Maya Deren’s work as a filmmaker, programmer, writer, ethnographer, and lecturer became a catalyst for an entire movement of avant-garde cinema in the US, which still reverberates today with many filmmakers—and in particular, women filmmakers—and those working in an experimental mode.
Equally a pioneer of screendance filmmaking, this evening of short films begins with her lesser-understood The Very Eye of Night (1959), Deren’s last film completed before her death in 1961. A collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School and choreographer Anthony Tudor, Deren filmed dance students in reverse negative to create a seemingly mythological space where white silhouettes magically glide through the starry night sky. Deren called it her “ballet of night.”
Other works include the highly symbolic Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), considered one of the most influential works in American avant-garde cinema and a key example of the “trance film;” At Land (1944); The Witch’s Cradle (1943); and an intimate study of the birth of a litter of kittens shot at a “cat’s-eye view,” The Private Life of a Cat (1944).
Included in this program:
The Very Eye of Night, 1959 (15 mins., 16mm)
The Witch’s Cradle, 1943 (12 mins., 16mm)
The Private Life of a Cat, 1944, dir. Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid (28 mins, 16mm-to-HD)
At Land, 1944 (14 mins., 16mm)
Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943 dir. Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid (14 mins., 16mm)
See more Maya Deren this weekend in the program Maya Deren’s Divine Horsemen + Two Shorts.