This year’s ‘Prism’ program honors the centennial of Maya Deren and her legacy: experimental films by women. A pioneer of independent and experimental cinema, Deren made short poetic films on 16mm decades before the Underground Cinema became widespread. She wrote books on film theory and organized her own screenings and distribution. In this way, she single-handedly created the cooperative system that filmmakers still use today.
The first section showcases Maya Deren’s films, from her first in 1943 to her last in 1959 before her untimely death at age 44. A creative documentary by Barbara Hammer will accompany this screening.
The second section features a panorama of filmic creations by women, inspired by Maya Deren and her founding of the first distribution network for independent film that would eventually lead to the founding of the New American Cinema Group. Although these films were made using different techniques, in different countries, with different expressions and styles, they all offer a personal vision, poems in time and space as seen through the eye of the camera.
The third section features seven animated films by women exploring diverse aspects of personal expression from a female perspective. Intensely introspective, they focus on an interior mental landscape, even as they reference vastly different kinds of imagery, from cartoon landscapes, to video games to outer space. The stamp of Maya Deren’s artistic freedom and daring along with the rigor of her craft can be felt throughout these works.