Sergei Parajanov (Sarkis Parajanyan) was born on January 9, 1924 in Tbilisi to an Armenian family. After finishing high school, he studied one year in the Institute of Railway Transportation, then two years at the Department of Voice in the Tbilisi Conservatory and School of Choreography. In 1945 he entered the directing program at the VGIK (under Igor Savchenko). In 1952 he began working at the Alexander Dovzhenko Film Studios in Kiev, where he began his career as a director – producer with the film “Andriesh” (in collaboration with Yakov Bazelian). In 1959 he directed his first solo film “The Top Guy.”
Parajanov made several fiction and documentary films before directing “The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” (”Wild Horses of Fire,” 1964), which first brought him world fame. In 1966 he began work on “Kiev Frescos”, which was soon shut down. In 1967 at the Yerevan documentary studio he directed the film “Hakob Hovnatanian” and in 1968 at the ArmenFilm studio he completed work on “The Color of Pomegranates” (“Sayat-Nova”), where the principles of his aesthetics were brought to perfection.
Goskino USSR assigned the “lowest category” to the film, which predetermined its fate and closed off access to the international film market. Its re-editing was entrusted to the director Sergei Yutkevitch and resulting the original version of the film preserved only in the Armenian variant.
In 1973, during work on the film “A Miracle in Odense,” dedicated to Hans-Christian Andersen, Parajanov was arrested and sentenced by the Kiev regional court to five years of imprisonment.
In 1977, under pressure by the world film-making society, Parajanov was released early and settled in Tbilisi, but he was refused the right to work. In 1982 Parajanov was again arrested on fabricated charges, carried out 11 months in prison while awaiting trial and was finaly found innocent. From 1983 to 1988 he again worked at the Gruzia-Film studio, where he directed the pictures “The Legend of Suram Fortress”, “Arabesques on the Theme of Pirsomani” and “Ashik-Kerib.”
Sergei Parajanov was the author of the scenaries for the majority of his films. Approximately twenty original scripts - among them “Ara the Beautiful,” “David of Sasun,” “The Martyrdom of Shushanik” and “The Treasures at Mount Ararat”- were not filmed. The new language of film created by Parajanov was highly appreciated by his contemporaries. His films have been granted dozens of prestigious international awards.
The artistic work of the director also presents great interest: collages, ceramics, dolls, figures, assemblages. They make it possible to speak about him as a unique and extremely original artist. The first exhibition of his works took place in 1985 at the Tbilisi “Dom Kino” (“Film House”), followed by exhibitions in 1988 and 1989 at the Museum of Armenian Folk Art.
In 1989 the director began shooting the autobiographical film “Confession” at the Armenian Film Studio. The shooting, hardly begun, was stopped by the the serious deterioration of Parajanov’s health.
Sergei Parajanov died on July 20, 1990 in Yerevan. “With Parajanov’s death the world of cinema has lost one of its magicians-wizards” – thus the greatest figures of Italian cinema and culture expressed their grief.
In 1991 the museum of the great director and artist was opened in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. During these years almost 20 films about Parajanov have been made and many exhibitions have been held abroad.

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