Paradjanov, Vartanov Spouses to be Honored at Beverly Hills Film Festival

BEVERLY HILLS—To recognize the underappreciated role women play in the lives of artists, the first annual Parajanov-Vartanov Awards will be presented to the spouses of the late influential filmmakers Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) and Mikhail Vartanov (1937-2009). For his commitment to the independent and underrated cinema, the founder of the Beverly Hills Film Festival, Nino Simone, will also be honored with the Parajanov-Vartanov Award.

The awards will be handed out by the Parajanov-Vartanov Institute at the gala awards ceremony of the 10th Annual Beverly Hills Film Festival on April 18, 2010 at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The awards ceremony will be preceded at 3pm by a rare showing of Vartanov’s “Parajanov: The Last Spring” at UCLA in the James Bridges Theater, Melnitz Hall, located at 235 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095. The screening will be accompanied by a short classical music concert and a photography exhibition, I Will Wear Your Beret Papa, from the last month’s showing at the Condestable Palace in Navarra, Spain.

Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) is widely regarded as one of the greatest masters of cinema and has been called a genius, a master and a magician by legends like Fellini, Antonioni, Godard, and Tarkovsky. Paradjanov’s masterpieces, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964), and Sayat Nova or The Color of Pomegranates (1968), often turn up on the lists of the best motion pictures of all time.

Mikhail Vartanov (1937-2009) developed a method of documentary filmmaking termed the ‘direction of undirected action’ and his reputation as one of the most important cinematographers, documentarians and intellectuals of his generation was cemented by such influential documentary films as The Seasons of the Year (1975), Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992), and a series of essays including The Unmailed Letters.

Mrs. Parajanov and Mrs. Vartanov – the Ukrainian pedagogue Svetlana Sherbatiuk and the Armenian film editor Svetlana Manucharian – have stood by
their husbands in the difficult times of persecutions and significantly contributed to the preservation of these masters’ oeuvres. Nino Simone founded the Beverly Hills Film Festival in 2001 and resurrected such important forgotten films as D.W. Griffith’s “In Old California” (1910), Mikhail Vartanov’s “Parajanov: The Last Spring” (1992), and  Eugenio Cappuccio’s “Towards the Moon with Fellini” (2006).

“To me…besides…Griffith and Eisenstein, the world cinema has not discovered anything revolutionarily new until (Parajanov’s) Color of Pomegranates” wrote Mikhail Vartanov in 1968. “Vartanov…you posses everything an artist needs – mind, kindness, principles, freedom… Create… perhaps you’re the only friend who compels me to live” said Sergei Parajanov in a 1974 letter from Soviet prisons.

The Parajanov-Vartanov Award presentation and the UCLA screening are held in the framework of the 2010 Beverly Hills Film Festival. The screening is cosponsored by the UCLA Armenian Studies Program,  the Friends of UCLA Armenian Language and Culture Studies, the Center for Near Eastern Studies, and the Center for European and Eurasian Studies.

Parajanov-Vartanov Institute promotes the artistic legacies of the late influential filmmakers Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) and Mikhail Vartanov (1937-2009). Beverly Hills Film Festival was founded in 2001 to showcase the independent cinema in the renowned city of Beverly Hills.

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