This March the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank will host a season of Armenian film-maker Sergei Paradjanov’s works. The festival will include Paradjanov’s acclaimed features, short films and documentaries.
Elisabetta Fabrizi, curator of the festival, has long nurtured a passion for the director. Having completed her university dissertation on his works, since 2005 she has been engaged by the idea of making Paradjanov known to a wider international audience.
Paradjanov’s legacy has shaped the styles of several British film-makers, including that of Derek Jarman, whose works were inspired by The Colour of Pomegranates. Other “followers” include the Brothers Quay, whom Fabrizi calls “the real masters of animation”.
Although prominent in his influence on film-makers of the 20th century, along with fashion designers, musicians and artists, Paradjanov is virtually unknown among film lovers.
To Fabrizi, the director’s ability to bring together a variety of cultures and religions, such as Islam and Christianity, in his films makes them topical and modern in today’s political and social context.
So when Fabrizi met Layla Alexander-Garret, a London-based Russian art promoter who was also searching for a venue to host a Paradjanov film festival, she knew it was a dream come true. Together, the two Paradjanov admirers pooled their contacts and experience, and finally made the long anticipated two-and-a-half-month Paradjanov festival happen.
The festival will be the biggest Paradjanov celebration ever held in the UK. The most recent Paradjanov-themed cultural event in the UK goes back to 10 years ago, when the Lumiere cinema put on an exhibition and screenings in memory of his craft.
The festival will host screenings of Paradjanov’s and Paradjanov-influenced films, including documentaries by Russian, Ukrainian, French and German film-makers. Some screenings will be followed by Q&A sessions with Paradjanov’s friends and collaborators, along with Paradjanov scholars.
According to Fabrizi, the festival films will be introduced by, among others, director Patrick Cazals and film critic and writer Tony Rayns.
The March 6 symposium will bring together a large variety of guests, including the director of the Armenian-based Paradjanov museum and those who have worked with Paradjanov.
Contemporary artist Mat Collishaw has been commissioned to produce a moving image installation for the festival.
The project unites sculpture and the moving image in an atmospheric work inspired by Paradjanov’s craft. According to Fabrizi, Collishaw, whose show runs until May 9, has managed to poetically convey the spirit of Paradjanov’s artistic endeavour.
Some events at the festival are being organised exclusively by Fabrizi’s Russian partner Alexander-Garret, including the photo exhibition by a Georgian artist Yuri Mechitov, which contains rare pictures taken during his long friendship with Sergei Paradjanov, in addition to a memorial concert at the Armenian Church, and a set of events at the Pushkin House, Russian cultural centre in London, and in Bristol.
And what could be Fabrizi’s next artistic project? Considering the successful professional collaboration with Alexander-Garret, the curator might opt for a season of Russian film classics.
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