Lynne Sachs: A Poet’s Perspective
Gene Siskel Film Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
December 23, 2022
Screenings on February 20 & 23, 2023
LYNNE SACHS: A POET’S PERSPECTIVE
Committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, experimental filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in each new project. Embracing archives, letters, portraits, confessions, poetry, and music, her films take us on a critical journey through reality and memory. Regardless of the passage of time, these films continue to be extremely contemporary, coherent, and radical in their artistic conception.
Lynne has produced over 40 films as well as numerous live performances, installations, and web projects. Over the course of her career, Lynne has worked closely with fellow filmmakers Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Chris Marker, Gunvor Nelson, Carolee Schneemann, and Trinh T. Minh-ha. Sachs’ films have screened at MoMA, Tate Modern, Image Forum Tokyo, Wexner Center for the Arts, the New York Film Festival, Oberhausen Int’l Short FF, Punto de Vista, Sundance, Vancouver IFF, Viennale, and Doclisboa, among others. In 2021, Sachs received awards from both Edison Film Festival and Prismatic Ground Film Festival at the Maysles Documentary Center for her achievements in the experimental and documentary fields.
The Film Center, in collaboration with Conversations at the Edge and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Film, Video, New Media, and Animation program, is honored to welcome Sachs to the Film Center in person for two evenings of her work, followed by in-depth conversations. Photo credit: Inés Espinosa López.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 6:00PM
2020, dir. Lynne Sachs
USA, 74 min. In English / Format: Digital
Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8mm and 16mm film, videotape, and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, Sachs’ cinematic exploration of her father offers simultaneous, sometimes contradictory, views of one seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame, yet privately ensconced in secrets. With this meditation on fatherhood and masculinity, Sachs allows herself and her audience to see beneath the surface of the skin, beyond the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, she discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal. (Cinema Guild) Post-screening conversation with Lynne Sachs.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 6:00PM
2018-2022, dir. Lynne Sachs
USA, 64 min., In English / Format: Digital
This program of four short and medium-length pieces highlights Sachs’ filmography from a poetic, personal perspective, as she uses her camera to capture the essence of people, places, and moments in time. The scope of this work includes DRIFT AND BOUGH (2014, USA, 6 min., No dialogue / Format: 8mm on digital), an assemblage of 8mm footage from a winter morning in Central Park. Set to sound artist Stephen Vitiello’s delicate and assured score, the contrasting darkness – of skyscrapers, fences, trees, and people – against bright snow, gives way to a meditative living picture. In MAYA AT 24 (2021, USA, 4 min., No dialogue / Format: 16mm on digital), Sachs presents a spinning, swirling cinematic record of her daughter Maya, chronicled at ages 6, 16, and 24. As Maya runs, she glances – furtively, lovingly, distractedly – through the lens and at her mother, conveying a wordless bond between parent and child, and capturing the breathtakingly quick nature of time. Presented for the first time publicly, in VISIT TO BERNADETTE MAYER’S CHILDHOOD HOME (2020, USA, 3 min., In English / Format: 16mm on digital), Sachs visits poet Bernadette Mayer’s childhood home in Queens to celebrate Mayer’s work, through a reverent, flowing collage. Queens, New York is also the backdrop for the poetry of Paolo Javier in SWERVE (2022, USA, 7 min., in various languages with English subtitles / Format: Digital), a “COVID film” that documents people emerging – cautiously, distanced, masked – from the global pandemic, finding their way in the liminal space between “before” and “after,” and connected by language and verse. In collaboration with playwright Lizzie Olesker, THE WASHING SOCIETY (2018, USA, 44 min., In English / Format: Digital) explores the once ubiquitous but now endangered public laundromat. Inspired by “To ’Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War” by Tera W. Hunter, THE WASHING SOCIETY is an observational study of lather and labor, a document of the lives of working class women who – largely overlooked and underappreciated – load, dry, fold, and repeat. Post-screening conversation with Lynne Sachs.