Maya Deren – born Eleanora Derenkowsky - born in Ukraine, was a film director and performer often called the "mother" of American avant-garde cinema. Her films, besides being poetic, are instructive, offering an intimate view of the human body and psyche, demonstrating the potential that cinema offers to explore these themes.
Maya directs five more films, that address the nature and process of transformation in dance, theme and concept that continues to explore creating a form of cinematic dance (rather than simply recording a performance). Antony Tudor choreographs her last two films, "Meditation on Violence" (1948) and "The Very Eye of Night" (1954).
In addition to her career as a director, Deren publishes in 1946 the theoretical work “An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film”. She has given numerous lectures, taught and written extensively about independent cinema. In order to promote cinema as an art and the avant-garde movement, he founded the Creative Film Foundation, which is dedicated to funding and supporting independent filmmakers.
WOMEN FILMMAKER PIONEERS
Meshes of the Afternoon
USA | 1943 | 14'09''
Meshes has been identified as a key example of the "trance film", in which a protagonist appears in a dreamlike state, and where the camera conveys his or her subjective focus. The central figure in Meshes of the Afternoon, played by Deren, is attuned to her unconscious mind and caught in a web of dream events that spill over into reality.
USA | 1944 | 14'
At Land has a dream-like narrative in which a woman, played by Deren, is washed up on a beach and goes on a strange journey encountering other people and other versions of herself. Deren once said that the film is about the struggle to maintain ones personal identity. The composer John Cage and the poet and film critic Parker Tyler were involved in making the film, and appear in the film.
Ritual in Transfigured Time
USA | 1946 | 14'
In Maya Deren's Ritual in Transfigured Time we have gestures that invite us to move into step with them, abandoning the comfort of the known and giving ourselves over to so many strange partners. This silent short begins in a domestic environment, moves to a party scene, and ends with modern dance performed in an outdoor setting. The film's continuity is established by an emphasis on gesture and/or dance throughout.