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Program VI: The Legend of Maya Deren
Saturday, March 29, 2003, Museum of Theatre, St. Petersburg and Thursday, April 3, 2003, Museum of Cinema, Moscow

In the Mirror of Maya Deren by 104min, 2001 (Austria)
Director: Martina Kudlácek; Procuder: Johannes Rosenberger
Distributor: Navigator Films

photo: Navigator Films
Maya Deren (Eleanora Derenkovskaya), a mother of the American Avant-Garde cinema and dance film as a genre, ethnographer, philosopher and a dancer, was born in Kiev on April 29, 1917. By 1922, pogroms, the economy and her father's political proximity to Trotsky forced her family to flee and settle in Syracuse, New York. Deren studied journalism and literature and became a personal secretary to the Black dancer, choreographer and anthropologist Katherine Dunham. With Dunham she also took dance classes and got exposure to Voodoo dances of Haiti. In 1943, Deren took on a new name: Maya (the name of Buddha's mother, as well as an ancient word for "water" and the "veil of illusion" in Hindu mythology).

Deren’s marriage to Alexander Hammid, a Czech émigré and a filmmaker, gave birth to her first film “Meshes in the Afternoon” that to this day has been one of the most significant works of avant-garde cinema.

No less importantly, Deren was the first to articulate the principles of creating dance films in a form of the philosophical essays and distinguish dance film as a particular film genre. In 1945 she created “A Study of Choreography for the Camera”, a four-minute film with Talley Beatty within which “a dance is so related to camera and cutting that it cannot be “performed” as a unit anywhere but in this particular film” (Maya Deren, “Choreography for the Camera”, Dance Magazine, 1945).

In “In The Mirror of Maya Deren”, Matrina Kudlacek uses footage from Deren’s mesmerizing films along with archival audio interviews from her contemporaries such as experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, dance pioneer Katherine Dunham, actress and Living Theatre cofounder Judith Malina, and critics Amos Vogel and Jonas Mekas. Kudlacek glimpses into life of this reminiscent and influential artist and, at the same, creates a portrait of the times she lived through.

Born in Vienna in 1965, Martina Kudlácek studied theater, film and media arts and art history at the University of Vienna, Austria. She received Bacherlor degree in Cinematography and Masters degree in Directing for documentary films at the Film and TV Academy in Prague, Czech Republic. The focus of her work are experiments in photography, super-8 and 16mm, and in video. Between 1997-98 she lectured as a fellow at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne. Within the last five years, Martina worked as a researcher in Anthology Film Archives and as an assistant for preservation projects to the director and filmmaker Jonas Mekas.

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© Kinodance–Russia, 2004