Past Event

The Invention of Independent Cinema: A Celebration of Maya Deren and Her Works from 1917-1961

May 4, 2018
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Studio-X Istanbul Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi 35A Istanbul

Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul invites you to a conversation between Richard Peña, Columbia University professor and legendary director of New York Film Festival, and Ela Başak Atakan ('96 AR), lecturer in the Media and Visual Arts Department at Koç University, on "The Invention of Independent Cinema; A Celebration of Maya Deren and Her Works from 1917-1961," on Friday, May 4 at 6 pm at Columbia University's Studio-X Istanbul office. 

* Presenting: A selection of Maya Deren tribute short films directed by Koç University Media and Visual Arts students will run in Studio-X Istanbul throughout May 4th.

About the Talk

Unsettling, enigmatic, provocative: the short films of Maya Deren are among the treasures of American cinema, deeply influential to several generations of filmmakers and just as daring when seen today as when they were first screened. Yet Deren’s importance goes beyond her artistic brilliance: unable to find a venue in New York to screen her work, she rented her own theater, installed a projector and a screen, and advertised her show through small ads and flyers. To everyone’s amazement, the program was a huge hit, and was repeated over several weekends. Deren’s daring, and success, encouraged other independent filmmakers to screen their works, and thus began the creation of an entire alternative network of distributors, exhibition spaces and even producers, a development with which Deren was passionately involved until her untimely death in 1961. This talk will explore the life and achievement of Maya Deren, screening and analyzing several of her short works, as well as placing her art and activities within the context of postwar America.

Richard Peña received his degree in film studies at Harvard University. Professor Peña has had a long-lasting career as the Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in international cinema and film theory. From 1988 until 2012, he was Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Professor Peña is the Director Emeritus of New York Film Festival, which he chaired for 25 years. He is currently a member of the selection committee at Rome International Film Festival as well as the guest curator at Doha Film Institute. For more information, click here.

Ela Başak Atakan (’96 AR) holds a BA in English from Amherst College and an MFA in Film from Columbia University. She has directed numerous music videos in Turkey and written several feature screenplays including: Night and the Fog, an adaptation, the recipient of a Eurimages grant (1997) Death’s Handwriting, and adaptation, produced for Turkish TV (1999) Albatros Come Home!, a Nantucket Film Festival finalist (1996), a Slamdance quarter-finalist and a Sundance Writer’s Lab finalist (2002), Kısmet Massachusetts, a Sundance Writer’s Lab finalist (2003). She currently teaches film at Koç University. For more information, click here.