Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
After the tremendous international success in the mid-1960s of filmmaker Sergei Paradjanov's elegiac celebration of themes from Ukrainian folklore Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, the director used his increased stature to fight for human rights issues and gathered a family of intellectuals around him from throughout the U.S.S.R. and the world. Needless to say, under the repressive Brezhnev regime, this did not make him popular with authorities, but he was allowed to make his next film, a celebration of Armenian culture and history, Sayat Nova. However, it was barely allowed to be shown outside of Armenia itself. Since Paradjanov did not let up on his "anti-social" activities, he was arrested by the government and tried on trumped-up charges of "antique-dealing," among other things, and sentenced to five years' hard labor. His name was forbidden to be spoken in public for ten years. Only the strong support he received from the international (including the Eastern European) film-making community enabled him to eventually return to civilian life. This documentary captures the filmmaker on his return from a triumphant visit to Paris, as he suffers a massive heart attack, and it also shows his corpse as it is being used to model a death mask. Film-history buffs will be interested in footage from the director's uncompleted film, "Confession," as well as film footage of the famous and much-persecuted man enjoying the company of friends.