Jun 14th 2023

The Films of Maya Deren

@ Comfort Station

2579 N Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL

Opening Wednesday, June 14th, from 8:30PM - 10PM

The Films of Maya Deren
1943 – 1959

Born in Kyiv to a prosperous Jewish family in the same year as the Russian Revolution, Maya Deren would study dance, Symbolist poetry, and voudou, fusing these disparate interests into a new template of personal filmmaking. After buying a used 16mm Bolex camera with inheritance proceeds, Deren and her husband Alexander Hammid created Meshes of the Afternoon, a spooky, small-gauge reverie that teased and tarnished the contours of Hollywood’s ‘women’s pictures,’ in their Laurel Canyon bungalow for $250. Now established as a canonical clarion of avant-garde film, Meshes was scarcely seen when new because there was no distribution or exhibition network for such a film—a literal “home movie” of infinite interior depths. Deren, who spent her college years as a Socialist agitator and activist, quickly began organizing: renting out theaters, posting flyers, promoting the hell out of herself and her new art form, and lecturing at any college or gallery that would allow her to set up a projector. Although Deren’s entire cinematic output could be viewed (twice!) in the time it takes to watch a modern comic book movie or an Alejandro González Iñárritu ego trip, her legacy as a boundless artist, bohemian entrepreneur, and instinctive scene-maker remains unsurpassed. Nowadays Deren’s films are most often encountered in the staid confines of a film studies class, but we’re showing these witchy landmarks where they belong: under the stars in 16mm, the very eye of night. (KW)

The program includes: Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, 14 min), At Land 1944, 15 min), A Study in Choreography for the Camera (1945, 3 min), Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946, 15 min), The Private Life of a Cat (1946, 22 min, preserved by Anthology Film Archives), The Very Eye of Night (1959, 15 min)

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