Tag Archives: film about a father who

Seventh Row: “Film About A Father Who” on Best Docs & Films of 2021

Seventh Row
The best documentaries of 2021
January 10, 2022
https://seventh-row.com/2022/01/10/best-documentaries-2021/
https://seventh-row.com/2022/01/12/30-best-films-of-2021/

From Flee to Procession, Seventh Row’s editors pick the best documentaries released in 2021 and the best undistributed docs.

Read all of our best of 2021 coverage.

At Seventh Row, we pride ourselves on seeking out the best hidden gems that nobody’s talking about to ensure that our readers never miss a great film again.

We spent a large part of 2021 writing an ebook called Subjective realities: The art of creative nonfiction. Seventh Row as a publication has always been interested in nonfiction cinema, but it wasn’t until Subjective realities that we realised just how much vital work is being done right now in the documentary landscape.

You’ll see on this list films like Still ProcessingProcession, and North by Current, that question how filmmaking can be a tool to help people process grief and trauma. You’ll find films like No Ordinary Man and John Ware Reclaimed, which use documentary as a way to reclaim historical narratives about marginalised people. There’s films on this list that interrogate family bonds, colonialism, and immigration, all in innovative and deeply empathetic ways. They prove that there’s no greater tool than nonfiction to question how stories are told, and to tell new ones.

Get a copy of Subjective realities here.

Film about a Father Who (Lynne Sachs)

Film About a Father Who is one of the best documentaries of 2021.

From the introduction to our profile of Lynne Sachs: “In the 1980s, documentary filmmaker Lynne Sachs started filming her father, Ira Sachs, a gregarious, womanising businessman. Now, three decades later, she’s finally finished making Film About a Father Who, a sprawling chronicle of her father’s life, and the children, wives, and girlfriends he left in his wake. That includes Lynne, her sister Dana, and her brother Ira Jr. (also a filmmaker). It also includes the six other children that their father had with various different women.

Film About a Father Who feels like a culmination of a career of family-focused work; it’s ambitious, attempting to take in the whole scope of Ira Sachs Sr.’s life. In non-chronological fragments, through footage spanning from the present day back to 1965, Sachs seeks to understand the complicated, unknowable figure of her father. In the end, the film doesn’t aim to be a comprehensive character study of Ira Sachs Sr.; Sachs realises that she has only so much access to her father’s mind, especially now that his declining health means that he can’t speak that much. Instead, she works with what she does have: access to herself, and to an extent, her siblings, to examine the bruises that a father leaves on his children, and how they attempt to heal.” Read the full profile.

Film About a Father Who is streaming on Criterion Channel in Canada and the US. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates on where it’s streaming.

Talkhouse Film – Best of 2021 – “Film About A Father Who”

The 2021 Talkies: Talkhouse Film Contributors Share Their Top 10 Movies of the Year
Talkhouse Film
By Filmmakers | January 6, 2022
https://www.talkhouse.com/the-2021-talkies-talkhouse-film-contributors-share-their-top-10-movies-of-the-year/

A selection of poll ballots from filmmakers, including Megan Griffiths, Lloyd Kaufman and Sandi Tan, choosing their best of 2021.

Late last year, Talkhouse Film contributors and a select few friends of the site voted on their favorite theatrical releases of 2021; the aggregated results will be published on Talkhouse tomorrow. Below are ballots from a selection of the filmmakers who took part in the voting process.

Michael Gallagher
1. Pig
2. Licorice Pizza
3. Some Kind of Heaven
4. Shiva Baby
5. Old Henry
6. Film About A Father Who
7. The Killing of Two Lovers
8. King Richard
9. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
10. Zola

Gillian Wallace Horvat
1. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar
2. Old
3. Zola
4. Film About A Father Who (this was on my list last year but it got a theatrical release this year so happy to have it back on)
5. The Trouble With Being Born
6. Ema
7. The Last Duel
8. Chaos Walking (with the original Charlie Kaufman script that I can only imagine)
9. Things Heard & Seen
10. Paul Schrader says it’s disingenuous not to put your own film on your year end list if you like it, and I like it and I live in fear of contradicting Paul Schrader so: I Blame Society

Notes
2021 was the year of go big or go home. If in this year of straitened resources and universal misery you weren’t trying something new, wild, or insane… I honestly don’t think you should be doing this job. This is not the time to play it safe. While some of the films on my list weren’t perfect, I respected their scope and the director’s fortitude to hold on to their vision in spite of what I’m sure were copious notes. There’s a lot of films that I expect would go in the list that I haven’t watched like TitaneBenedetta and Zeros and Ones, and there’s a lot that hasn’t come out in L.A. and is not available to a non-critic non-guild member but I’m sure I would have included The Worst Person in the World and Bad Luck Banging if I had the chance to see them.


FULL LIST

Vashti Anderson
1. Judas and the Black Messiah dir. Shaka King
2. Titane dir. Julia Doucournau
3. The Green Knight dir. David Lowery
4. Lamb dir. Valdemar Johansson
5. Annette dir. Leos Carax
6. Licorice Pizza dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
7. Concrete Cowboy dir. Ricky Staub
8. Perfume de Gardenias dir. Gisela Rosario
9. King Richard dir. Reinaldo Marcus Green
10. Want to see: Memoria dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Notes
Titane – At first, I found the body horror hard to bear, especially because of the profound violence to the female protagonist’s body in particular. What kept me watching was the fact that it was directed by a woman, and I was interested in Doucournau’s vision and where she was going with it. In the end, the intensely visceral storytelling stayed with me, made me think about our impulses, our bodies, our pain. It seems to pull from one of my favorite documentaries, The Imposter, where humans bypass truth for a whiff of happiness.

The Green Knight dir. David Lowery – Instead of Hollywoodizing the original text, Lowery makes it even more curious, more intriguing, and more ambiguous about heroism. It does what most of my favorite films do, which is to take risks and walk the line of genre, in this case horror and epic. Dev Patel, another South Asian man in a prominent leading role (I mentioned Riz Ahmed last year), and Sarita Choudhury in the role she was made to play, are wins for non-conformative casting. Also loved the Jane’s Addiction album cover reference in the opening shot.

Lamb dir. Valdimar Jóhannsson – The opening sequence is absolutely killer; animals start the story, with subtext and point of view, their heightened sense of smell and hearing part of the experience. Humans barely say a thing, but I could feel their deepest desires. Perhaps representative of our collective anxiety about profound loss, the idea of parenting, in some way or another, appears in so many great films this year.

