Film About a Father Who ⋅ A film by Lynne Sachs
From Silvia Nugara
July 9, 2021
Presented in Italian preview at the 57th International Exhibition of New Cinema in Pesaro, Film About a Father Who by Lynne Sachs is the fragmentary portrait of an elusive, eccentric, excessive father, a real tangle, like the one that knots his long gray hair and that his daughter tries to comb him in the opening of the film. A Memphis-born Jew who became an entrepreneur, Ira Sachs Sr. has been involved in the hospitality industry by managing hotels and resorts in various corners of the planet. In the repertoire accumulated in over 30 years of life and filming, whose formats go from 8 and 16mm to video and digital, the director shows it both through the look of family films she herself shot as a young girl and in repertoires television and promotional. In the latter emerges the paradoxical and kaleidoscopic figure of a tycoon hyppie in multicolored outfits, intensely dedicated to work but also to joy, which as soon as the first, enormous,
Serial seducer with six marriages behind him and nine children not all equally recognized, the father is today a disarmed patriarch who has left behind a trail of pain, trauma, abandonment and mysteries, starting with his name and surname which perhaps in origin was not what the children have always known. But to the omissions and riddles disseminated throughout his life is added a kind of senile amnesia (perhaps yet another stratagem for not assuming his responsibilities?) Which prompts him to respond with a “I don’t remember” to all the questions he asks. daughter today.
So how to translate his silence? How to mend the scattered pieces of an existential puzzle? How to completely outline a father figure full of gaps and at the same time reconstruct a little even themselves? What Lynne, her sister writer Dana and her brother director Ira Jr., the fruit of their first marriage, choose to do is take on the responsibility of keeping the scattered pieces of the family together. The language, primarily cinematographic, takes on the role of witness and mediator of this process of encounter and collective re-elaboration. In one scene we see daughters and sons of different ages, social status and geographical origin gathered in the same room to talk about “him”, some sharing crazy anecdotes, some pulling out all the anger accumulated even towards half-sisters and half-brothers.
In addition to the archive materials and the sequences shot today in which the director recalls “her” father, the interviews with his eccentric mother, the various “girlfriends” he had over time and all the children between yesterday and today make up the mosaic of the many possible perspectives on a bulky father figure despite and perhaps precisely because of his absence. An absence suffered individually and which by now can no longer be filled but can be shared and perhaps weigh a little less. In a private repertory scene, the young director herself explains what years later this film would become: “in the past I made a film in which I aimed the camera lens all around me, another in which I looked at myself instead inside and now I want to make one in which I look both inside and outside ”. This intimate work,
The title of the film pays homage to Film about a woman who by Yvonne Rainer (1972-74) and that elision of the verb is both a reference to absence and an open space. As the director said: “The film is part of a series of portraits that I am making to understand the extent to which we can get to know another person. I hate when it comes to documentaries ‘that are based on the character’, I’m not interested in making a complete portrait of someone, I don’t know if it’s possible. This is also what the film is about and in this sense the missing verb opens up many possibilities: it is a film about a father who … jokes, misbehaves, has had many children. What interested me, however, was not filling a void, finding answers or finding secrets but following traces and asking questions.”
© CultFrame 07/2021
It was not easy for the director to have a father like hers: always taken by the job of an entrepreneur, by the never satisfied desire for conquests, professional and sentimental adventures, full of women and children. A man who has done everything to be hated but to whom his daughter remains attached despite everything and to whom he pays homage with this film shot for more than thirty-five years and in various formats.
International title: Film about a Father Who / Director: Lynne Sachs / Screenplay: Lynne Sachs. / Editing: Rebecca Shapass / Photography: Lynne Sachs, Ira Sachs Sr., Ira Sachs Jr. / Music: Stephen Vitiello / Performers: Ira Sachs Sr., Lynne Sachs, Dana Sachs, Ira Sachs Jr., Diane Sachs, Rose Sachs / Production: / Country: USA, 2020 / Running time: 74 minutes.