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Thursday, August 09, 2018

The Surreal Worlds of Maya Deren

Up until a few days ago, I had no idea Maya Deren existed; today, I'm a huge fan. Deren was an experimental creator of short films, primarily active during the 1940s and 50s. I've now seen all 10 of her films, most about 15 minutes in length, her earlier work perhaps more gripping (to my tastes) than her later work. "Meshes of the Afternoon," above, feels like it was made in the late 1960s or early 1970s, not the mid-1940s; that's how far ahead of her time Deren was with regard to cinematography and editing and directorial techniques.

"At Land" is even cooler. Deren, as well as directing, plays the lost central figure.

Deren returns again in "Ritual in Transfigured Time." If you're of a mind to, you could consider these three shorts as a connected trilogy following the strange adventures of Deren's character.

All three films are well worth the time invested in screening them, particularly anyone who loves horror, surrealism, and film noir, or anyone interested in the impact of women filmmakers.

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