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
The Trap of Perfect Victimhood by Amy Northup

Rod Blackhurst
1. Dune
2. Antlers
3. A Quiet Place Part II
4. In the Heights
5. Titane
6. Pig
7. The Card Counter
8. The Green Knight
9. The Power of the Dog
10. C’mon C’mon

Notes
The industry is upside down.

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
Reflections on the Making of a Hybrid Film: This Is Not a War Story

Cheryl Dunn
1. Summer of Soul
2. The Power of the Dog
3. Parallel Mothers
4. Licorice Pizza
5. The Velvet Underground
6. Moments Like This Never Last
7. Paper & Glue
8. The First Wave
9. Spencer
10. Shiva Baby

Ferdinando Cito Filomarino
1. The Card Counter
2. First Cow
3. Annette
4. The Power of The Dog
5. Days
6. Memoria
7. Undine
8. The Hole
9. France
10. Summer of Soul

Notes
Unfortunate amount of films seen at home this year. Many films that came out during the pandemic deserve to be reassessed!

Alex H. Fischer
1. Licorice Pizza
2. The Hand of God
3. Bergman Island
4. The Souvenir Part II
5. The French Dispatch
6. Annette
7. Titane
8. Judas and the Black Messiah
9. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Sundance)
10. Red Rocket

Notes
ALSO! Mia Hansen-Love’s All is Forgiven (2007, but only released in theaters this year in the U.S.) at Metrograph)

Patrick Forbes
1. No Time to Die
2. The Power of the Dog
3. Belfast
4. Flee
5. The Tender Bar
6. The Rescue
7. Last Night in Soho
8. Licorice Pizza
9. C’mon C’mon
10. The Velvet Underground

Notes
Normally I hate Bond; meaningless stunts, stiff upper lips, and stiffer acting. But I loved No Time to Die. The photography was exquisite. The direction by Cary Fukanaga brilliant, turning Daniel Craig into a compelling, totemic figure, the camera trained on his every flicker of expression. And lo’ the script actually meant something – pain, love, loss, female strength. Not topics that have troubled Bond scriptwriters hitherto. And above all, a brilliant communal experience; a reminder of the power of cinema. The small boy in front of me who spilt his pop-corn in horror as Craig, sorry Bond, died; the gasp as Lea Seydoux said goodbye; the cheer that greeted the final caption, “James Bond will return.” He better had.

Michael Gallagher
1. Pig
2. Licorice Pizza
3. Some Kind of Heaven
4. Shiva Baby
5. Old Henry
6. A Film About A Father Who
7. The Killing of Two Lovers
8. King Richard
9. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
10. Zola

Jordan Graham
1. Titane
2. The Wanting Mare
3. The French Dispatch
4. Spencer
5. Licorice Pizza
6. C’mon C’mon
7. Red Rocket
8. The Green Knight
9. Lamb
10. My Heart Won’t Beat Unless You Tell It To

Notes
Films I was hoping to see that might have made the list is: Memoria, Vortex, The Worst Person in the World, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Rang Zong.

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
Death, Myth and Dreaming in Wuthering Heights

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
1. The Rescue
2. Summer of Soul
3. King Richard
4. The French Dispatch
5. Spencer
6. No Time to Die
7. The Sparks Brothers
8. Nomadland
9. Minari
10. Dune

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
Home Alone is the Greatest Christmas Movie of All, Especially During a Pandemic

Megan Griffiths
1. C’mon C’mon
2. The Lost Daughter
3. Don’t Look Up
4. Drive My Car
5. The Last Duel
6. I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking)
7. No Sudden Move
8. The Novice
9. East of the Mountains
10. King Richard

Chadd Harbold
1. West Side Story (Steven Spielberg)
2. Zeros and Ones (Abel Ferrara)
3. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion)
4. Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)
5. The Beatles: Get Back (Peter Jackson)
6. Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
7. The Card Counter (Paul Schrader)
8. Old (M. Night Shyamalan)
9. Annette (Leos Carax)
10. NYC Epicenters 9/112021½ (Spike Lee)

Notes
Honorable Mentions: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar, Benedetta, Cry Macho, Drive My Car, Dune, F9, The French Dispatch, Keep Punching: The Making of Rocky Vs. Drago by Sylvester Stallone, The Last Duel, Malignant, The Many Saints of Newark, The Matrix Resurrections, Naomi Osaka, No Sudden Move, Procession, Siberia, The Souvenir: Part II, Stillwater, The Velvet Underground, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
reRunning Happy Life by Michael M. Bilandic

Chad Hartigan
1. Ema
2. Licorice Pizza
3. Judas and the Black Messiah
4. Annette
5. Little Girl
6. The Last Duel
7. West Side Story
8. Shiva Baby
9. Mandibles
10. The Green Knight

Notes
I am very grateful that I got to see 9 of these top 10 films in a theater with an audience. Long may it continue!

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
No Script. No Budget. No Crew. No Problem.

Jim Hemphill
1. The Last Duel
2. Bad Trip
3. Cinderella
4. Benedetta
5. The Matrix: Resurrections
6. Licorice Pizza
7. No Time to Die
8. The Card Counter
9. Red Rocket
10. Cry Macho

Notes
In a year that saw several terrific musicals (In the Heights, West Side Story, etc.), the best of the bunch was Kay Cannon’s spectacularly entertaining Cinderella, a deliriously romantic and hilarious pop epic that deserves a lot more credit than it has been given.

Taylor Hess
1. The Power of the Dog
2. Quo Vadis, Aida?
3. The Truffle Hunters
4. Licorice Pizza
5. Bergman Island
6. Ascension
7. King Richard
8. Bo Burnham: Inside
9. Drive My Car
10. Lapsis

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
I loved the recent piece by Pete Ohs <3

Gillian Wallace Horvat
1. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar
2. Old
3. Zola
4. A Film About A Father Who (this was on my list last year but it got a theatrical release this year so happy to have it back on)
5. The Trouble With Being Born
6. Ema
7. The Last Duel
8. Chaos Walking (with the original Charlie Kaufman script that I can only imagine)
9. Things Heard & Seen
10. Paul Schrader says it’s disingenuous not to put your own film on your year end list if you like it, and I like it and I live in fear of contradicting Paul Schrader so: I Blame Society

Notes
2021 was the year of go big or go home. If in this year of straitened resources and universal misery you weren’t trying something new, wild, or insane… I honestly don’t think you should be doing this job. This is not the time to play it safe. While some of the films on my list weren’t perfect, I respected their scope and the director’s fortitude to hold on to their vision in spite of what I’m sure were copious notes. There’s a lot of films that I expect would go in the list that I haven’t watched like TitaneBenedetta and Zeros and Ones, and there’s a lot that hasn’t come out in L.A. and is not available to a non-critic non-guild member but I’m sure I would have included The Worst Person in the World and Bad Luck Banging if I had the chance to see them.

