Renowned director Artavazd Peleshyan marks 76th birthday

Renowned director Artavazd Peleshyan marks 76th birthday

14:10 22/02/2014 » CULTURE

Today, February 22, marks the 76th birthday of prominent Armenian
director of film-essays, documentarian in the history of film art and
film theorist Artavazd Peleshyan. Peleshyan was born in Leninakan,
currently Gyumri.

In the words of the filmmaker Sergei Parajanov, Peleshyan is “one of
the few authentic geniuses in the world of cinema.”

He is renowned for developing a style of cinematographic perspective
known as distance montage, combining perception of depth with oncoming
entities, such as running packs of antelope or hordes of humans. He
has always made extensive use of archive footage, mixed in with his
own shots, with fast inter-cutting between the two. Telephoto lenses
are often used to get “candid camera” shots of people engaging in
mundane tasks.

His films are on the border between documentary and feature, somewhat
reminiscent of the work of such avant-garde filmmakers as Bruce
Connor, rather than of conventional documentaries. Most of his films
are short, ranging from a mere 6 minutes long up to about 60 minutes
long. They feature no dialogue. However, music and sound effects play
nearly as important a role in his films as the visual images in
contributing towards the artistic whole. Nearly all of his films were
shot in black and white.

His early films, made when he was still a student at VGIK, were
awarded several prizes. To date, 12 films by Peleshyan are known to
exist. The Beginning (Skizbe) (1967) is a cinematographical essay
about the October Revolution of 1917. One of the unique visual effects
used in this film is achieved by holding snippets of film still on a
single frame, then advancing only for a second or two before again
pausing on another, resulting in a stuttering visual effect. Other
important films by him are We (Menq) (1967, a poetically told history
of Armenia and its people, and Inhabitant (Obitateli) (1970), a
reflection on the relationship between wildlife and humans. Artavazd
Peleshyan’s most brilliant film is considered, by many critics, to be
The Seasons of the Year (1975). Exquisitely shot by cinematographer
Mikhail Vartanov, it is an outstanding look at the contradiction and
harmony between humans and nature. It was the last collaboration
between Peleshyan and Vartanov, Armenia’s two most important
documentary auteurs; they first worked together on The Autumn Pastoral

Peleshyan is also the author of a range of theoretical works, such as
his 1988 book, Moyo kino (My Cinema).

He is now living in Moscow. His most recent film was edited at the ZKM
| Karlsruhe Film Institute in 2005-2006 and has not yet been released.


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