Ashik Kerib (1988) is Sergei Parajanov’s last completed film. It is based on an Azeri love story, a fairy tale by Paradjanov’s favorite Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov. Ashik Kerib was selected by Venice Film Festival, New York Film Festival, and won the European Film Academy Award (Felix). Ashik Kerib is dedicated to Andrei Tarkovsky.
The most memorable screening of Ashik Kerib for me took place in the Czech Republic some years ago during a Parajanov Retrospective which also included the Czech premiere of Mikhail Vartanov’s’s Parajanov: The Last Spring.
Vartanov introduced all of Paradjanov’s major films except Ashik Kerib because we had to leave before the screening to make our flight. Since the 35mm print had no Czech or English subtitles, our translator had the unenviable task of dubbing it live right in the theater.
She asked me to watch the film very early that morning and help her understand any difficult parts so she could be ready to do it live later that evening. We sat in the center of the empty theater and watched Parajanov’s last masterpiece occasionally whispering our thoughts, questions and explanations to each other. Now I only wish that we had changed our flight and stayed for that screening of Ashik Kerib because I’ll never see it dubbed live.