Jim Hosking
1. Compartment No. 6 (Juho Kuosmanen)
2. The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier)
3. Red Rocket (Sean Baker)
4. The Alpinist (Peter Mortimer & Nick Rosen)
5. In Front of Your Face (Hong Sang-soo)
6. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
7. The Most Beautiful Boy in the World (Kristina Lindström & Kristian Petri)
8. First Cow (Kelly Reichardt)
9. Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
10. Parallel Mothers (Pedro Almodóvar)

Notes:
Most of these films are small-scale human stories exploring unlikely characters, unlikely friendships, unlikely relationships. The most arresting scene was in Memoria when fish-scrubbing Hernán lies down and sleeps / dies momentarily. The most terrifying film was The Alpinist as Marc-André Leclerc goes on insane climb after insane climb with his big ice-stabbing sickles to support him, or whatever they’re called. The biggest laugh was in Red Rocket when the camera zooms in for a half-second on some truly liberated al fresco Texan love-making. Hong Sang-soo always gets in there. It feels like I saw some of these films 58 years ago.

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
My Journey To Adrienne

Ben Hozie
1. The Beatles: Get Back
2. Kajillionaire
3. The French Dispatch
4. Zola
5. The Card Counter
6. Annette
7. Shirley
8. We Are
9. The Velvet Underground
10. Project Space 13

Notes
There are so many films I haven’t seen yet so this list will surely change very shortly…

Lloyd Kaufman
1. #ShakespearesShitstorm
2. Divide And Conquer
3. Slashening: The Final Beginning
4. Cyrano
5. Jenny 4 Ever (a series)
6. I Need You Dead
That is all I remember…

Amanda Kramer
1. Titane
2. The Card Counter
3. Ema
4. Benedetta
5. Annette
6. Old
7. About Endlessness
8. Saint Narcisse
9. Sweet Thing
10. Zeros and Ones

Mynette Louie
1. Drive My Car
2. Identifying Features
3. The Pink Cloud
4. Last Night in Soho
5. The Worst Person in the World
6. The French Dispatch
7. The Mitchells vs. the Machines
8. Annette
9. Zola
10. Parallel Mothers

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
I Love Difficult Women

Ryan McGlade
1. The Beatles: Get Back (Peter Jackson)
2. About Endlessness (Roy Andersson)
3. Can’t Get You Out of My Head (Adam Curtis)
4. Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time (Hideaki Anno)
5. Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
6. A Dim Valley (Brandon Colvin)
7. Procession (Robert Greene)
8. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Jane Schoenbrun)
9. Old (M. Night Shyamalan)
10. Zeros and Ones (Abel Ferrara)

Notes
Would be remiss not to include that I also loved Annette, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, The Card Counter, Dune and West Side Story – as well as the standard disclaimer that there were many more films released this year that I still need to see and will no doubt end up on future revisions of my 2021 Top 10.

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
Crayola Crayons and the Price of Being Black by Wendell B. Harris, Jr.

Crystal Moselle
1. A Chiara
2. You Resemble Me
3. The Worst Person in the World
4. The Lost Daughter
5. Red Rocket
6. Zola
7. Luna Piena
8. How It Ends

Kent Osborne
1. The Beatles: Get Back
2. Pig
3. The Green Knight
4. Bad Trip
5. The French Dispatch
6. Godzilla vs Kong
7. Nuclear Family
8. Cryptozoo
9. Zola

Notes
I haven’t seen Red RocketMacbeth or Licorice Pizza yet because I live in the woods

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
Memories of a Hollywood Dog Walker by Tipper Newton

James Ponsoldt
1. Drive My Car
2. The Power of the Dog
3. Licorice Pizza
4. Summer of Soul
5. The Green Knight
6. Titane
7. Listening to Kenny G
8. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
9. Zola
10. C’mon C’mon

Notes
The comfort food I needed at the end of 2021 was season 2 of How to With John Wilson and, of course, The Beatles: Get Back. If I could loop them both and live in them for a while, I probably would.

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
The Long Shadow of Las Vegas

Cooper Raiff
1. The Souvenir: Part II
2. Pig
3. Drive My Car
4. Petite Maman
5. Parallel Mothers
6. Bergman Island
7. Flee
8. The Lost Daughter
9. Test Pattern
10. The Worst Person in the World

Michael Reich
1. Annette
2. Luca
3. Licorice Pizza
4. Bergman Island
5. Dune
6. The Mitchells vs. The Machines
7. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
8. Summer of Soul
9. Giving Birth To A Butterfly
10. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

Terrie Samundra
1. Drive My Car
2. The Beatles: Get Back
3. The Power of the Dog
4. Titane
5. The Hand of God
6. The Green Knight
7. Lamb
8. Dune
9. Writing with Fire
10. The Medium

Dash Shaw
1. Clay Dream by Evans
2. Circumstantial Pleasures by Klahr
3. Double Wow by Jacobs
4. No. 7 Cherry Lane by Yonfan
5. Dune Part One / The French Dispatch by Villeneuve / Anderson
6. Bad Attitude by Stern
7. El Planeta by Ulman
8. All Light, Everywhere by Anthony
9. Blue Fear by Jacotey and Legrand
10. The Spine of Night by Gelatt and King

Notes
I only listed new movies; my favorite movie was the remastered 1980 Bubble Bath by György Kovásznai. Clay Dream is a documentary about Will Vinton, of “claymation” fame, and it was especially powerful to see it while touring Cryptozoo and thinking about how to continue making unusual animated features in the States. Thanks so much to Marq Evans for making that doc.

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
The Long Road to Strawberry Mansion

Leah Shore
1. West Side Story
2. Dune
3. Annette
4. Fear Street Trilogy
5. Swan Song
6. Bo Burnham: Inside
7. Titane
8. Halston
9. Sisters With Transistors
10. Superdeep

Chelsea Stardust
1. The Night House (Dir. David Bruckner)
2. Nomadland (Dir Chloe Zhao)
3. The Fear Street Trilogy (Dir. Leigh Janiak)
4. King Richard (Dir. Renaldo Marcus Green)
5. Lucky (Dir. Natasha Kermani)
6. Moxie (Dir. Amy Poehler)
7. Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings (Dir. Destin Daniel Cretton)
8. Censor (Dir. Prano Bailey-Bond)
9. The Stylist (Dir. Jill Gevargizian)
10. The Beatles: Get Back (Dir. Peter Jackson)

Notes
I was way behind this year—I’m just now catching up on most of the award consideration films (just got my screeners for everything!) but these ones all come to mind when thinking of my top 10 of films I’ve seen so far. The Night House was my favorite theater-going experience of 2021. This film is best seen on a large screen, with the volume up and the lights out. It’s beautifully directed, full of unnerving scares that burrow under your skin, and a plot that keeps you guessing.

