May 1, 2007 Armenian Directors Rouben Mamoulian and Sergei Paradjanov Are Subject of Documentaries Making Their American Premieres at the Library on May 10 and May 11
Director Patrick Cazals Will Discuss Both Works
Press Contact: Audrey Fischer, (202) 707-0022
French director Patrick Cazals will discuss his new documentaries “Rouben Mamoulian: The Golden Age of Broadway and Hollywood” and “Sergei Paradjanov: The Rebel” following their American premieres at the Library of Congress on May 10 and May 11, respectively. These events are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.
“Rouben Mamoulian” will be shown at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 10, in the Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The 63-minute film, covering his life in Russia, New York, Rochester, Los Angeles and Paris, will be shown again at noon on Friday, May 11, in the Pickford Theater, along with the American premiere of “Sergei Paradjanov” (52 minutes).
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia (then part of the Russian Empire) of Armenian heritage, Rouben Mamoulian (1897-1987) trained under Eugene Vakhtangov and Konstantin Stanislavsky at the Moscow Art Theatre. He moved to the United States in 1923, where he directed 44 stage plays and 16 films. These included DuBose and Dorothy Heyward’s 1927 dramatic version of their novel “Porgy” and George Gershwin’s operatic version (“Porgy and Bess”) in 1935. For the theater, he also directed “Oklahoma!” (1943), “Carousel” (1945) and “Lost in the Stars” (1949). He brought mobile and multiple cameras to Hollywood and experimented with new sound techniques in such films as “Applause” (1929), “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1932) and the major Greta Garbo film “Queen Christina” (1933). His “Becky Sharp” (1939) was the first feature film produced in three-color Technicolor.
An avid and wide-ranging collector, Mamoulian amassed more than 200 boxes containing his writings, scrapbooks, pictures, musical scores, stage direction, personal papers, memorabilia and correspondence with some of the most important names in 20th century popular entertainment (e.g., George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, William Saroyan and Ray Bradbury), which were donated to the Library of Congress in 2002 at the bequest of his widow, Adazia Mamoulian. Cazals made extensive use of the Library’s Mamoulian collection in the preparation of his documentary.
Like Mamoulian, Sergei Paradjanov (1924-1990) was born in Tbilisi, Georgia (then in the Soviet Union), to Armenian parents. In 1945, he traveled to Moscow to enroll in the directing department at VGIK (All-Union State Institute of Cinematography), one of the oldest and most respected film schools in Europe, where he studied under Igor Savchenko and Aleksandr Dovzhenko. He produced several documentaries (“Dumka,” “Golden Hands” and “Natalia Uzhvy”) and a handful of narrative films based on Ukrainian and Moldovan folktales (“Andriesh,” “Ukrainian Rhapsody” and “Flower on the Stone”). While his 1964 film “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” won numerous international awards, its failure to conform to the strict standards of the Soviet board of censors led to Paradjanov’s blacklisting. His next film, “Sayat Nova” (1968) – considered by many to be his crowning achievement – was also banned for its allegedly inflammatory content. A re-edited and renamed version, “The Color of Pomegranates,” remains his best-known work.
In 1973, Soviet authorities sentenced Paradjanov to five years in a hard labor camp for his perceived subversive proclivities. While he pursued other artistic outlets such as drawing and sculpting, he would not return to cinema until 1984. He directed several award-winning, surrealistic films during the last six years of his life.
Director Patrick Cazals has made some 40 documentaries between 1976 and 2007. He is a former associate of Libération and Cahiers du Cinéma, and producer at France Culture radio. His books include “Musidora, la dixième muse” and “Sergueï Paradjanov.” In 1987, he created his production company, Les Films du Horla.