Movie Magazine International

Maya Deren Film Weekend in Gradisca, Italy. May 19-20, 2000

Special Report By Moira Sullivan

Dissolvenze in Italian, means ‘Fadings,’ the title given to a series of programs on art and cinema arranged by the cultural association Gli Iconauti, --or ’People of the Moving Image’in Gradisca, Italy. The work of the American avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren of the 1940’s and 1950’s,one part of this series, was featured May 19-20,2000 where I was invited to introduce Deren's films.

Gli Iconauti is a professional creative association consisting of scientific director Marco Rossitti, press relations Anna Antonini and Andrea Maggi, the technical team of Giovanni Ferrin and Sandro Sanirato and hospitality staff Sonia Soldera, Susanna Pugliese and Mila Ciammaichella. They are an innovative team who promote an appreciation of important contributions to the world of of art cinema.

Maya Deren’s films were shown at a restored theater called Sala Bergamas in the town of Gradisca north of Venice and introduced by the mayor. Prints of Deren’s films for the Italian event came from the British Film Institute as well as Italian Cinemateques.

In this theater in an Italian valley, people of all ages watched the work of a filmmaker who single-handedly forwarded the American independent film movement. Several individuals wrote in one sentence why Deren’s films are important today: According to Andrea Maggi: ‘Maya Deren dances in silence, and everybody hears her’.

In a statement translated by Iconauti into Italian, Deren wrote in 1953 that ‘artists constitute, ‘ethnic group’. ‘We too, she claimed, ‘are exhibited as touristic curiosities on Monday, extolled as culture on Tuesday, denounced as immoral on Wednesday, reinstated for scientific study Thursday, feasted for some extremely stylish reason Friday, forgotten Saturday, revisited as picturesque Sunday’.

Deren’s contributions to film include not only six shorts , three silent and three with music, as well as 20,000 feet shot in Haiti during the 1950’s on Voudoun ceremonies. Her films , not easy subjects, illuminate formal principles about dance and ritual which eventually were in opposition to the improvisational work of the 1960’s exemplified by the work of, for example John Cassavettes. Deren wrote about film and ethnography and was virtually forgotten after her death in 1961. Resurrections of her work began in 1976 and as witnessed by Dissolvenze and the recent Black Roots Festival in Paris this April reported by Movie Magazine International, she is definitely back.

There are several Deren enthusiasts in Italy and the feeling I got from the festival was that her particular filmmaking style is a vital one that is being emulated by young filmmakers. On every point of her multi-faceted work was a thread that could be pulled, a connection made with the lives of Italians of all in Gradisca who came for inspiration and to see the manifestation of art and cinema beyond the standard fair of Hollywood movies that grace their theaters every day.

For further information about Iconauti contact The Maya Deren Forum. (Yahoo)

This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Italy

© 2000 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 5/2000

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