Travis Stevens
1. Violet
2. The Power of the Dog
3. Titane
4. All the Streets are Silent
5. Val
6. A Glitch in the Matrix
7. The Sleeping Negro
8. Come True
9. The Velvet Underground
10. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

Notes
The quality I enjoyed the most from the films on this list, was the courage and experimentation with cinematic form that the filmmakers used to tell these stories. Whether it was Todd Haynes utilizing other artworks to emphasize the cultural context surrounding The Velvet Underground, or Jane Campion using the conventions of a slasher film to heighten the feeling of helplessness in The Power of the Dog, Rodney Asher’s decision to use digital avatars to stand in for his interview subjects in A Glitch in the Matrix, or Val‘s use of home videos to reclaim the narrative of his creative and professional life, 2021 was filled with bold filmmaking choices that not only heightened the stories in simple and exciting ways, but felt like proof that there is still progression happening in this medium. In a year filled with interesting examples, the movie that touched me the most was Justine Bateman’s directorial debut, Violet. Her aggressive use of an inner monologue via voiceover and on-screen text so effectively conveys the moment-by-moment ups and downs of crippling insecurity, that you are not just watching the story of the title character trying to overcome her self-doubt, but you are experiencing her do it, along with her, in real time. It is cinema as an immersive emotional event … and powerfully engaging given how limited modern cinema can often feel.

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
How My First Film Was Sabotaged from Within

Sandi Tan
1. The Souvenir Part II
2. Zola
3. Ascension
4. The Velvet Underground
5. The Worst Person in the World
6. Drive My Car
7. Procession
8. No Time To Die
9. The Power of the Dog
10. The Lost Daughter

Notes
I haven’t seen Licorice Pizza yet! It may unseat one of the above.

Alex Thompson
1. The Beatles: Get Back
Once surrendered to, it’s euphoric.
2. Bergman Island
I had similar experiences with Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere and Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper, mysterious little movies I turned on or walked into at odd times with little expectation and haven’t stopped thinking about since.
3. Licorice Pizza
As masterful as you’d expect, but earnest, too, and thrilling for it.
4. The Green Knight
Haunted and lived-in in a way that would feel impossible were it not for Lowery’s other work, which somehow also feels ancient and Arthurian.
5. Ninja Baby
Defies expectation; also it is perfect and the hardest I’ve laughed in years.
6. / 7. / 8. The Power of the Dog / Petite Maman / The Lost Daughter
I love the simple pleasure of a great story told by a great storyteller.
9./10. Red Rocket/Nightmare Alley
Bradley Cooper = the spitting image of Bruce Bennett

Honorable mention: No Sudden Move
I watched it on my Yiayia’s iPad and I loved it.

Matthew Wilder
1. The French Dispatch
2. Gunda
3. About Endlessness
4. New Order
5. The Killing of Two Lovers
6. Memoria
7. France
8. State Funeral
9. A Quiet Place Part II
10. Dune

Notes
Superb performances of 2021: LaKeith Stanfield in Judas and the Black Messiah, Sean Penn in Flag Day and Licorice Pizza, Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth, Millicent Simonds in A Quiet Place Part II, Jodie Foster in The Mauritanian, Léa Seydoux in France, Devyn McDowell in Annette, Charlotte Rampling in Benedetta, Frankie Shaw in No Sudden Move, Timothy Spall in Spencer, and, above all, Jonah Hill in Don’t Look Up.

Eleanor Wilson
1. Licorice Pizza
2. The Souvenir Part II
3. Bergman Island
4. Annette
5. Judas and the Black Messiah
6. Red Rocket
7. Lamb
8. CODA
9. Summer of Soul
10. Titane

Notes
Also from Sundance 2021, not released yet: We’re All Going To The World’s Fair. I haven’t had the chance to see the following movies, but assume they could become favorites: Drive My Car, The Humans, The Worst Person In The World, Benedetta

Favorite Talkhouse Film piece of 2021:
Hamlet 2 Could Be a Cult Classic

Jonathan Wysocki
1. The Disciple
2. The Souvenir Part II
3. The Lost Daughter
4. Quo Vadis, Aida?
5. Tick, Tick… Boom!
6. West Side Story
7. Dune
8. The Power of the Dog
9. Licorice Pizza
10. Shiva Baby

Notes
I didn’t realize how emotional I’d be to return to movie theaters to watch films collectively in the dark. Whether it was a big, splashy musical or a small, intimate drama, seeing cinema in a cinema remains a transcendent experience for me. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to bring cinemas back from the brink.

Ela Bittencourt’s Essay on “Film About a Father Who”

Ira Sachs Sr. w Painting in Film About a Father Who

Essay on Film About a Father Who directed by Lynne Sachs

“He knows he will live in me
after he is dead, I will carry him like a mother.
I do not know if I will ever deliver.”

Sharon Olds, from the book of poems, The Father

There are so many possible entry points into Lynne Sachs’s A Film About a Father Who, an incredibly poignant and astute film sonnet on the director’s father, Ira Nathan Sachs, that over my repeated viewings I’ve begun to think of the film as a kind of quilt. Each of its patches unique and carefully hand-stitched into the fabric of its mosaic parts. Or perhaps a wondrous maze that a viewer winds her way through, and out, by pulling a delicate Ariadne’s thread. 

I think it’s apt that the Greek mythology should have sprung to my mind. Aren’t all families somehow mythic, especially the troubled ones? The patriarch of the Sachs clan is certainly very Sphinx-like: an object, at once, of boundless adoration and love, but also a slippery man of mystery whose acts arouse genuine puzzlement in all his children. A god whose many faces are like a visage of a broken statue — bits that can never be whole again, but only awkwardly pieced, with glue, disjointed surfaces showing through, sharp edges painful to the touch. 

In the film’s first introductory clip, the scionSachs, Sr. appears with his characteristic wisps of blond hair clinging to his skull, his bushy moustache, and somewhat restless and piercing blue eyes. He’s a “hippie businessman,” who “works as little as possible,” and “bottles water he can never stock.” In one shot, he stands framed by a mountainous vista (it turns out that Sachs developed hotels in Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival is held). The father speaks of his love for skiing, where you “go up slow and come down fast.” A comment that Sachs comments on in her own presciently clipped way: “To own a mountain from which there is nothing you can do but come down.”

