With MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON, the husband-and-wife team of Maya Deren and Alexander Hackenschmied created one of the keystone achievements of American avant-garde cinema in their Hollywood home. During its first decade of release, this captivating psychodrama was presented silent (with no soundtrack) and included three additional shots, as seen here.
Maya Deren (1917-1961), choreographer, dancer, theorist, poet, lecturer, author and photographer, performed these activities and many more during her short but productive life. Best known for six short avant-garde films made between 1943 and 1958, she acted as spokesperson for advanced film production and exhibition. 1946 proved a watershed year for her with sold-out film screenings at the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village and a Guggenheim Fellowship award for creative filmmaking, the first given to a filmmaker.
Born in Poland, Alexander "Sasha" Hackenschmied (Hammid) (1907-2004) was at the center of political and social documentaries before and after World War II. In 1938, he fled to Hollywood, married Maya Deren; in collaboration, they made MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (1943) and THE PRIVATE LIFE OF A CAT (1944). His own films included HYMN OF THE NATIONS (1944), THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS (1945) and NIGHT JOURNEY (1960). From 1962 to 1988, Francis Thompson and Hammid forged novel multi-screen and large format films, such as TO BE ALIVE! (1962-64) for the Johnson Wax Company and TO FLY (1976) for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.