, aged 66, leaving this final work, The Confession, unfinished. It survives in its original negative as Parajanov: The Last Spring (film), assembled by his close friend Mikhail Vartanov in 1992. Federico Fellini, Tonino Guerra, Francesco Rosi, Alberto Moravia, Giulietta Masina, Marcello Mastroianni and Bernardo Bertolucci were among those who publicly mourned his death. They sent a telegram to Russia with the following statement: "The world of cinema has lost a magician".
While he was incarcerated, Parajanov produced a large number of miniature doll-like sculptures (some of which were lost) and some 800 drawings and collages, many of which were later displayed in Yerevan, where the Sergei Parajanov Museum is now permanently located. (The museum, opened in 1991, a year after Parajanov’s death, hosts more than 200 works as well as furnishings from his home in Tbilisi.) His efforts in the camp were repeatedly compromised by prison guards, who deprived him of materials and called him mad, their cruelty only subsiding after a statement from Moscow admitted that "the director is very talented."
The Parajanov-Vartanov Institute was established in Hollywood in 2010 to study, preserve and promote the artistic legacies of Sergei Parajanov and Mikhail Vartanov.
Currently, Sergei Parajanov is 98 years, 7 months and 6 days old. Sergei Parajanov will celebrate 99th birthday on a Monday 9th of January 2023.
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