I was struck by how this sentence is a gorgeous metaphor for pretty much how we relate to our parents — the most primordial love, which turns them into heroic, mythical, statue-like beings, mountain slopes from which, indeed, they can only come down. And how much of growing into adulthood is about the sudden vertigo of having to rewind, recalibrate our memories of the familial bind, from the times when we were still too innocent, too small, to have truly understood it. If we love them enough, we catch them coming down. We are mindful to pick up the pieces, glimpsing in their downfall from immortal heights the first sightings of our own fragility.

A Film About a Father Who is then an origin story, but one that’s never smug about its certainties, and always self-doubtful of how “it all” began. Sachs opens the film with a scene in which she’s cutting her elderly father’s hair, a moment so low-key yet so potent, because it is non-verbal. Everything else in the film – the tale of how the father managed to lie and cheat for so many years, how he hid his multiple affairs and his many children by different women from each other, for decades – all this will need to be explained. But the hair-cutting, with Sachs holding the scissors, untangling the knots, so that to snip them, lives outside language, time, it is an act of generosity and love, through which a small portion of  care may me given back. Then there’s the scissors, which once again circle back to the metaphor of quilting, cutting things to pieces, and stitching them together — film editing itself like quilting, the kind of hands-on experimental cinema that Sachs practices, in particular, like the intricate, patient, artisanal task. 

Sachs begins her story with the immediate family nucleus, her father, mother and her siblings, Dana and the filmmaker Ira Sachs. In this first central patch, there is still a certain sense of cohesion, as if the rest of the film could shoulder the illusion of producing a unified body of work; as if the process of delving into the past could heal, through rendering the small patches whole. Nothing like this occurs, it turns out. The more there is to discover, the more women and children enter the picture, the more quilt-like the film’s overall composition becomes. It demands to be seen as unruly, with each person, each story and heartache, finding its own proper place.

Among the father’s lovers are Diana, whose faint voice betrays terrible shyness, both on the subject’s part, but perhaps also the filmmaker’s. The inherent question of how to probe without hurting, how to make space for learning and empathy, but also establish a critical distance, is always keenly felt. Over the course of the film, this empathetic investigation becomes emboldened — either reflecting the director’s natural progression, or perhaps a mere artifact of thoughtful, painstaking editing, through which each woman’s testimony enriches the others. With Diana, for example, Sachs plants the idea of “companionship,” which apparently Sachs’s father used to seduce the young immigrant, Diana. And yet, Diana’s profile, cast against a dim window, is so lonely, so desolate, the word gains a heartbreaking, bitterly ironic twang. 

If, as Tolstoy believed, all happy families are alike, but the unhappy ones suffer in distinct ways, Sachs’s film is indeed an epic that embodies a Tolstoian ethos. “I’ve been making this film about my father for twenty-six years now,” Sachs says at one point. In another she adds, “Can I make myself forget that for the first twenty years of my sister’s life I didn’t know of her existence?” 

It’s a challenge to tell a story of such breadth without giving in to the tyranny of summary. But Sachs is never guilty of it, perhaps because, from the start, she strikes a patient but also an ironic tone. She holds out each cesura and is never rushed. Her carefully planted voiceovers, which echo, like refrains, emphasize dissonance, slippage, and paradox—as if to borrow Emily Dickinson’s motto, “Tell the truth, but tell it slant.” It’s a particularly poignant approach to a subject who is himself quite unable to offer this level of complete honesty, or transparency. We might have grown frustrated with such a subject, as too illusive, too coy, and yet, when centered in and filtered through Sachs’s voice, her father’s slipperiness becomes part of the game, a psychological, moral, philosophical quest for a glimmer of comprehension, and solace.

Again and again, this filmic richness emerges, where the previous parts of the film serve as a commentary on what comes next. Take the early family videos, for example. There is so much light, the children bouncing about, the colors overexposed, pushed, which on one hand reminds us of the fragility of earlier technologies, but on the other, doesn’t let us forget that family videos are a particular brand of narrative—or, one might say, fantasy. One makes a family. One constructs a memory. The film contains these small patches of idealized moments, frozen in time, it holds them in, like quilted patches, but it can also reveal them as such. 

What’s brilliant about A Film About a Father Who is that this commentary on the past, on the nature of memory, on storytelling, on love, so often arises directly through its own filmic material. For example, the first dialogue with the mother is framed by a window with a bright light behind it, and it too seems part of the established idealized childhood space. As if the previous Impressionist brushes of light and movement, it too seems to point to brighter times. But when the dialogue continues, with some footage in the kitchen, a subtle change can be felt: It’s as if in a Rorschach test, what first seemed like light, now is the reverse, the shadow, the impermeability that beams into the kitchen, whereas the light is shut out, outside.

Thus the film builds and sustains its own cognitive dissonance. Sometimes, Sachs’s commentary seems to almost spill over, frame to frame, like a river, sometimes lyrical, sometimes critical, on her father’s behavior—while the image occasionally stops, holds almost still, desperately focusing the lens, surrendering to a blur. Somewhere in this tension, there’s language that fails, phrases like “a hippie businessman,” which try to establish just what the father is, how he might be summed up, then slowly letting go of substantive terms, and allowing adjectives, “caring,” “selfish,” “careless,” “loving” to cast their spell. If there’s a vertigo in these descriptions, it’s once again because the Sphinx-like puzzle isn’t meant to be solved. The film presents no solution; it can only ask, but this asking is also somehow enough. It is the necessary work. 

The extended family grows, and so do group meetings, to include the younger generations. Some of the father’s children are born roughly around the same time as Sachs’s own daughter, Maya. In one scene, the young woman, Beth, expresses anger at having been cast out, and grown up in a harsh financial situation. Yet another mentions that she felt like the family’s powerful matriarch, Grandmother “Maw-Maw,” was going to disinherit her son, if more children surfaced, and so her existence was hidden. Earlier hesitations or questions are recast in a more discerning light. The careful trudging around fraught issues give in to Sachs’s direct question to her father about the lies. And if there is no immediate healing within the film’s constructed timeframe, there is a gesture and a reconciliation in a therapeutic exchange, in which each person voices her own hurt.

“Daughter, sister, mother, I cleave from one to another,” Sachs comments in the voiceover, heeding the lexical and experiential complexity of her many roles. And so the film never settles. It presents no center from which to control, contain, or judge. Instead, like Ariadne’s thread, it tugs, pulls, apart, anew, and so we’re guided the maze, enlightened, by the strings of love.


About Ela Bittencourt
Ela Bittencourt is a critic and cultural journalist, currently based in São Paulo. She writes on art, film and literature, often in the context of social issues and politics.

