Maya Deren was born Eleonora Derenkowsky in Kiev in 1917. Shortly after her birth, she emigrated to the United States with her parents, settling in Syracuse, New York. Deren is perhaps the most celebrated American avant-garde film maker of her generation. She worked tirelessly to establish facilities and funding for the independent film movement. In 1946, she was the first American film maker to receive a Guggenheim fellowship as well as the first to establish a non-profit film foundation, the Creative Film Foundation. Though she only made seven films, including Meshes in the Afternoon, Deren's influences are undeniable. She died unexpectedly in 1961.