Martina Kudlácek – Im Spiegel der Maya Deren AKA In the mirror of Maya Deren (2002)

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With IN THE MIRROR OF MAYA DEREN, documentary filmmaker Martina Kudlácek has fashioned not only fascinating portrait of a groundbreaking and influential artist, but a pitch-perfect introduction to her strikingly beautiful and poetic body of work. Crowned “Fellini and Bergman wrapped in one gloriously possessed body” by the L.A. Weekly, Maya Deren is arguably the most important and innovative avant-garde filmmaker in the history of American cinema. Using locations from the Hollywood hills to Haiti, Deren made such mesmerizing films as AT LAND, RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME and her masterpiece MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON Continue reading

Maya Deren – The Very Eye of Night (1958)

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Maya Deren, one of the first and most innovative of American experimental filmmakers, made this, her last complete film, in 1958 — one of her best. Still hopeful of making new films, Deren left unfinished Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, which was shot between 1947 and 1954, and only completed by Teiji and Cherel Ito in 1985, many years after her death in 1961, at the age of 44.

The Very Eye of Night has gotten a bad rap over the years, when compared to her landmark Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), but it doesn’t deserve it. In The Very Eye of Night, Deren finally figures out how to effortlessly make bodies float through space, to mesh the camera with the bodies of the dancers she records, and to create an ethereal, otherworldly series of images that lead the receptive viewer into her own personal dream world. Continue reading

Maya Deren – Witch’s Cradle (1944)

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Witches’ Cradles

In Search of an Altered State
“During the witchcraft persecutions in Europe, Inquisitors are said to have sometimes put an accused witch in a bag, which was strung up over the limb of a tree and set swinging. When witches’ learnt about this punishment they experimented with it themselves and found that the sensory deprivation or confusion of senses induced hallucinatory experiences. A similar swinging motion has long been used by shamans and dervishes and is sometimes known as ‘dervish-dangling’.”

– Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology
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Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid – Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

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Description: A solitary flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a phone off the hook: discordant images a woman sees as she comes home. She naps and, perhaps, dreams. She sees a hooded figure going down the driveway. The knife is on the stair, then in her bed. The hooded figure puts the flower on her bed then disappears. The woman sees it all happen again. Downstairs, she naps, this time in a chair. She awakes to see a man going upstairs with the flower. He puts it on the bed. The knife is handy. Can these dream-like sequences end happily? A mirror breaks, the man enters the house again. Will he find her? Continue reading