Film About a Father Who on 12 Best Films of 2021 Lists

RogerEbert.com

https://www.rogerebert.com/features/the-individual-top-tens-of-2021

SIMON ABRAMS
1. “Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream”
2. “State Funeral
3. “Wojnarowciz: F*ck You F*ggot F**ker”
4. “The Disciple
5. “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection”
6. “Days
7. “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
8. “The French Dispatch”
9. “Film About a Father Who”
10. “A Shape of Things to Come”
MATT ZOLLER SEITZ
1. “The Velvet Underground
2. “Summer of Soul”
3. “Procession”
4. “Drive My Car”
5. “The French Dispatch
6. “The Power of the Dog”
7. “Titane
8. “The Harder They Fall
9. “The Last Duel
10. “Holler
Runners-Up: “17 Blocks,” “Annette,” “Azor,” “A Cop Movie,” “A Film About a Father Who,” “Godzilla vs Kong,” “The Humans,” “Mass,” “M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity,” “The Night,” “Pig,” “Riders of Justice,” “Wild Indian,” “Wrath of Man,” “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” and “Zola


The Film Stage

https://thefilmstage.com/the-best-documentaries-of-2021/
The state of surveillance, intimate music celebrations, Helen Keller’s socialist ethos, refugee tales, examining the scars of abuse in the Catholic Church, and living a life solely through cinema—just a few of the subjects and stories this year’s documentaries brought us. With 2021 wrapping up, we’ve selected 16 features in the field that left us most impressed.

All Light, Everywhere (Theo Anthony)
Attica (Stanley Nelson and Traci Curry)
The Beatles: Get Back (Peter Jackson)
Her Socialist Smile (John Gianvito)Faya Dayi (Jessica Beshir)Film About a Father Who (Lynne Sachs)Flee (Jonas Poher Rasmussen)Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream (Frank Beauvais)No Ordinary Man (Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt)Procession (Robert Greene)Sabaya (Hogir Hirori)Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Amir “Questlove” Thompson)The Witches of the Orient (Julien Faraut)The Two Sights (Joshua Bonnetta)The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes)
The Viewing Booth (Ra’anan Alexandrowicz)


Film Comment

https://www.filmcomment.com/best-films-of-2021-individual-ballots/

Ela Bittencourt
Anne at 13,000 ft
Attica
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Beginning
El Planeta
Faya Dayi
Film About a Father Who
France
Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream
Mother, I Am Suffocating. This Is My Last Film About You.
Saint Maud
The Power of the Dog
The Viewing Booth
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?

Mackenzie Lukenbill (Film Comment)

  1. El Planeta
  2. Slow Machine
  3. The Souvenir Part II
  4. Bergman Island
  5. North By Current
  6. Test Pattern
  7. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
  8. Film About a Father Who
  9. Undine
  10. The Velvet Underground
  11. Ema
  12. The American Sector
  13. Paris Calligrammes

Chris Shields

  1. Annette
  2. Nina Wu
  3. Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue
  4. Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts
  5. About Endlessness
  6. Film About a Father Who
  7. Beginning
  8. Raging Fire

Screen Slate Best Movies of 2021: First Viewings & Discoveries and Individual Ballots

https://www.screenslate.com/articles/best-movies-2021-first-viewings-discoveries-and-individual-ballots#sun
In addition to top 2021 releases, Screen Slate has once again invited contributors, friends, critics, and filmmakers—including Michael Almereyda, Jessica Beshir, Jim Jarmusch, Radu Jude, Guy Maddin, Alex Ross Perry, Josh Safdie, Sandi Tan, and Amalia Ulman—to submit lists of 2021 “first viewings and discoveries.”

ANTHONY BANUA-SIMON

The Inheritance
Pig
Whirlybird
I Blame Society
So Late So Soon
Annette
The Card Counter
Film About a Father Who
The American Sector
Delphine’s Prayers

NELLIE KILLIAN
These are my 30 best watches of 2021: new, new to me, and rewatches.

Back Street (Stahl) 1932
Trade Tattoo (Lye) 1937
5th Ave Girl (La Cava) 1939
The Ox-Bow Incident (Wellman) 1943
The House on Telegraph Hill (Wise) 1951
The Revolt of Mamie Stover (Walsh) 1956
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (Luske & Reitherman) 1961
Charulata (Ray) 1964
The Pumpkin Eater (Clayton) 1964
Petulia (Lester) 1968
Indecent Desires (Wishman) 1968
Top of the Heap (St. John) 1972
The United States of American (Gordon & Benning) 1975
Night of the Hunted (Rollin) 1980
Shoot the Moon (Parker) 1982
The Stuff (Cohen) 1985
That’s Life (Edwards) 1986
Faceless (Franco) 1987
White Hunter Black Heart (Eastwood) 1990
Deep Blues (Mugge) 1992
Cabin Boy (Resnick) 1994
Secrets & Lies (Leigh) 1996
Honey Moccasin (Niro) 1998
The Gates (Maysles) 2007
Project X (Nourizadeh) 2012
Subject to Review (Anthony) 2019
Patrick (Fowler) 2020
Film About a Father Who (Sachs) 2020
Dear Chantal (Pereda) 2021
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (Koberidze) 2021

CHRIS SHIELDS
1. Annette
2. Nina Wu
3. Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue
4. Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts
5. About Endlessness
6. Film About a Father Who
7. Beginning
8. Raging Fire


Seventh Row: Best Documentaries of 2021 & Best Films of 2021 Lists

Best Docs
We spent a large part of 2021 writing an ebook called Subjective realities: The art of creative nonfiction. Seventh Row as a publication has always been interested in nonfiction cinema, but it wasn’t until Subjective realities that we realised just how much vital work is being done right now in the documentary landscape.

You’ll see on this list films like Still ProcessingProcession, and North by Current, that question how filmmaking can be a tool to help people process grief and trauma. You’ll find films like No Ordinary Man and John Ware Reclaimed, which use documentary as a way to reclaim historical narratives about marginalised people. There’s films on this list that interrogate family bonds, colonialism, and immigration, all in innovative and deeply empathetic ways. They prove that there’s no greater tool than nonfiction to question how stories are told, and to tell new ones.

Best Films
On today’s Seventh Row Podcast episode on the best films of 2021, we concluded that it’s been an exceptional year for cinema, so much so that even our top ten couldn’t hold all the films we thought were enduringly special. What’s also striking is that, to find the incredible films that populate our top thirty of the year, we had to look outside of the USA, even though that’s the country that usually dominates awards and trade publications’ lists. Our list only features three American films, all of them documentaries, compared to last year’s ten.

