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6 Filmmaking Tips from Maya Deren

We celebrate the experimental cinema legend for her centennial.

This Saturday is the 100th anniversary of Maya Deren’s birth, making it a time to honor the filmmaker, her work, and her significance and legacy within not just the arena of experimental cinema but film history in general. Regardless of the surreal, poetic content of her films, which include Meshes of the Afternoon (with husband Alexander Hammid) and At Land, she’s important as a pioneer and theorist of independent film. It’s mostly through the latter that we can find her filmmaking advice and lessons, all of them more than 50 years old but still relevant to aspiring cinema artists today. Here are six of the tips, collected from her writings, lectures, and interviews:

1. Amateur Filmmaking is for Lovers

If you’re looking for advice on breaking into Hollywood, Deren’s tips are not for you. She was a big proponent of “amateur” filmmaking, which
See full article at FilmSchoolRejects »

Watch: Connecting the Dots Between David Lynch and Maya Deren

“As many viewers of Maya Deren‘s Meshes of the Afternoon and David Lynch‘s Mulholland Drive have recognized, there are many similarities between these two filmmakers,” writes Joel Bocko over at Fandor Keyframe. “An ordinary key is charged with dangerous supernatural power; characters multiply, bending space and time; an Angeleno atmosphere in which daydream becomes nightmare — these are just a few of Meshes‘ and Lynch’s common touchstones.” This video finds the visual connections between Lynch’s work from Twin Peaks onwards and Deren’s best-known short.
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Ranks The 20 Greatest Films Directed By Women

  • The Playlist
Since Mary Pickford began United Artists in 1919 with her then-husband Douglas Fairbanks and their friends Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, the idea of women in film has propelled not just from starring in or writing films, but producing, directing, and creating a cinematic universe of their own. The topic rings perhaps even more relevant today, as the issue of equal pay and proper roles for women in the industry remains unsolved and in need of a drastic, timely change. Read More: Jennifer Lawrence Talks Gender Pay Inequality In a new video essay by Fandor, other directors were asked to pick their favorite films directed by women and be ranked from 20-to-1. The list spans decades, going as far back as 1943 to Maya Deren’s “Meshes of the Afternoon,” a circular, surrealist masterpiece, and as recent as the brilliant Kelly Reichardt’s 2011 western drama “Meek’s Cutoff.” The ever-inspirational and paramount
See full article at The Playlist »

Daily | Cine-Files, Silver, Lynch/Rivette

  • Keyframe
In the new issue of The Cine-Files, professors candidly discuss teaching single films. You'll find pieces on Hollywood classics (Casablanca, Pillow Talk), experimental landmarks (Meshes of the Afternoon), even television (The Wire). Also in today's roundup: Nathan Silver's Stinking Heaven, Simon Callow's Orson Welles biography, a new book on Harry Lange's designs for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, lists of best TV shows (Slant goes for Hannibal and Hitfix for The Leftovers), Karina Longworth on Gloria Grahame, news of forthcoming films from George Clooney and Anton Corbijn's next project, and the first trailer for Steven Spielberg's The Bfg. » - David Hudson
See full article at Keyframe »

The 20 Greatest Films Directed by Female Filmmakers

“Criminally unfair. Those are the two words that spring to mind when I consider the fate of female directors throughout the short history of the cinematic medium. Not enough opportunity. Appalling sexism. Terrible chance and circumstances, coupled with biases, slander and mistrust,” our friend Scout Tafoya stated when asking a group of critics for their favorite films directed by female filmmakers. He added, “When I began asking for these lists from all the critics below many replied reluctantly. Their reasoning that so many of their films would be modern, that so many of the classics would be homogenous, is not without justification. But it’s no one’s fault that we all fall back on the same seven classics.”

He continues, “It’s a worldwide shortage of support and funding for female artists. It’s a lack of distribution of more esoteric work by women. It’s many major film
See full article at The Film Stage »

6 Avant-Garde Female Filmmakers Who Redefined Cinema

  • Indiewire
6 Avant-Garde Female Filmmakers Who Redefined Cinema
Read More: Remembering Chantal Akerman: 8 Films Now Streaming Online Maya DerenIt's nearly impossible to begin a discussion on experimental film without including Maya Deren, whose foremost 1943 film "Meshes of the Afternoon" has become one of the most influential and important works in the early experimental movement. Shot on 16mm with a windfall she received after her father's tragic death, the film was one of the first to employ narrative structure in an experimental framework, helping to change the cinematic landscape of avant-garde film and cementing Deren as an indispensable participant in the practice of experimental media. A vocal supporter of independent film, famously stating, "I make my films for what Hollywood spends on lipstick," Deren was a pioneer of the Diy film movement and is, for many, the definitive mother of experimental and avant-garde film. Barbara HammerBarbara Hammer’s introduction to the world of cinema was a bit...
See full article at Indiewire »

