Maya Deren – Maya Deren was one of the most important experimental filmmakers in the 1940s and 1950s. She was also a choreographer, dancer, film theorist, poet lecturer, writer and photographer.
She believed that the aim of her films were to create an experience, of what each would create new conclusions, letting her focus to be dynamic and evolving.
As a young woman, she studied journalism and political science, and then moved on to study politics at Syracuse University. In 1936, she then transferred to New York University where she was awarded her undergraduate degree. She also completed a Masters Degree in English Literature and Symbolist Poetry in 1939.
One of her most influential experimental films was ‘Meshes of the Afternoon’, which she created with Alexander Hammid. She also created many of her own films including ‘At Land’ and “A Study in Choreography for Camera’. As well as creating films, she also starred in them. However, she never credited herself as an actress, but instead played anonymous roles.
‘Meshes of the Afternoon’ was created in a wartime environment, reflecting symbolically throughout the mise-en-scene. The film sets an atmosphere creating a feeling of paranoia and dis-trust, with the presence of a hooded figure. The hooded figure also adds another dimension, reflecting back the identity of those who look into her eyes.
Thomas Schatz categorizes Meshes of the Afternoon as the first example of a ‘poetic psychodrama’. He says that it ‘emphasized a dreamlike quality…and used logic from the conventions of Hollywood realisim’.