5. Film About a Father Who feels like a culmination of a career of family-focused work; it’s ambitious, attempting to take in the whole scope of Ira Sachs Sr.’s life. In non-chronological fragments, through footage spanning from the present day back to 1965, Sachs seeks to understand the complicated, unknowable figure of her father. In the end, the film doesn’t aim to be a comprehensive character study of Ira Sachs Sr.; Sachs realises that she has only so much access to her father’s mind, especially now that his declining health means that he can’t speak that much. Instead, she works with what she does have: access to herself, and to an extent, her siblings, to examine the bruises that a father leaves on his children, and how they attempt to heal.” Read the full profile.

The Film Stage: “Film About A Father Who” Selected – Best Documentaries of 2021

The Best Documentaries of 2021
The Film Stage 
December 14, 2021
https://thefilmstage.com/the-best-documentaries-of-2021/

The state of surveillance, intimate music celebrations, Helen Keller’s socialist ethos, refugee tales, examining the scars of abuse in the Catholic Church, and living a life solely through cinema—just a few of the subjects and stories this year’s documentaries brought us. With 2021 wrapping up, we’ve selected 16 features in the field that left us most impressed. If you’re looking for where to stream them, check out our handy guide here.

All Light, Everywhere (Theo Anthony)
Seemingly birthed from some kind of virtuosic computer algorithm or beamed directly from outer space, Theo Anthony’s debut feature Rat Film was a peculiarly engaging, wholly fascinating documentary. Using the population of rats to chart the history of classism and systemic racism throughout Baltimore over decades, it heralded an original new voice in nonfiction filmmaking. When it comes to his follow-up All Light, Everywhere, Anthony casts a wider focus while still retaining the same unique vision as he explores how technological breakthroughs (and pitfalls) in filmmaking have reverberated throughout history to both embolden and trick our perceptions of perspective. To thread these strands and see its modern-day effects, the majority of the film looks at the engineering behind police body cameras, and the extensive use of those devices and other surveillance equipment to support officers in cases where evidence might otherwise come down to only verbal testimonies. – Jordan R. (full review)

Attica (Stanley Nelson and Traci Curry)
There’s a moment towards the end of Stanley Nelson and Traci Curry’s documentary Attica where a white state trooper is seen putting his fist in the air while screaming, “That’s White Power!” The other men around him smile and cheer because they’ve scored a victory for white men in blue. They’ve just taken back the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility after a five-day stand-off where about 1,200 inmates rebelled and took 42 staff members hostage to negotiate prison reform. And they did it, in their own words, with “White Power.” How is “White Power” defined? Well, as the footage and first-hand accounts reveal, it means knowingly picking off unarmed Black and Brown men with high-powered artillery after saying they wouldn’t be hurt. “White Power” is white supremacy. And cowardice. – Jared M. (full review)

The Beatles: Get Back (Peter Jackson)
Let’s not ignore the key flaws: the digital grading can run far more egregious than Smooth Ringo, at times flattening these historic images to resemble 480p YouTube content; whether it be victim of available material or poor contemporary instinct, some editing (especially in part one) tries to keep our attention when we’re really here for the minutiae; and even to this Beatles freak it’s a mite too long. And yet. You realize, no, you’ve really never seen Lennon and McCartney talking one-on-one, in private, about basic tasks of running their band, and while you saw that one piece of incredible footage in Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s Let It Be, that was 11 years ago on Google Video. (Let’s not even get into now-clear implications the 1970 film is something of a hit piece.) In full view of its seven-and-a-half hours, Peter Jackson’s documentary is nearly impossible to discount: it seeks a vision of genius at work and finds it in the struggle of friends about to come apart. – Nick N.

Her Socialist Smile (John Gianvito)
You may have known that Helen Keller was a comrade, a life-long socialist and member of the Industrial Workers of the World; in Her Socialist Smile, John Gianvito assembles Keller’s political addresses and writings into a portrait of a warrior for social justice and a passionate, insightful proselytizer of Marxist thought. She instigated a Braille translation of Bakunin and advocated for a general strike during the first Red Scare. Now, in a time of national self-criticism, when seemingly no American monument is safe from revisionism, Helen Keller emerges from Her Socialist Smile to appear even more inspiring, relevant, and righteous than in the official narrative—appears, perhaps, the only truly based person they teach you about in elementary school. – Mark A. (full review)

Faya Dayi (Jessica Beshir)
“Look how far God has brought us. We can only go where God guides us to. We are exactly where God wants us to be.” These are the first words spoken in Jessica Beshir’s ruminative and ravishing feature debut Faya Dayi, and it establishes a conversational dialogue with a higher realm that carries through the rest of this graceful, ethereal journey through Ethiopia. Specifically exploring the trade of the khat leaf––a hallucinatory plant used by Sufi Muslims for religious meditation but has now become Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop––Beshir deeply immerses the viewer into daily work, spiritual ponderings, and questions of life’s purpose. At times recalling Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s striking black-and-white debut Mysterious Object at Noon and the vivid chiaroscuro work of Pedro Costa, Faya Dayi shares a similar approach to mixing documentary and narrative elements to form a transportive ethnographic survey. – Jordan R. (full review)

Film About a Father Who (Lynne Sachs)
While director Lynne Sachs admits her latest documentary Film About a Father Who could be superficially construed as a portrait (the title alludes to and the content revolves around her father Ira), she labels it a reckoning instead. With thirty-five years of footage shot across varied formats and devices to cull through and piece together, the result becomes less about providing a clear picture of who this man is and more about understanding the cost of his actions. Whether it began that way or not, however, it surely didn’t take long to realize how deep a drop the rabbit hole of his life would prove. Sachs jumped in to discover truths surrounding her childhood only to fall through numerous false bottoms that revealed truths she couldn’t even imagine. – Jared M. (full review)

Flee (Jonas Poher Rasmussen)
There have, of course, been a great many animated films about deeply serious subjects, many in recent years—Persepolis to Anomalisa to Waltz With Bashir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee can now comfortably fit on this shelf of profoundly affecting films. Indeed, this 2021 Sundance Film Festival premiere ranks as one of the most uniquely memorable animated films of the last decade. It is remarkably successful as a study of the refugee experience, as a coming-of-age drama set against a backdrop of fear and danger, and as a tribute to one individual’s ability to survive and even flourish. – Chris S. (full review)

Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream (Frank Beauvais)
After watching over 400 films in the span of just four months, director Frank Beauvais reflects on his life and what led to this cinematic hibernation in Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream, an impressive, rapidly edited, deeply personal cinematic essay. Created solely from clips of the films he watched, it’s far from the kind of video essays that dominate YouTube, rather selecting the briefest of moments, and usually the least-recognizable of shots, to craft self-exploration of a reflective, questioning mind. – Jordan R.

