To the Editors:
In 1978, Sergei Parajanov was released from a Soviet prison after serving four years of an eleven year sentence. Charged with selling gold and icons illegally and with committing homosexual acts, he was found guilty in closed court.
Parajanov says that the charges were invalid and many observers of the Soviet scene believe that he was tried in actuality for deviating from the tradition of Soviet social realism, especially in The Color of Pomegranates, which was acclaimed at the New York Film Festival of 1980.
At present, Parajanov is living in the kitchen of his mother’s old house in Tiblisi, in the Republic of Georgia, under the most difficult of conditions. The Soviet authorities have ruled that he may not make any more films, even though he has finished twenty-three scenarios. His quarters have only the amenities that he himself has created (no heat, no indoor toilet, leaky roof), and he is dependent upon the generosity of his friends for his daily existence. He is permitted to have visitors and he talks openly about his dilemma. He says he is a “walking corpse.”
We the undersigned writers, artists, and scholars of various political perspectives join in our concern for his future. He has in his own estimation only two or three years of creativity left to him. We think that he can say a great deal to us through his medium in those remaining years however many. But he must be permitted to work.
Therefore, we appeal to our colleagues of all nations to urge their governments and such organizations as PEN and Amnesty International (which in France has been active on Parajanov’s behalf) to protest against the restraints that the Soviet government has placed on Parajanov’s freedom to work, and to request that he be allowed to work again. He has paid the price that was exacted against him for his “crimes” and now we should like to see him resume his career as an artist. If that right is not restored, the alternative should be permission to emigrate—though he does not want to leave his native country, Parajanov is finding it increasingly unbearable to accept the violation of his right to peaceful expression. No other course of action makes rational sense and we urge those who feel the same way to make their views clear to their representatives.
Alaiya, Michael Arlen, Linda Bastian
Camille Billops, Vivian E. Browne
Judy Blum, Joseph Brodsky
Daniel J. Casey, Steve Fernandez
Charles Fishman, Mary Ann Gillies
James V. Hatch, Leo Hamalian
Patrick Meanor, Jonas Meikas
Herbert Marshall, Cynthia Mailman
Joel Oppenheimer, Judy Penzer
John Sayles, Sylvia Sleigh
Peter Sourian, Roger Tatarian
John Updike, Suzanne Zavrian