I don't often care for avant garde cinema in feature length films, but shorts are a different matter. Short films can work like poems, allowing filmmakers to focus narrowly on their ideas, hit a few pithy beats, and get out before their indulgences grow tiresome. Artist couple Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid contributed the landmark short Meshes of the Afternoon, a hypnotic, spiralling nightmare of sexual panic. Deren is a captivating figure, using her dance training to gracefully glide, prowl and swoon through a house that appears to have trapped her in a never-ending pursuit of release. Once you've seen Meshes of the Afternoon, its influence on later cinema becomes hard to miss. David Lynch's Mulholland Drive may feature the most obvious homage to Meshes' laconic paranoia, but echoes of its potent imagery and mesmerizing atmosphere can also be found in music videos and the animation of Terry Gilliam.