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Sergei Parajanov & Dod Abashidze
Georgia, 1988

While my year began with heartbreak and confusion, it didnít end like that. Smiled upon by the grace of fateís toothy face, I met a wonderful, enchanting woman with a keen sense of the absurd and a giddy taste for cinematic adventure. I knew I was smitten when we spent an elated evening on her couch watching Sergei Parajanovís bewildering love story, Ashik Kerib, over a bottle of wine. Ashik Kerib, like Parajanovís other work, is elliptical, mysterious, and ecstatically consumed by the ritualism of its visual symbols. Ostensibly a story about a poor minstrel who is prohibited from marrying the daughter of a wealthy merchant until he makes good, Ashik Kerib is really about rugs and swans and pomegranates and tiger costumes and the color red and mustaches and endless dancing. I loved this movie as much as I loved the romance of watching it, of laughing and losing myself and turning around to be astonished anew by Parajanovís visionary cinematography. I havenít stopped smiling since.