In the Mirror of Maya Deren

Dir: Martina Kudlacek
2003
A gift from my buddy William (along with a Brakhage documentary I haven’t watched yet).
For those of us who know Maya Deren from her short body of work (but what films they are!) and some of her writings, this documentary allows us a glimpse into the world of the first major woman filmmaker and one of the most important experimental directors of the 20th century. She was a proto-hippy, a proto-feminist with her wild hair, Spanish dresses, and deep interest in other cultures (mainly Haiti). According to Brakhage, who is interviewed here and talks in a most wonderful voice, Deren got so involved in Haitain Voudou that she could call the spirits, and even cursed Brakhage with ill health when he was late to a show. And I believe it too.
For me, I would have liked a bit more on “Meshes of the Afternoon,” which inspires me everytime I watch it. I’ve heard it was shot either up around Mulholland Drive or Laurel Canyon. That long, long curving road speaks to me of a dream from childhood–familiar yet strange. Surely somebody knows that address.
Despite being a visionary and responsible for getting experimental film shown in the States, she died young (45, I believe) and poor, unable to scrape together the cash to finish the movies she was planning and working on. We get some tittilating shots of rolls and rolls of film sitting in her film archives, but very little of the footage itself. She burned brightly and fiercely and then was gone. Damn.

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