Masterworks of American Avant-Garde Experimental Film 1920-1970

Get your beret and warm up the espresso! Some of the most famous deep-dish art film is here -- in HD -- starting with attempts to translate various art 'isms' to the screen, to graphics-oriented abstractions, to 'city symphonies' to the dream visions of Maya Deren and beyond. The careful remasters reproduce proper projection speeds and original music.   Masterworks of American Avant-Garde Experimental Film 1920-1970 Blu-ray + DVD Flicker Alley 1920-1970 / B&W and Color / 1:33 full frame / 418 min. / Street Date October 6, 2015 / 59.95 With films by James Agee, Kenneth Anger, Bruce Baillie, Stan Brakhage, James Broughton, Rudolph Burckhardt, Mary Ellen Bute, Joseph Cornell, Jim Davis, Maya Deren, Marcel Duchamp, Emien Etting, Oksar Fischinger, Robert Florey, Amy Greenfield, A. Hackenschmied, Alexander Hammid, Hillary Harris, Hy Hirsh, Ian Hugo, Lawrence Janiac, Lawrence Jordan, Owen Land, Francis Lee, Fernand Léger, Helen Levitt, Jan Leyda, Janice Loeb, Jonas Mekas, Marie Menken, Dudley Murphy, Ted Nemeth, Bernard O'Brien,
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

BBC Culture curates 100 best American films, courtesy of 62 international film critics

BBC Culture has this week unveiled a new list of the top 100 American films, as voted for by a pool of international film critics from across the globe. The format of the poll was that any film that would make the list had to have recieved funding from a Us source, and the directors of the films did not need to be from the USA, nor did the films voted for need to be filmed in the Us.

Critics were asked to submit their top 10 lists, which would try to find the top 100 American films that while “not necessarily the most important, but the greatest on an emotional level”. The list, as you may have guessed, is very different to the lists curated by say the BFI or AFI over the years, so there are certainly a few surprises on here, with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave (2013), Terrence Malick
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Scratching our heads at the BBC's top 100 American Movies of All-Time

  • Hitfix
Scratching our heads at the BBC's top 100 American Movies of All-Time
First off, let's make one thing clear. We're not scratching our heads at Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" making the BBC's 100 greatest American films. That movie, of which an image accompanies this post, not only made the list, but ranked appropriately at no. 25. It's the rest of the selections that have us scratching and, yes, shaking our heads in disbelief. A wonderful page view driver, these sorts of lists make great fodder for passionate movie fans no matter what their age or part of the world they hail from. There is nothing more entertaining than watching two critics from opposite ends of the globe try to debate whether "The Dark Knight" should have been nominated for best picture or make a list like this. Even in this age of short form content where Vines, Shapchats and Instagram videos have captured viewers attention, movies will continue to inspire because
See full article at Hitfix »

'Citizen Kane' Tops BBC's List of "100 Greatest American Films", Where Does Your Favorite Landc

Leave it to the Brits to compile a list of the best American films of all-time. BBC Culture has published a list of what it calls "The 100 Greatest American Films", as selected by 62 international film critics in order to "get a global perspective on American film." As BBC Culture notes, the critics polled represent a combination of broadcasters, book authors and reviewers at various newspapers and magazines across the world. As for what makes an American filmc "Any movie that received funding from a U.S. source," BBC Culture's publication states, which is to say the terminology was quite loose, but the list contains a majority of the staples you'd expect to see. Citizen Kane -- what elsec -- comes in at #1, and in typical fashion The Godfather follows at #2. Vertigo, which in 2012 topped Sight & Sound's list of the greatest films of all-time, comes in at #3 on BBC Culture's list.
See full article at Rope Of Silicon »

BBC Names 100 Greatest U.S. Films

Every now and then a major publication or news organisation comes up with a top fifty or one hundred films of all time list - a list which always stirs up debate, discussion and often interesting arguments about the justifications of the list's inclusions, ordering and notable exclusions.

