Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid
Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid's iconic film established the independent film movement in the USA and inspired generations of filmmakers ever since. Deren appears as the central character caught in a web of dreams events spilling over everyday reality. A mesmerising parable of fractured identity.
(1917–61) Ukraine / USA
Born Eleonora Derenkowsky in Kiev, Maya Deren was a pioneering film-maker and have a massive influence on development of film art. Deren emigrated with her family to America in 1922 and she married the Czech emigre film-maker Alexander Hammid in 1942 and together made Meshes of the Afternoon a pivotal work in America cinema. Subsequent films At Land (1944), A Study In Choreography For The Camera (1945) and Ritual In Transfigured Time (1946) drew on her involvement in modern dance and further explored her distinct manipulation of filmic space and time. In 1947 Deren was awarded the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship for work in 'creative motion pictures' and went to Haiti to film 'Voudoun' rituals which resulted in definitive study of the subject The Divine Horsemen. Teijo Ito her second husband added music to Meshes of the Afternoon in 1959. Deren completed two more films: Meditation On Violence (1948) and The Very Eye Of Night (1955) before she died of a brain haemorrhage in 1961.
(1907) Czech Republic / USA
Alexander Hammid (born Alexandr Hackenschmied in Linz) was regarded as the leading avant-garde photographer and filmmaker in Czechoslovakia between the two world wars before he emigrated to the U.S. in 1938. He became involved in American avant-garde cinema and together with Maya Deren, made the iconic film Meshes of the Afternoon. He assumed the name of Hammid on becoming a United States citizen and was married to Deren from 1942 to 1947. He is also known for his work in documentary film, both as a director, cameraman and editor and for his pioneering work with Francis Thompson with whom he made the first IMAX format film To Fly! in 1976.
Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943 ¬© courtesy of LUX, London