In the Mirror of Maya Deren (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

In the Mirror of Maya Deren (2003)

In the Mirror of Maya Deren

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Maya Deren was one of the pioneering figures of avant-garde cinema in America and also a noted author, poet, anthropologist, and alternative cultural figure of the 1940s and 1950s. Born Eleanora Derenkovsky in 1917, her family fled Kiev in 1922 to avoid political and economic reprisals brought on by her father's association with Leon Trotsky. Settling in Syracuse, NY, the family shortened their name to Deren, and Eleanora developed a passionate interest in dance and literature. After receiving degrees in English Literature and Journalism, Deren relocated to Los Angeles, where she worked with the pioneering African-American choreographer Katherine Dunham and wrote an essay on "Religious Possession in Dancing." After marrying director Alexander Hackenschmied (aka Alexander Hammid), Deren bought a second-hand movie camera and made Meshes of the Afternoon, an award-winning and highly influential experimental film, the first of many she would direct. After adopting the name Maya (taken from the Buddha's mother), Deren traveled to Haiti, where she began work on a film about the Voudon (or Voodoo) religion, and with the assistance of Joseph Campbell, she wrote a pioneering book on the subject called Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. In the Mirror of Maya Deren is an ambitious documentary which examines the public and personal sides of Deren's life and work, including interviews with a number of friends and contemporaries, including Katherine Dunham, Stan Brakhage, Judith Malina, Alexander Hammid, and Jonas Mekas. The film also features an original score by noted experimental jazz composer John Zorn.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Television, Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Martina Kudlácek
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 27, 2004
Runtime:
Zeitgeist Films - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for In the Mirror of Maya Deren

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (10)

It does such a terrific job of showing us what Deren was like that it makes even the notion of a biopic about her seem unnecessary, if not ridiculous.

Full Review… | November 1, 2003
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Not only celebrates Deren's cinematic legacy but also reveals a gifted talent whose explosive temperament was at odds with the lyrical, dreamlike imagery she put on screen.

Full Review… | May 16, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Intimidated by the words 'avant-garde film'? Then hand yourself over, without reservation, to the skills of documentarian Martina Kudlacek and her astonishingly accessible primer, In the Mirror of Maya Deren.

Full Review… | February 14, 2003
Boston Globe
Top Critic

A long overdue documentary portrait of one of our most important avant-garde filmmakers.

February 5, 2003
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

It should please her admirers and, 40 years after her death, win her new ones.

January 24, 2003
New York Post
Top Critic

Refreshingly free of postmodernist theorizing and gender-study cant.

Full Review… | January 23, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for In the Mirror of Maya Deren

½

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[left]In The Mirror of Maya Deren is a solid documentary about a filmmaker I never knew much about, but seeked to discover. Thanks to the insightful documentary, I discovered a female filmmaker who made films using unique techniques that are attempted today. Her vision as a filmmaker is brilliantly depicted using clips from her films, sound clips of her philosophical beliefs and experiences, as well as interviews with several people involved with her at the peak of her career. Stan Brakhage was the filmmaker that most surprised me, since he admits he was indeed influenced by Deren's style. The film works overall, but there are several moments that drag-on preaching about the filmmaker rather than going more in depth on her personality. The structure of the film is also somewhat troubling, but doesn't really hurt the film overall. Kudos to Kudlacek for really capturing the essence of Deren's views of the world and humanity. I recommend the documentary to anyone interested in female filmmakers or experimental films. Deren was one of the first experimental filmmakers who's techniques several filmmakers use today.[/left]

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