Maya Deren is not greedy. She does not seek to possess the major portion of your days. She is content: "If on those rare occasions, whose truth can be stated only by poetry, you will perhaps recall an image, or even just the aura of one of my films."
Filmmaker Martina Kudlacek, with "In the Mirror of Maya Deren", has created the perfect companion documentary to the Mystic Fire Video DVD release of Maya's work: "Experimental Films". "In the Mirror of Maya Deren" weaves together excerpts from Ms. Deren's surreal films with archival audio recordings of Deren's voice and filmed interviews of her contemporaries: Alexander 'Sasha' Hammid, Katherine Dunham, Chao-Li Chi, Jonas Mekas and Stan Brakhage. It also features a haunting original score from Tzadik Records founder John Zorn.
This 103-minute work begins at Manhattan's Anthology Film Archives, where some lost containers of Maya's 16mm films have been uncovered. It then continues with the reminiscences of 'Sasha' Hammid, a pioneering Czech experimental filmmaker, who married Ms. Deren in the spring of 1943. Excerpts from and reflections on, "Meshes of the Afternoon", "At Land" and "Ritual in Transfigured Time" all lead into a discussion of Maya's 4 trips to Haiti. She spent 21 months there, between 1947 and 1955, documenting the religious festivals of the Haitian people.
Though much of the Haitian trip was recorded on film, the major fruit from this intense period of study was Maya's book: "Divine Horsemen, The Living Gods in Haiti", which was edited by Joseph Campbell and published in the year 1952. Also in 1952, Maya meets her second husband to be, Teiji Ito, son of the martial arts artist featured in Maya's 1948 film: "Meditation On Violence". They marry at sea in 1960, despite an 18-year age difference between them.
In 1961, Maya Deren dies as the result of a massive brain hemorrhage, at the age of 44. She will long be remembered for working completely outside of the commercial film industry, where she made her own inner experience to be the center of her cinema. "In the Mirror of Maya Deren" tells her uniquely dramatic story in a manner that both excites and perturbs. This compelling documentary should now be considered as essential viewing for all fans of avant-garde film.