LOS ANGELES—On October 21, Grammy Award-winning band SYSTEM OF A DOWN will receive the 2015 Parajanov-Vartanov Institute Award for the virtuous commitment to justice exemplified by their historic Wake Up The Souls tour. The event will take place on October 21 at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.
The institute studies, preserves and promotes the work of the brothers-in-arts Sergei Parajanov and Mikhail Vartanov, who, like System Of A Down, dedicated their lives to the righteous fight against the injustices of totalitarian regimes. Parajanov (1924-1990) and Vartanov (1937-2009) were admired by some of the most important figures in cinema, literature and art.
Proceeds from the October 21st event will benefit the restoration of Vartanov’s Parajanov: The Last Spring film trilogy at UCLA.
Earlier this year, System Of A Down made international headlines with their “Wake Up The Souls” tour, a global trek that commemorated April’s 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, an attempted extermination of the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire. From 1915 through 1923, 1.5 million men, women and children were starved, shot and banished to die in the desert during one of history’s greatest crimes. Though considered by many to be the first genocide of the 20th century, the Turkish government denies it ever happened.
The arena tour was the band’s first since 2013 and included their first-ever performance in Armenia at Yerevan’s Republic Square.
The October 21st event follows the institute’s successful collaboration last year with Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project on the restoration of Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates (1969), which was funded by George Harrison’s widow Olivia Harrison through their Material World Charitable Foundation and The Film Foundation.
According to the institute’s founder Martiros Vartanov, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unearthed in their archive last year Mikhail Vartanov’s suppressed 1969 film, The Color Of Armenian Land. Vartanov was blacklisted for making the 15-minute short, which portrayed dissidents Sergei Parajanov (imprisoned in 1973) and Minas Avetisian (assassinated in 1975).
When Vartanov’s artistic freedom was restored, he responded with Minas: A Requiem (1989) and Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992), which, much like System Of A Down’s oeuvre, condemns political persecution and imprisonment in an unconventional artistic language.
Parajanov: The Last Spring was created during the one hour daily quotas of electricity, in a war-torn and blockaded winter Armenia, after the country gained its independence shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Though edited under the candlelight, it earned praise from some of cinema’s greatest luminaries, including 2014 honoree Martin Scorsese.
With half of American films made before 1950 (and 80% made before 1929) forever lost, movies created in developing countries are in catastrophic danger of disappearing. The institute hopes to save this highly regarded masterwork, an indelible document of the country’s 5000-year history.
ABOUT SYSTEM OF A DOWN
Since their arrival in 1998, System Of A Down has released 5 studio albums, sold over 31 million copies worldwide, had three No. 1 debuts on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart, garnered a Grammy win and amassed a global following whose members numbers in the tens of millions. They’ve written and recorded 7 top 10 radio hits, 2 of which were chart-topping No. 1’s (2002’s “Aerials” and 2005’s “Hypnotize”). In 2005 System Of A Down released both Mezmerize and Hypnotize in two installments as a dual album in a single year. Each debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 and on charts around the world, achieving the rare feat of having two No. 1 albums in the same calendar year. “B.Y.O.B.” (Bring Your Own Bombs) was the first single released from Mezmerize and earned the band a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.