Themed Playlist: Artavazd Peleshyan’s Films- Ethics, Poetics, Philosophy
About the lists: Calls to socially distance and self-isolate are driving people to look for things to watch. But the sheer amount of options out there can be overwhelming. For this reason, we at the Centre for Screen Cultures are producing themed playlists of film, video, and television so you can organise your own series or festival at home (or home school). They will update here and here: https://screenculture.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/category/media-playlists/
Dina Iordanova has been excavating the Internet and navigating its abundance to share hidden yet available gems with her friends and colleagues. In this list, she shares the work of Artavazd Peleshyan:
This remarkable Armenian filmmaker remains much better known among cinephiles in France and elsewhere. The time of the lockdown may be suitable to get familiar with his work, especially as all his films could easily be seen in a day, and most of them are easily accessible through the links provided in this playlist. Out of the twelve shorts credited to Peleshyan (b. 1938), ten are listed on this playlist. Most are in B&W, many rely on his technique of ‘distant montage’, a number use found footage, most feature no dialogue and voiceover commentary is rare, replaced by expressive musical accompaniment.
One can also find informative writing on the director’s oeuvre from several sites, mainly The Parajanov Institute, The Seventh Art, and Unspoken Cinema. There is also the in-depth essay by Danny Fairfax in Senses of Cinema, which contextualizes and analyses Peleshyan’s oeuvre (http://sensesofcinema.com/2012/great-directors/artavazd-pelechian/).
If you only see one film by Peleshyan, it ought to be the most widely acclaimed, Seasons (1975, 29 min), a black and white ode to the majestic nature of the Caucasus, its people and their livelihood.
The rest of his films are listed here chronologically. All are important and worth seeing. An asterisk indicates it is a film that has attracted international attention and esteem.
Mountain Vigil (1964, 11 min, ), about the construction of a railway high in the mountains.
Beginning (1967, 9 min,), another student film made at VGIK is dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Soviet revolution and uses extensive montage of archival and film footage to make the point of the imminent arrival of a world-wide proletarian revolution.
* We (1969, 25 min, ), the film he makes on his return to Armenia and which explores the identity of the Armenian nation by looking into matters of collective memory and shared experiences. It develops his trademark use of montage and music.
* The Inhabitants (1970, 9 min,) an impassionate plea for the natural world. Found footage, last part of three-part project. Made for Belarusfilm.
* Our Century (1982, 50 min ) space travel, and the glorious Soviet industry.
* End (1992, 8 min, ) a spiritual film about the pilgrimage of life.
* Life (1993, 7 min) the sole colour film, focusing on birth and the beginning of life.