Surreal Screen

As a onetime Trotskyist and confederate of Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Anaïs Nin, and André Breton, filmmaker Maya Deren loathed Tinseltown. Until her sudden death at 44 (due to extreme malnutrition and amphetamine use), she railed against social, political, and creative restraint of Hollywood. In 1947, her first movie, Meshes of the Afternoon, with its iconic images — a Grim Reaper with mirrored face, a falling key — won the Grand Prix Internationale at Cannes for experimental film. During the same year, the director used her Guggenheim Fellowship to travel to Haiti, where she became a Voudoun priestess and wrote a definitive study of voodoo rituals, Divine Horsemen: the Living Gods of Haiti. This was but a beginning. The American Film Institute now recognizes Deren’s impact on cinema with an award given in her name, but her influence remains most palpable in the films of directors like David Lynch, who use the medium to evoke the interior landscapes of the human mind. "From Dada to Maya" places her work in the company of two of the first Surrealist films, Hans Richter’s 1928 Ghost Before Breakfast and Man Ray’s 1923 Return to Reason. Live soundtracks by Reel Change accompany the films.
Sat., Feb. 21, 8 p.m., 2009

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