Past Event

São Paulo | Inventing the Independent Cinema - a celebration of Maya Deren

August 28, 2017
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Academia Internacional de Cinema (AIC) - São Paulo
Maya Deren

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. Attracted to the radical politics of the Depression-era, Deren worked as a political organizer until deciding to devote herself to poetry, dance and later photography, becoming part of the New York bohemian art scene. But it was only with her meeting and subsequent marriage to Alexander Hammid in 1940 that Deren discovered the cinema; together, they created Meshes of the Afternoon in 1943, the work which more than any other launched the American avant-garde cinema. Several other films, these created by Deren herself, followed in quick succession, 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 three of her films (Meshes of the Afternoon, At Land, A Study of Choreography for the Camera), as well as placing her art and activities within the context of postwar America.

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Richard Peña

Richard Peña has been at Columbia since 1989, becoming full time in 1996 and being named Professor of Professional Practice in 2003; from 2006 - 2009 was a Visiting Professor in Spanish at Princeton University. Mr. Peña has also served as the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival from 1988 to 2012. At the Film Society, he has organized retrospectives of Michelangelo Antonioni, Sacha Guitry, Abbas Kiarostami, Robert Aldrich, Gabriel Figueroa, Ritwik Ghatak, Kira Muratova, Youssef Chahine, Yasujiro Ozu, Carlos Saura and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as major film series devoted to African, Chinese, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Arab, Korean, Japanese Soviet and Argentine cinema. He is also currently the co-host of Channel 13’s weekly Reel 13.