To the Editors:
Sergo Paradjanov, the film director (Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors) who has been hailed by film critics as the “greatest living genius of the Soviet cinema,” has been imprisoned in the Soviet Union since January 1974. Although sent to a labor camp ostensibly for homosexuality, Paradjanov is a prisoner because of his support of arrested intellectuals, his avant-garde filmmaking, and his outspoken criticism of the state of film-making in the USSR.
Continuing efforts are being made in the United States and abroad to gain his release. Petitions requesting amnesty for Paradjanov are now being submitted to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, and the Supreme Soviet of the Ukraine. Copies are also being sent to Soviet Party Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Philip T. Yermash, Soviet Minister of Cinematography, as well as Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General of the UN, and Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, Director General of UNESCO.
These petitions have already been signed by over 500 film directors, actors, critics, authors, professors, and students in the United States, including Marcel Ophuls, Gene Kelly, Susan Sontag, Martin Ritt, Robert De Niro, Burt Lancaster, Pauline Kael, Penelope Gilliatt, Vincent Canby, John Simon, Noam Chomsky, Philip Roth, John Updike, and I.F. Stone.
Internationally, Paradjanov has received support from such organizations as the International League for Human Rights, the Society of Filmmakers (France), and International PEN. In addition, he has the support of the world’s leading film directors, including François Truffaut, Federico Fellini, Jean Luc Godard, Luis Buñuel, Alain Resnais, Carlos Saura, Roberto Rossellini, Constantin Costa-Gavras, Michelangelo Antonioni, Joseph Losey, and Jacques Tati.
Amnesty was promised to non-dangerous prisoners by the Soviet government on the occasion of the celebration of the Thirty Years Victory over Fascism, but so far it has not been accorded to Paradjanov. If he is required to serve the rest of his sentence of five years hard labor, the world may lose an artist of genius.
The Paradjanov Amnesty Campaign
2205 42nd Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
February 3, 1977