03.09.2015 — 04.09.2015

19:00             22:00

KULTURFILM: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

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1-4 of 9

Date: September 3-4

Location: Dovzhenko Centre Art Cluster – Kyiv, Vasylkivska str., 1

Organizer: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre



On September 3-4, Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre invites you to “KULTURFILM: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” lectures and movies screening devoted to 50 years jubilee of Sergei Parajanov’s masterpiece.




Thursday, September 3


Was Sergei Parajanov a Political Filmmaker?

by James Steffen

Language of the lecture: English with Ukrainian translation


Screening of Sergei Parajanov's The Color of Pomegranates


Friday, September 4


Beyond “ethnographism”: the optical unconscious of “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”

by Olha Bryukhovetska


Screening of Sergei Parajanov's Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors




Using the protest at the 1965 Kyiv premiere of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors as a starting point, James Steffen explores various dimensions of politics as they touch upon Parajanov's personality and films. Most of Parajanov's close friends have insisted that Parajanov was not political per se, but rather interested mainly in art and beauty. Based on his research, Steffen argues for a new perspective not just in terms of Parajanov's personal activities, but also regarding the politics of aesthetics and ethnicity in the Soviet Union.


James Steffen, Ph.D., is the Film and Media Studies Librarian at Emory University and a film historian specializing in the cinemas of the former Soviet Union. His book "The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov", the first comprehensive study of Parajanov's films in English, was published in 2013. Most recently, he served as a historical consultant on the Film Foundation/World Cinema Project's 2014 restoration of The Color of Pomegranates.




1968, Armenian SSR, Armenfilm, 74 min.

Director: Sergei Parajanov

Writers: Sergei Parajanov

Cinematography: Suren Shakhbazyan

Art Direction: Stepan Andranikyan, Mikhail Arakelyan, Elena Akhvlediaini, Sergei Parajanov

Music: Tigran Mansuryan

Cast: Sofiko Chiaureli Melkon Aleksanyan Vilen Galstyan Giorgi Gegechkori


The Color of Pomegranates is a biography of the Armenian poet Sayat-Nova. The film attempts to reveal the poet's life visually and poetically rather than literally. After leaving Kyiv film studio, Sergei Parajanov came to Armenfilm studio. There he created Sayat-Nova, but his work was banned and his film was re-edited by the filmmaker Sergei Yutkevich as The Color of Pomegranates. Despite this, The Color of Pomegranates, like Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, is one of greatest Sergei Parajanov's masterpieces.




The question arises after 50 years of release of the most important Ukrainian film of the second half of 20th century: is there something more in it which we haven't seen? Doesn't the status of a classical piece lead to a certain blindness in its regard? A venture to go beyond the master narrative of “ethnographism”, whatever our assessment of it is, positive or negative, allows to see something new in the film. Parajanov himself appealed to this, once claiming: “There is no exoticism in the film whatsoever. And in order to ascertain it you have to watch the film at least six times.” Exactly such a close study of the filmic text helps to reveal what lays beyond the upper, the most obvious layer of ethnographic exoticism. So we will try to put the film on a psychoanalytic coach and reach its unconscious.


Olha Bryukhovetska, theorist of film and visual culture, PhD, senior lecturer at the Cultural studies department at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Graduated from philosophy faculty of Kyiv Taras Shevchenko University and Cultural studies master program at NaUKMA, her PhD thesis is dedicated to psychoanalytic film theory. Currently she is conducting a research on Sergei Parajanov's Ukrainian films in the context of post-Stalinist visual culture.





1964, Ukrainian SSR, Dovzhenko Film Studio, 98 min.

Director: Sergei Parajanov

Writers: Ivan Chendei, Sergei Parajanov

Cinematography: Yurii Illienko

Art Direction: Heorhii Yakutovuch, Mykhailo Rakovskyi

Music: Myroslav Skoryk

Cast: Ivan Mykolaichuk, Larysa Kadochnikova, Tat’yana Bestaeva, Spartak Bagashvili, Oleksandr Raidanov, Neonila Hnepovska, Oleksandr Hai


Two Hutsulian families share a bitter enmity. Ivan falls in love with Marichka, who is a daughter of the man who killed his father. In order to prepare for their marriage, Ivan leaves the village to work and earn money for a household. When he is gone, Marichka accidentally slips into a river and drowns trying to rescue a lost lamb.




Lectures and screenings will be held at Dovzhenko Centre Art Cluster, Kyiv, Vasylkivska str., 1.



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