Until now, Maya Deren's essays on the art and craft of filmmaking have not been available in a comprehensive volume equally handy for students, film enthusiasts, and scholars. Essential Deren: Collected Writings on Film contains all of Deren's essays on her own films as well as more general essays on film theory, the relation of film to dance, various technical aspects of film production, the distinction between amateur and professional filmmaking, and the famous 1946 chapbook titled "An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film," which has been reset here for the first time. There are hard-to-find articles written for magazines and art journals, as well as lectures, Q&A sessions, program notes, and manifestoes. This book will be particularly welcomed by the large audience that saw Martina Kudlacek's documentary, "In the Mirror of Maya Deren," during its theatrical release in the U.S. and Europe in 2002.
Maya Deren's life is the subject of a multi-volume biography in progress (see: The Legend of Maya Deren). Born in Kiev in 1917, Maya Deren emigrated to the United States with her parents a few years later, grew up mainly in Syracuse, New York, and attended Syracuse University. A social activist from her teens, she became interested first in dance and subsequently in filmmaking. Throughout the 1950s, until her premature death in 1961 at the age of 44, Maya Deren was a leading exponent of experimental cinema and considered one of its most influential artists. She first traveled to Haiti to film dances in 1947, and returned in following years for lengthy stays. The work in Haiti led to the classic ethnographic study, Divine Horsemen, written with the encouragement of Joseph Campbell, as well as audio recordings and a documentary film which was later edited by Teiji and Cherel Ito. A two-hour documentary on Maya Deren and her work was produced for BBC television in 1987. Martina Kudlacek's 2002 documentary, "In the Mirror of Maya Deren," received a theatrical release and widespread critical acclaim. Deren's own films have been released on DVD as "Experimental Films" and "Divine Horsemen" from Mystic Fire Video.