Female Director Spotlight: The Surrealist Female Gaze of Maya Deren

Lost in thought, a woman pulls a key out of her mouth. As she holds it in her hand, it transforms into a knife. She enters another room using the key, where two women, who look exactly like her, scrutinize the situation and carefully take a seat. She comes up to the table and places the knife in the middle. The knife turns back into a key. The women raise their heads in surprise.

As Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon progresses, we realize that the key plays a big role in the main character’s state of mind. It’s an image that has spread itself throughout visual arts in multitudes. Whether it be the weird key to the Dead Man’s Chest from Pirates of the Caribbean or the thin triangle shaft to the blue box in Mulholland Drive, it often illustrates the threshold between unknowingness and realization, a state of mystery — entrancing, very evocative, yet also hazy. In that, it mirrors some of Maya Deren’s most present sensibilities as a storyteller.

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One Short A Day: Week One

For the first week of the One Short A Day challenge, upon the suggestion of many friends, I decided to watch shorts of Ukrainian-American experimental filmmaker Maya Deren. I find it quite hard to talk about them, but what I know is that after every film I watched, I wanted to watch it again. And at the end of the week, I wanted to watch them one after another at one go. There is so much written about Deren, her films, her influences, and I wanted to read as much as I could but decided against it since it’s against the purpose of this challenge, which is to write about these films right after I’ve seen them, on how I felt watching them and their immediate effect on me. It was hard, but that’s why it’s a challenge. Hope you enjoy!

Continue reading “One Short A Day: Week One”