Films Showing

Back to films

Walton Ford and Waris Ahluwalia on Early Cinema

No upcoming showtimes scheduled.
Director: Mervyn LeRoy, Mervyn LeRoy, Mervyn LeRoy, Maya Deren, Mervyn LeRoy, Maya Deren, Mervyn LeRoy
1944 / 93min / 35mm

Join Walton Ford and Waris Ahluwalia for a conversation and screening on the occasion of Walton Ford Selects, a film program curated by the artist, as part of the ongoing series co-presented by Gagosian and Metrograph. The pair will discuss how the selected films share an unorthodox style or method, and dive deep into characters that are sometimes harrowing and always completely surprising. After the talk, a triptych of films, Mervyn LeRoy’s Heat Lightning (1934) and Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) and At Land (1944), will be screened.

Two experimental Deren shorts brimming with images of female alienation and sexual menace—the ethereal, John Cage-scored At Land and her landmark deathdream debut Meshes of the Afternoon—make the ideal opening act to LeRoy’s buried Pre-Code treasure, a snappily written, disconcertingly modern crime melodrama starring Aline MacMahon and Ann Dvorak as two sisters operating a gas station/restaurant in the desert wastes of the southwest, a film that touches on concerns about gender, class, and race that Hollywood would do its best to avoid for the next 30 years.

“The focus this evening is on two film pioneers: Maya Deren, who pioneered experimental film in the United States; and Aline MacMahon, one of the first Method actors in Hollywood.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and At Land. I don’t see these films as visionary. Instead, I see them as the most accurate and vivid portrayals of how dreams unfold in our minds during deep sleep. Before Deren, dream sequences often involved dry ice, soft focus, echoing voices, and other clichés, which have nothing to do with the varying, tangible ways in which we experience hypnogogic imagery. Her films make sense in the way our dreams seem to unfold while we’re living them.

The brilliant and beautiful MacMahon studied with Stanislavsky in 1922. Although an acclaimed stage actress in New York City, she typically played an awkward or wise-cracking sidekick in Hollywood. In Heat Lightning, she is finally given a film role worthy of her talents. She brings all her brilliant firepower to the complex and conflicted character of Olga.”—Walton Ford

Heat Lightning 35mm Preserved by the Library of Congress

At Land and Meshes of the Afternoon 16mm courtesy of the Film-Makers' Cooperative/The New American Cinema Group

Pre-screening discussion between artist Walton Ford and designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia on Friday, November 17th

Save $7 on tickets

Become a Metrograph Member for as little as $5/month to enjoy Member pricing and exclusive access to pre-sales

Sign Up Today

Already a member?

Log in now