“Parajanov represents eighteenth-century Armenia as the backwoods crossroads of Eurasia”, film critic J. Hoberman wrote when he reviewed The Color of Pomegranates (1968) in the early eighties. “Any one of its linked tableaux is a startling combination of Byzantine flatness, Quattrocento beatifics, and Islamic symmetry.” Even though Parajanov himself was only allowed to travel beyond the Soviet Union two years before his death in 1990, the Armenian-born artist was an epitome of multipolar cultures that transcended the boundaries of Soviet states, both geographically and institutionally. A small retrospective of Parajanov’s collage-like films kicks off SILK ROAD SIDEWAYS, the film program Electric Shadows, a newly founded festival at De Cinema, proposes in parallel with the exhibition ‘Eurasia. A Landscape of Mutability’ at M HKA. 

Parajanov’s work forms a non-conformist gateway to the exchange of shapes and ideas across the vast Eurasian continent. Offering a sidelong glance at the Silk Road, an artery connecting cultural as well as political interests in past, present, and future, the film series explores a variety of themes related to migration, myths and modernity. Such directors as Toshio Matsumoto, Alexander Kluge & Khavn, René Viénet, Ann Hui, Chantal Akerman, and Ben Rivers & Anocha Suwichakornpong grapple with inappropriate appropriation and complex identities, while wandering between a world that once was and one that is yet to be. Their films challenge the notion that East and West never meet, while steering clear from globalist uniformity.

With SILK ROAD SIDEWAYS, Electric Shadows wants to challenge unilateral approaches of Eurasian connections and instead welcomes impure crossings and thoughtful confrontations.

The SILK ROAD SIDEWAYS program will run in De Cinema, Antwerp, from October 2021 until January 2022
October Program: When the Twain Did Meet
November Program: Apropos Appropriation
December Program: Waves of the New World
January Program: Coast to Coast