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Abbas Mirza Sharifzadeh
Abbas Mirza Sharifzadeh

Abbas Mirza Abdulrasul oglu Sharifzadeh (Sharifov) (Azerbaijani: Abbas Mirzə Şərifzadə) (22 March 1893, Shamakhi – 16 November 1938, Baku) was an Azerbaijani actor, film director and film editor, and Honoured Artist of the Azerbaijan SSR (1935).

Acting career

Abbas Mirza Sharifzadeh was born into a family of a teacher, who taught at Seyid Azim Shirvani's Usul-i Jadid school. After the 1902 Shamakhi earthquake, the family moved to Baku, where Sharifzadeh became a member of a drama club at his school.

In 1908, he started acting in serious plays. But he had not gained fame until a successful portrayal of Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar in Abdurrahim bey Hagverdiyev's play of the same name in 1911. Not having received any professional training in dramatic arts Sharifzadeh was remembered for his outstanding performance of primary roles in stagings of both local and Western pieces.[1]

Sharifzadeh first appeared on screen in the 1916 Russian movie Knyaz Temir-Bulat. In 1924, he played the role of the Khan in the Azerbaijani film Baygush ("Owl"). His other notable role was in the movie Avaz-avaza ("An eye for an eye") in 1929.[1]

Career as a director

Abbas Mirza Sharifzadeh directed both feature films and documentaries. The former directed by him include Bismillah ("In the Name of God", 1925), Haji Gara (1929) and Mahabbat oyunu ("The Game of Love", 1935); and the latter, Azerbaijana sayahat ("A Journey to Azerbaijan", 1924) and Shakhsei-vakhsei (1929).[1]

Arrest and execution

On 4 December 1937, at the peak of the Great Purge, Sharifzadeh was arrested in his own apartment on the counts of espionage. The evidence used against him were his frequent visits to the Iranian consulate in Ganja in 1932. The real reason for those visits, according to his colleagues, were friendly relations between a group of stage actors, of which Sharifzadeh was part, and the Iranian consul who admired Azerbaijani theatre and would often invite them for reunions. His émigré brother's active role in the formation of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918–20 contributed to the government's will to get rid of the actor.

Sharifzadeh was also accused of promoting via theatre the works of the earlier arrested poets Mikayil Mushfig and Huseyn Javid (the former would later be executed and the latter would be exiled to Siberia). On 19 October 1938 he was found guilty on all charges and executed by firing squad less than a month later.[1] He was exonerated posthumously after Joseph Stalin's death.

Personal life

Sharifzadeh was married to Hanifa Akchurina, but later lived with actress Marziyya Davudova and they were great-grandparents of Eurovision 2011 winner Eldar Gasimov.

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