Today it's the turn of BBC Culture who consulted sixty-two international film critics including print reviews, bloggers, broadcasters and film academics to come up with what they consider the one-hundred greatest American films of all time. To qualify, the film had to be made by a U.S. studio or mostly funded by American money.

Usually when a list of this type is done it is by institutes or publications within the United States asking American critics their favourites. This time it's non-American critics born outside the culture what they think are the best representations of that culture. Specifically they were asked
See full article at Dark Horizons »

Underground Film History 1947: Silent Movies Will Thrill, Will Chill Museum Members

From The Berkshire Evening Eagle, August 1, 1947:

Photo caption: Maya Deren: Looking for a flying saucer?

The samples of modern “art” which demand (and are given) a thousand lines of carefully written prose to explain the artist’s meaning have nothing on three short films to be shown tonight at the Berkshire Museum as one of the features of members’ night. Maya Deren, who conceived and is featured in each of the silent strips of acetate sent along a few pages to explain what the spectator will see tonight.

She writes of the first film, “Meshes of the Afternoon,” “It is concerned with the relationship between the imaginative and objective reality. The film begins in actuality and eventually ends there. But, in the meantime, the imagination, here given as a dream, intervenes. It seizes upon a casual incident and elaborating it into critical proportions, thrusts back into reality the product of its convolutions.
See full article at Underground Film Journal »

Melbourne Fringe festival: 10 things to see

The next big things in comedy, theatre, dance, art, film and music feature in a packed programme

Every September the Melbourne Fringe festival lurches over the horizon. Last year, 3400 independent artists mounted shows in more than 147 venues across Melbourne, ranging across visual arts, film, music and every kind of performance you could shake a stick at. And then there's the after-show parties at the Fringe Club and the Warren. Between now and 6 October, you need never go home.

The Fringe is proudly open access, so make it part of your schedule to see some artists you've never heard of before: they might be the next big thing. Choosing among hundreds of acts is tough, but I screwed up my courage, plunged into the programme and excavated some promising acts. Here, in no particular order, are my top 10 picks.

Yes Dance

Choreographer Rennie McDougall is one of the up-and-coming talents of the Melbourne dance scene.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Pictures of Superheroes

In the classic underground movie book Visionary Film, historian P. Adams Sitney coined the term “trance film” to describe the primary type of post-wwii avant-garde cinema that was in vogue at the time. In Sitney’s view, short movies such as Maya Deren‘s Meshes of the Afternoon, Kenneth Anger‘s Fireworks and Stan Brakhage‘s Flesh of Morning all feature somnambulist protagonists wandering through surrealist nightmare worlds of their own psyche.

Movies featuring sleepwalking main characters are, of course, the antithesis of popular mainstream entertainment, which at all times attempts to thrill the masses with tales of heroes of extraordinary abilities doing amazing things.

Flash forward about 70 years and Don Swaynos‘ debut feature film, the surrealist comedy Pictures of Superheroes, doesn’t quite fit Sitney’s “trance” mold, but it’s main character, professional cleaning woman Marie (Kerri Lendo), does appear to be sleepwalking through her life. The film
See full article at Underground Film Journal »

Greatest Films Directed By Women – Individual Staff List

Justine Smith

Bright Star, Jane Campion

Orlando, Sally Potter

Trouble Every Day, Claire Denis

Cleo 5 a 7, Agnes Varda

A New Leaf, Elaine May

The Night Porter, Liliana Cavani

American Psycho, Mary Harron

Anatomy of Hell, Catherine Breillat

Point Break, Kathryn Bigelow

Everyone Else, Maren Ade

Ricky D

Connection, Shirley Clarke

Wuthering Heights, Andrea Arnold

35 Shots of Rhum, Claire Denis

Meshes of the Afternoon, Maya Derin

Seven Beauties, Lina Wertmuller

The Hitch-Hiker, Ida Lupino

Lina Wertmuller- Swept Away

Meek’s Cutoff, Kelly Reichardt

Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel

Xxy, Lucía Puenzo

Special mention:

SkyscraperShirley Clarke

WaspAndrea Arnold

On Dangerous GroundIda Lupino (uncredited)

Wanda

Chris Clemente

Little Miss Sunshine, Valerie Faris

American Psycho, Mary Harron

Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola

We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay

Fish Tank, Andrea Arnold

Monster, Patty Jenkins

A League of Their Own, Penny Marshall

Wayne’s World, Penelope Spheeris

Clueless, Amy Heckerling

Point Break,
See full article at SoundOnSight »

