It was the visual poetry that hooked Marcin Wisniewski on Sergei Parajanov.
A Concordia film studies graduate (MA 11), Wisniewski is the curator of Folktales, Allegory and the Poetics of Soviet Cinema in the Work of Sergei Parajanov. The five-part screening and lecture series is presented by the FOFA Gallery and launches at the J.A. DeSève Cinema on January 19.
Parajanov may not be a household name to most people, but many have likely witnessed his influence – the Madonna video Bedtime Story was borrowed from his aesthetics, for example, while such filmmakers as Federico Fellini and Jean-Luc Godard were great fans.
“We don't always understand what we are seeing but we are captivated because it's beautiful,” Wisniewski notes. “I think that, like all surrealists, Parajanov believed in the cosmic or universal consciousness and that we can tap into it; that we can bring it back into an original state.”
Born in 1924 in what is now Tbilisi, Georgia, Parajanov explored his interests in beauty, art and folklore while working within a regime that required its artists to depict historical events in which the struggles of the working classes were glorified and avenged. (By avoiding any such narrative, he still ran afoul of Soviet censors and sensibilities, and spent years in prison.)
The best-known fruits of his labour – including Shadows of our Ancestors (1965) and The Color of Pomegranates (1968) – will be screened in this series. Preceding each feature, a short contemporary film will be shown and a lecture is planned to provide a framework to appreciate the films.
The speakers have been drawn from various institutions, with a range of expertise.
“Since Parajanov's work so strongly depends on the visual traditions of the regions he worked in, and since he did create such overwhelmingly beautiful images, I wanted some of the speakers to unpack his films through a fine arts perspective,” Wisniewski says.
What: Allegory, Folktales and the Poetics of Soviet Cinema in the Work of Sergei Parajanov
When: Saturdays: January 19, 26, February 2, 9 and 16 at 2 p.m.
Where: J.A. DeSève Cinema, Room LB-125, J.W. McConnell Library Building (1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.), Sir George Williams Campus
- Complete screening series schedule
- FOFA Gallery
- Madonna - Bedtime Story
- Parajanov-Vartanov Institute