Chris Kennedy

“The Circle of Time: A Tribute to Artavazd Péléchian,” August 8, 2017

The Circle of Time: A Tribute to Artavazd Péléchian
Co-programmed and co-presented by Oona Mosna, Media City Film Festival.
Supported by the Consulate General of France in Toronto.
Introduced by Marguerite Vappereau,

The films of Armenian-born Artavazd Péléchian are amongst the most stunning documentaries of the postwar Soviet era. Trained in the classrooms of Moscow’s storied cinematography school VGIK, Péléchian began to develop a singular style from his very first films. Unlike many of his more political peers, Péléchian explored humanist themes on a universal scale, using beautifully photographed observations of people, animals and nature to comment on time and the human condition. Key to his filmmaking is his theory of distance montage, in which thematic links are made over the course of a film rather than across direct cuts; as he explained the concept, “Eisenstein’s montage was linear, like a chain. Distance montage creates a magnetic field around the film. It’s like when a light is turned on and light is generated around the lamp. In distance montage, when the two ends are excited, the whole thing glows.” This technique is similar to the editing style of Nathaniel Dorsky, although Péléchian strives towards circularity, symmetry and a more absolute sense of time.

This programme comprises three of Péléchian’s most important films, including his masterpiece The Seasons, made in collaboration with cinematographer Mikhail Vartanov, (a long-time ally of the great Armenian filmmaker Sergei Parajanov). With stunning shots of shepherds herding sheep through winter snow and springtime rapids, farmers directing hay bales down steep inclines, and the celebratory rituals of a village wedding, The Seasons is Péléchian’s supreme celebration of the interrelationship of humanity and the natural world.

The Inhabitants (Obitateli) dir. Artavazd Péléchian | Armenia 1970 | 8 min. 35mm
We (My) dir. Artavazd Péléchian | Armenia/USSR 1969 | 26 min. 35mm
The Seasons (Vremena Goda) dir. Artavazd Péléchian | Armenia/USSR 1975 | 30 min. 35mm