Great Films Directed by Women Pt. 2

(In Alphabetical order)

Meek’s Cutoff

Directed by Kelly Reichardt

Kelly Reichardt had a stellar if hushed 2000s, and then she commenced the current decade with a film that is already beginning to feel like an unsung modern classic. Meek’s Cutoff is one of those exhilarating instances in which a marriage of disparate styles produces something tricky to imagine, but perfect to behold: a period piece set in mid-1800’s Oregon, shot in academy ratio and classically beautiful for it, but with Reichardt’s signature severe naturalism. The result is so stark and understated that it begins to feel graceful, weirdly epic. A small caravan of settlers (featuring Michelle Williams and a once again devout Paul Dano) hires a guide, big-talking Stephen Meek, to help them navigate the Oregon Trail. As the terrain grows less forgiving and water evermore scarce, the settlers begin to wonder if the route Meek
See full article at SoundOnSight »

The Sight & Sound Top 250 Films

After much media hoopla about "Vertigo" toppling "Citizen Kane" in its poll, Sight and Sound magazine have now released the full version of its once a decade 'Top 250 greatest films of all time' poll results via its website. The site also includes full on links showcasing Top Tens of the hundreds of film industry professionals who participated in the project.

For those who don't want to bother with the individual lists and to save you a bunch of clicking, below is a copy of the full 250 films that made the lists and how many votes they got to be considered for their positions:

1 - Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958) [191 votes]

2 - Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941) [157 votes]

3 - Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953) [107 votes]

4 - La Règle du jeu (Renoir, 1939) [100 votes]

5 - Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927) [93 votes]

6 - 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968) [90 votes]

7 - The Searchers (Ford, 1956) [78 votes]

8 - Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929) [68 votes]

9 - The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer,
See full article at Dark Horizons »

Underground Film Links: July 8, 2012

This Week’s absolute Must Read proves exactly why you should never absolutely trust what you read on IMDb. You may think it’s a 100% accurate website, but you’d be wrong. How wrong? The Temple of Schlock runs down the data on a bevy of ’70s exploitation films that are mis-dated, mis-credited and mis-titled. Posts like this prove how invaluable a research website the Temple is. Invaluable, I tell you! Plus, they have the ad mat for ’72′s Outside In, another incorrectly credited film.The Village Voice wrote up a very lengthy profile of NYC icon Lloyd Kaufman. About freakin’ time they did!Plus, 366 Weird Movies has the full rundown of Troma movies on YouTube. And, is Meshes of the Afternoon a “weird” movie?Salise Hughes releases an original digital drawing based on her upcoming Charades project that is really, really cool looking.Aryan Kaganof posted up a scan
See full article at Underground Film Journal »

Daily Briefing. Maya Deren, Dario Argento and Cinemadness!

  • MUBI
Jason Sperb's new book, Disney's Most Notorious Film: Race, Convergence, and the Hidden Histories of Song of the South, will be out soon from the University of Texas Press.

In other news. "Barbara, a slow-burning drama set in communist East Germany from director Christian Petzold, is the front runner for this year's Lolas, Germany's equivalent of the Oscar, with eight nominations, including best film." Scott Roxborough has more in the Hollywood Reporter; the Süddeutsche Zeitung has the full list. The awards will be presented in Berlin on April 27.

Los Angeles. "Maya Deren's best-known achievement, her remarkable 1943 dream-poem Meshes of the Afternoon, was just the beginning of a too-brief career," writes Tom von Logue Newth in the Weekly. "Her output would extend from experiments in psychodrama, like Meshes and Witch's Cradle, a fascinating, barely edited collaboration with Marcel Duchamp made during Deren's short period in Hollywood; to highly personal dance
See full article at MUBI »

Underground Film Revolutionaries: Maya Deren

Working on and scanning through Bad Lit’s Underground Film Timeline periodically, I am continually struck and impressed by the strong efforts of a certain, key few individuals who have both set down an official historical course and have charted a definitive future for avant-garde and experimental film. Without these individuals’ efforts, perhaps there would not be a history for me to attempt to chronicle on this website.

Typically, these individuals have worn multiple hats in their artistic careers, serving as filmmakers, curators, lecturers, journalists and such. While much of their work was about promoting underground film as a valid and to-be-respected art form, there is also a strong component — if not a guiding component — of self-preservation.

That is not to imply a disparagement on their accomplishments as being merely self-serving, but the survival of the one does lead to a survival of the many. That is, if one can
See full article at Underground Film Journal »
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