n the future, we may all be personal filmmakers, making the kinds of films that fit few genres but truly express our innermost creative impulse. Lynne Sachs is just that filmmaker, and she’s this month’s guest at Speakeasy Cinema.
The ground rules were set early on in the IFP Film Week panel “Neorealist Features & Hybrid Documentaries.” There was to be no talk about “business.” We were here to talk about art — the art of cinema and how to transcend categorization.
When the experimental filmmaker Lynne Sachs taught avant-garde filmmaking at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1992, few if any in our class had ever heard of the essayist Chris Marker, with whom she later collaborated on Three Cheers for the Whale, or Trinh T. Minh-ha, whose approach to filmmaking strongly influenced her own.
On July 15, The DocYard series, running Monday nights at the Brattle Theatre, will host writer-director Lynne Sachs and her gorgeous, intimate look inside one very crowded New York Chinatown apartment, Your Day Is My Night.
A couple of years ago, when I was just beginning the work on my most recent film Your Day is My Night, I happened to notice an astonishing photo essay by Annie Ling in the New York Times. Annie had spent a year taking a series of exquisite photographs of a group of residents living at 81 Bowery Street in Chinatown. It became clear to me that the work she was doing corresponded on multiple levels with my own film project on the shift-bed houses of Chinatown. I decided to contact Annie so we could talk about our shared interests.
In May of 1968, nine individuals shook the conscience of the nation as they burned U.S. Selective Service records with home-made napalm on the grounds of the Catonsville, Maryland Knights of Columbus hall. The fire they started erupted into an infamous trial where the nine were defended by William Kuntsler. The news spread throughout the country, influencing other similar dynamic actions in every major U.S. city. Two of the original members of the Nine will be on hand to talk about their experiences – about how they met and their stand against U.S. militarization in Latin America. We will also be joined by two scholars who will help us connect this story with the larger context of Vietnam War era protests.
In 1986, filmmaker Lynne Sachs saw Chris Marker’s “Sans Soleil”. Soon after, she wrote Marker a fan letter along with a personal interpretation of the film to which he surprisingly responded. They soon met, marking the beginning of a twenty-five-year friendship that culminated in 2007 when Sachs assisted Marker on one of his projects. In her presentation, Sachs will explore their shared interest in the film portrait. The talk will examine “pieces” by both Marker and Sachs and the ways in which each artist combines cinematic fragments to document the complexities of real people’s lives.