Reel Women in Film: The Smiling Madame Beudet | Meshes of the Afternoon

Texas Spirit Theater | NR | 68 min. | Drama, Experimental, Surrealism

April 12, 2019 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Join the Bullock Museum for a screening with live score accompaniment and conversation about Germaine Dulac and Maya Deren's silent films The Smiling Madame Beudet and Meshes of the Afternoon.

The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Mme. Beudet is the story of an intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage and how she manages to cope. Meshes of the Afternoon follows the circular story of a woman whose daydreams restore mystery and danger to the ordinary objects of her everyday life.

Event Details

The combined screening of Germaine Dulac and Maya Deren's silent films, The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Mme. Beudet) and Meshes of the Afternoon celebrates the female avant-garde with films separated by two decades but sharing many commonalities. Both films begin to unpack a woman's inner struggle and unhappiness in their circumstance and both filmmakers represent feminine creative forces.

This screening is part of Reel Women in Film, a film series that highlights the filmic works of women in front of or behind the camera. In its first season, all films focus on influencers and visionaries within the field of filmmaking. This evening's program includes a film screening with a Bullock commissioned live score accompaniment performed by composers Laura Brackney and Henna Chou. Following the screening and musical performance is a Q&A with Assistant Professor of Art History at Texas State University, Dr. Jennifer Stob and musicians, Laura Brackney and Henna Chou. Come early at 6pm for a welcome reception.

Please note: Entrance for this screening will be at the IMAX Lobby doors.

Your ticket purchase supports the Bullock Museum's exhibitions and educational programming.

Film Credits

The Smiling Madame Beudet

Rating: NR 
Suggested age: 13+
Director: Germaine Dulac
Writers:  Denys Amiel (play), Germaine Dulac (screenplay) and André Obey (play/screenplay)
Runtime: 54 min.
Genre: Drama
Release year: 1923

Meshes of the Afternoon

Rating: NR 
Suggested age: 13+
Director: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid
Writers:  Maya Deren
Runtime: 14 min.
Genre: Experimental, Surrealism
Release year: 1943

About the Filmmakers and Films

Germain Dulac (1882-1942) studied various forms of art with an emphasis on music and the opera. She was one of the leading radical feminists of her day and the editor of La Française, the organ of the French suffragette movement. She also doubled as theater and cinema critic of the publication and became increasingly enamored with film as an art form. In 1915, she and her husband formed a small production company called Delia Film and began directing highly inventive, small-budget pictures. She was the second woman director in French films, after Alice Guy. 

The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet) is a French film that is generally regarded by scholars and theorists as Dulac's masterwork. It has been included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Germaine Dulac uses devices such as slow motion, distortions and superimposed images within the film. La Souriante Madame Beudet was the film that led Dulac to becoming a leading figure in the impressionist movement in French films. She was an important part of the 'second avant-garde' of the French cinema beginning in the late 1920s. Her goal was "pure" cinema, free from any influence from literature, the stage, or even other visual arts. Dulac was also instrumental in the development of cinema clubs throughout France in the mid-20s. From 1930 until her passing she was in charge of newsreel production at Pathé, then at Gaumont.

Maya Deren (1917-1961) studied journalism and political science at Syracuse University and received her MA in English literature from Smith.  In 1943, she made her first film with Alexander Hammid and changed her name from Eleanora Derenkowsky to Maya Deren. She made six short films and several incomplete films. She is the author of two books and wrote numerous articles on film and on Haiti. In 1947, Deren became the first filmmaker to receive a Guggenheim grant for creative work in motion pictures. She wrote film theory, distributed her own films and traveled all over teaching film theory and promote her films. Deren established the Creative Film Foundation in the late 1950s to reward the achievements of independent filmmakers.

Deren's film Meshes of the Afternoon is seen as one of the most influential experimental films of the twentieth century. In 1990, Meshes of the Afternoon was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". In 2015, the BBC named the film the 40th greatest American movie ever made.

About the Composers and Music

Laura Brackney is currently pursuing her Master of Music in Composition, studying with Michael Ippolito at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. She is a gamelan enthusiast, published composer, Co-Creative Director of COTFG, an arts nonprofit, and organizes seasonal concerts for bicyclists.

Henna Chou (周世涵) has traveled the world as a Geographical Information Systems Analyst and musician for the past two decades. She is a member of the Austin, TX experimental music community dedicated to the proliferation of creative sound and counter culture expression. As a cellist, guitarist, keyboardist or sound designer, she has performed in Austin theater productions, touring ensembles, created string arrangements for bands and improvisations for film.


This collaboration is the ongoing development of Laura & Henna working together to combine their communication of ideas for joint performance of musical with visual aspects. Their first collaboration being Poor Herman via Paper Chairs Theater. They are both creative directors in COTFG, an on-going avant-garde music series taking place mostly in east Austin.

"I think our collaborating for this project sits well with the re-visiting of these historical films, as 2 people interested in experimental music from different generations." - Henna Chou

"It has been a rare opportunity for two female and local composers to be given the opportunity to respond to films directed by two early and important female directors." - Laura Brackney

Music written for Meshes of the Afternoon is composed by Henna Chou and music written for The Smiling Madame Beudet is composed by Laura Brackney.

About the Guest Speaker

Jennifer Stob is Assistant Professor of Art History at Texas State University. Her scholarship combines the study of aesthetic theory, experimental film and video, and transnational cinema. Her work has appeared in anthologies as well as journals such as Moving Image Review and Art Journal (MIRAJ), Philosophy of Photography and Studies in French Cinema. She is working on a book entitled With and Against: The Situationist International and the Social Space of Cinema.

About the Texas Spirit Theater and Tickets

The Texas Spirit Theater located on the Bullock Museum's second floor is one of the most beautiful film experiences in Austin and features multi-sensory special effects such as lightning, rain, and other surprises.

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