When Tarkovsky inscribed and sent his child’s drawing to the imprisoned Parajanov who annotated and forwarded it to the blacklisted Vartanov for his son Martiros — Boy with a Movie Camera — he became their disciple.
His first film, The Last Film, was dedicated to them, and released by Criterion. He has also served as a juror and curator at festivals in Beverly Hills, Busan and DOC LA, and worked on the restoration of the masterpiece The Color of Pomegranates selected for Festival de Cannes.
Martiros Vartanov also presents the annual Parajanov-Vartanov Institute Awards whose recipients include Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan, Grammy-winning rock band System of a Down, and Academy Award-winning actress Emma Thompson. In addition, he programs the institute’s annual Los Angeles Documentary Film Festival — DOC LA.