Contact: Margot Gerber

213.466.3456, ext. 115






Saturday, July 19th at Raleigh Studios

HOLLYWOOD -- The American Cinematheque in association with FilmForum presents RITUALS, METAPHORS, DANCES & DREAMS: THE FILMS OF AVANT-GARDE FILMMAKER MAYA DEREN on Saturday, July 19th. This two program retrospective will feature seven short films created by Maya Deren, a pioneer of the underground filmmaking movement that began in America in the 1940s. Deren’s films are typified by a fragmented structure, manipulation of space and time, a fluidity of visuals and an overall surreal, ethereal, dreamlike quality. In a contemporary comparison, her work is somewhat akin to David Lynch’s recent film LOST HIGHWAY. Deren’s best known short MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (1943), a surreal exploration of the inner experiences of a woman as revealed through a dream, will be featured in the retrospective as well as AT LAND (1944), A RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME (1945); STUDY in CHOREOGRAPHY FOR CAMERA (1945 and others. Avant-garde film scholar David James will introduce each program and Maya Deren’s longtime collaborator, Cherel Ito will speak following each program. Program A is at 7:15 PM and Program B is at 9:30 PM.

Deren came to the U.S with her parents in the mid-20’s. She studied at Syracuse University in New York where she received a degree in journalism and political science. Turning from poetry to film as a means of self-expression, she met her film collaborator, Czech documentary filmmaker, Alexander Hammid, who also

became her second husband in 1942. It was with Hammid, that Deren, at age twenty-six years old, created MESHES IN THE AFTERNOON. Throughout her life she wrote, directed, edited and often starred in a small, but cohesive body of work which frequently dealt with myth and psychoanalytic theory. She was a champion of the avant-garde film movement, tirelessly lecturing at schools and universities. Deren made films up until her untimely death in 1961 at the age of forty-four, leaving behind one last and unfinished work DIVINE HORSEMEN (1977), a film exploring Voudon (voodoo) ritual and dance. Deren’s legacy is meaningful as an artist who expressed herself as she wanted to – always working outside the commercial film industry – and as a woman, who examined female themes outside the patriarchal constraints of her time.

Of her work, Deren wrote, "My films are concerned with meanings – ideas and concepts – not with matter." She felt that the structure of her films were "a logic of ideas and qualities, rather than of causes and events."

Program A begins at 7:15 pm with MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (1943, Mystic Fire, 14 min.), Deren’s most famous work and part of a trilogy that includes ATLAND and TRANSFIGURED TIME. Set in a Hollywood Hills home, Deren plays the central figure, a woman caught up in an extended dream. "Meshes is, one might say, almost expressionist; it externalizes an inner world to the point where is is confounded with the external one. As our mind perceives the matters at hand, it possesses them as images, as the stuff of which it composes night and day dreams in the form of its desires and despairs" – Deren. Following is A STUDY IN CHOREOGRAPHY FOR CAMERA (1945, 4 min.) which was made in collaboration with dancer Talley Beatty. Dissatisfied with traditional filmed dance, Deren created a dance so related to camera and cutting that it could not be performed as a unit anywhere, but in this particular film. Following is ATLAND (1944, 15 min.) on which Deren commented, "has little to do with the inner world of the protagonist, it externalizes the hidden dynamics of the external world, and here the drama results from the activity of the external world." Following is RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME (1945-46, 15 min.) in which Deren expresses concepts regarding female sexuality and psyche by creating three esoteric, Greek myth-inspired figures. Following is MEDITATION ON VIOLENCE (1948, 12 min.) which represents the different philosophical attitudes behind several closely related forms of traditional Chinese boxing movements from the schools of Wu Tang and Shao Lin. The camera movement and the editing show the boxer transitioning

from a stance of inner calm (interpreted with a fluid camera motion) to a more frenetic

editing pace and camera style as the boxer moves more aggressively.

Program B begins at 9:45 PM with the DIVINE HORSEMEN (1977, 54 min.). During the years of 1947 to 1951, Maya Deren, already an initiate into the African-based religion of Voudon, journeyed to Haiti with her camera to film the "voodoo" practices. Produced by Deren’s collaborators, Teiri and Cherel Ito, with compiled footage from Deren, HORSEMAN depicts a fascinating world of Voudon practitioners, who invoke their gods -- gods that take possession of their devotees -- with chants, dances and ritual offerings." … the manifestation of rapture there that first fascinated and transported her beyond the bounds of any art she had ever known. " – Joseph Campbell. Following is THE VERY EYE OF NIGHT (1952-59, 15 min.), a choreographic collaboration with Anthony Tudor with music by Teiji Ito. "It is a ballet of night, entirely in the negative, in which the dancers are constellations, which orbit and revolve in the night sky." --- Maya Deren.

The order the films are listed in above is not necessarily the screening order.

For further information regarding this film program please contact Margot Gerber at (213) 466-3456, ext. 115. All films in this series are available for press preview on tape at the offices of the American Cinematheque. Please contact Brian or Margot at (213) 466-3456, ext. 116 or 115 to schedule a viewing appointment.

Admission for the general public is $7 and $4 for American Cinematheque Members. Separate admission for each screening.

Please note that tickets to our programs can be purchased through THEATIX (213) 466-1767. Our number (213) 466-FILM should be listed for further information only!

A complete calendar/flyer listing of these films has been mailed to you.

Our website has complete schedule information as well as updated changes to our schedule, announcements about special guests and information about the Egyptian Theater project. This press release is also online. To log on:

Established in 1984, the American Cinematheque, is a non-profit, viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all its forms. The Cinematheque presents weekly film and video programming which ranges from the classics and world cinemas to the outer frontiers of the art form at Raleigh Studios Charlie Chaplin Theater and other Los Angeles venues. Exhibition of rare works, special prints within our series, etc. are a Cinematheque tradition that keeps the avid film lover coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences. We also treat our audiences to fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work.

The American Cinematheque is currently working with the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City Los Angeles to develop the historic Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, which will become the American Cinematheque's permanent home and offer daily, year-round programming.

For information regarding the Alternative Screen or any other American Cinematheque event, please call (213) 466-FILM. THE PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.

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