About Moira Sullivan

I am a film critic, lecturer and activist of screening forums from San Francisco and based in Stockholm.

Maya Deren's films were rediscovered in the flux of women's film festivals during the 1970's and 1980's.
After a trip to Simrishamn in Southern Sweden in 1987, I was drawn to the visual form of the fornlaemningar (stone relics) in the countryside and was referred to Deren because of her work with myth and ritual. Shortly after, I began the doctoral program at Stockholm University where I received my Ph.d in Cinema Studies in 1997. From 1991 to 1998 I did research at Boston University Mugar Library Special Collections where Maya Deren's papers are housed. I studied her written and visual material and complied inventories of this material for future researchers. I also studied outtakes of her films and Haitian footage at Anthology Film Archives, New York.

My dissertation entitled "An Anagram of the Ideas of Filmmaker Maya Deren"
( ISBN: 91-7153-582-9, Stockholm, Sweden, 1997) is available at several libraries in the USA and Sweden and is available upon request.

[Abstract of "An Anagram of the Ideas of Filmmaker Maya Deren" by Moira Sullivan, ISBN: 91-7153-582-9 Stockholm, 1997
Maya Deren's corpus of work, which has been given various designations within the American avant-garde filmmaking practice of the 1940's and 1950's, will be analysed according to the biographical legend--an approach that focuses on authorship within the historical conditions of conception and reception. Influences on her theories in art and ethnography will be noted through several historical discourses: the French Symbolist Poets, Henri Bergson, Kurt Koffka, T.S Eliot, Katherine Dunham, Alexander Hammid, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Campbell and Gregory Bateson; the synthesis of these ideas within her films will be made apparent. Three major areas, the poetic, the political and the primitive will be used as components of an anagrammatic complex to demonstrate the theory and practice of her work as an artist in flux between dominant representational practices in film and ethnography. Her major theoretical essay, "An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film" will introduce the basic structure of her ideas. An analysis of six completed films and work in progress will be approached through a 'genetic tracing' of shooting scripts, releases and historical contexualizations. Work with choreocinema and ritual will be examined as an epistemological break in film formwithin the avant garde. "The Poetic" contextualizes key influences behind her use of the poetic idiom in film; "The Political" examines Deren's production, distribution, exhibition and articulation of film in periodicals and lecture-demonstrations; "The Primitive" focuses on Deren's literal and visual contributions to an understanding of Haitian Voudoun including her participant-observation in a Port-au-Prince hounfor (temple). ]