Maya Deren’s films have been widely acknowledged as being amongst the most influential American experimental films of the 1940s and 50s.
Initially her creative focus was on dance and poetry (particularly surrealism). But by the early 1940s, freed by the emergence and accessibility of 16mm film, Deren had started work as a filmmaker producing a small but defining contribution to new experimental cinema.
Infused with her own highly developed theory of film, her work often constructs dream-like, sometimes nightmarish, experimental narrative forms around shifting frames of time and space.
Deren was a pioneer in exploring concepts of film, identity, realism, femininity and feminism. Her work has been visually referenced by many major filmmakers, including David Lynch.
Deren was an immigrant whose family fled anti-Jewish unrest in Ukraine in 1921. Born Eleanora Derenkowskaia, her family anglicised their surname to Deren upon arrival in the US, and some years later Eleanore changed her name to Maya – suitably and symbolically, the dharmic concept of the illusory nature of reality, and of Buddha’s mother.
Deren was the first filmmaker to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship (for “Creative Work in the Field of Motion Pictures,”) and she won the Grand Prix Internationale for 16mm experimental film at the Cannes Film Festival for ‘Meshes of the Afternoon’.
Deren also became a significant field recorder of Haitian voodoo spending long periods of time in Haiti at the end of the 1940s.
This programme will feature full showings of four key Deren films –
Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
At Land (1944)
Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946)
Meditation on Violence (1949)