No Ordinary Man (Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt)
In 1998, Dianne Middlebrook published Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton, and the narrative around Billy Tipton’s life was warped. The truth was that Tipton, a successful jazz musician who lived from 1914 to 1989, was a transgender man who lived most of his life pretending to be a cisgender man. When he died, medical examinations revealed that Tipton had been assigned female at birth, which was news to Tipton’s ex-partner Kitty Kelly and their three adopted children. A media circus ensued that presented Tipton as a woman who posed as a man to get ahead in a sexist music industry. Middlebrook’s biography perpetuated that false narrative. – Orla S. (full review)

Procession (Robert Greene)
It begins with a press conference wherein Michael Sandridge, Tom Viviano, and Mike Foreman—all survivors of abuse—discuss how the Catholic Church in Kansas allowed priests to groom and assault them. It’s an obviously tense scene, in large part because of how the Church has engaged in a coordinated cover-up spanning decades, moving pedophiles around to deflect and confuse while simultaneously expanding the number of their victims. Foreman is justifiably enraged as he incredulously scoffs at the fact that the establishment has propped itself upon the salvation of statutes of limitations rather than the empathetic, Christian principles dictated via confession. Those in power would rather hide and lie than admit their complicity while sanctimoniously asking us to believe they’re God’s chosen few. – Jared M. (full review)

Sabaya (Hogir Hirori)
Tense and gripping, Hogir Hirori’s documentary Sabaya never positions itself as a thriller. There’s no need. Barring a few cards of scene-setting exposition, this vital dispatch embeds viewers with a rescue operation in the Middle East, and does so with a degree of first-person access that’s not just instantly bold: it’s nerve-janglingly scary. – Isaac F. (full review)

Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Amir “Questlove” Thompson)
The biggest block party of 1969 took place over six weeks in central Harlem. Clustered together into the rocky confines of Mt. Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park), 300,000 people spent their summer grooving to a free outdoor concert series that featured some of the world’s best gospel, blues, and R&B singers alive. At the intersection of the country’s racial and social revolution, the “Harlem Cultural Festival” offered a cathartic and electric musical experience for those in attendance, combining song and spoken word that inspired and unified. It was also largely forgotten. Which makes Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) both a documentary and a rectification of history. – Jake K. (full review)

The Witches of the Orient (Julien Faraut)
Never doubt a documentary filmmaker’s propensity to eke out the narrowest of niches. We’ve had films on spelling bees and İstanbullu kitties, but the latest comes to us from Japan, via France, and the story of the unlikely heroes of the 1964 Japanese Women’s Olympic volleyball team––and their still less likely second act in the world of anime. The Witches of the Orient offers some flare to go with that intriguing duality: a stylish structure in which footage of the team’s greatest feats are intercut with corresponding animations from the TV shows they later inspired. – Rory O. (full review)

The Two Sights (Joshua Bonnetta)
To quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail, for documentarian Joshua Bonnetta, the Scottish Outer Hebrides is something of a “very silly place.” This is not to denigrate the remote cluster of islands on Scotland’s northern tip, and its inhabitants––far from it. More that, when taken as a whole, Bonnetta has been able to uncover a vast cluster of eccentricity on these sparsely populated lands, where people can see, hear or intuit things others can’t, and then tell of it gladly. Empirical science would question this, of course, but Bonnetta’s interviewees seem to transcend that, and instead carry knowledge more common to the animist practices of early homo sapiens, or maybe another plane of human evolution altogether. To cite a timely cinematic reference point, the desired end-goal of the Bene Gesserit breeding project in Dune, is this ability to intuit the future––the cutting-edge of human evolution in author Frank Herbert’s computer-absent neo-feudal world. – David K. (full review)

The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes)
If you told people in 1967 that Andy Warhol’s house band just released one of the most revered rock albums of all-time, they would ask what they’re called, and when you told them they would laugh. As far as the public was concerned, there were a hundred acts capable of that historical success in the ‘60s, and none were called the Velvet Underground (or Nico). To a certain extent they would be right. It would be another decade before the banana-adorned The Velvet Underground & Nico would have its pop cultural comeuppance and over half a century before the glam avant-garde group would receive definitive documentary treatment by one of the best living filmmakers. But as history and said doc have proven, we would have the last laugh in that exchange. – Luke H. (full review)

The Viewing Booth (Ra’anan Alexandrowicz)
Reality has become an illusion. Look no further than Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s latest documentary The Viewing Booth. He began it as an exercise to see how different people view the same non-fiction footage through their own personal lens of identity. He found seven students with an interest in Israel that were willing to be filmed while screening a selection of YouTube videos he hand-picked as representative of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians where it concerns the occupied territories. Twenty were uploaded by sources with obvious pro-Israeli military ties and twenty others were uploaded by organizations like B’Tselem in pursuit of documenting human rights violations taking place in Jerusalem. How would these co-eds react to each? How would they be impacted by the content? Could their positions be shifted? – Jared M. (full review)

Honorable Mentions

Film Comment – Best Films of 2021: Individual Ballots feature “Film About a Father Who”

Film Comment
Best Films of 2021: Individual Ballots
December 16, 2021
SEE ALL SELECTED FILMS HERE:
https://www.filmcomment.com/best-films-of-2021-individual-ballots/

The results are in for our 2021 poll of Film Comment‘s contributors and colleagues! On this page, you’ll find a selection of the individual ballots submitted by our voters for the “Best Released Films of 2021” category, covering features that were released either theatrically or virtually in 2021 in the United States. To see which films came out on top, check out our Best Films of 2021 list, which features original appreciations from critics, as well as links to features, reviews, and interviews about these films and directors from across the year.

And for new films that our voters loved but which do not yet have stateside distribution, check out our Best Undistributed Films of 2021 list.

Peruse the poll results of yesteryear.

Ela Bittencourt

Anne at 13,000 ft
Attica
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Beginning
El Planeta
Faya Dayi
Film About a Father Who
France
Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream
Mother, I Am Suffocating. This Is My Last Film About You.
Saint Maud
The Power of the Dog
The Viewing Booth
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?

Mackenzie Lukenbill (Film Comment)

  1. El Planeta
  2. Slow Machine
  3. The Souvenir Part II
  4. Bergman Island
  5. North By Current
  6. Test Pattern
  7. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
  8. Film About a Father Who
  9. Undine
  10. The Velvet Underground
  11. Ema
  12. The American Sector
  13. Paris Calligrammes

Chris Shields

  1. Annette
  2. Nina Wu
  3. Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue
  4. Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts
  5. About Endlessness
  6. Film About a Father Who
  7. Beginning
  8. Raging Fire

“Film About a Father Who” Highlighted in Screen Slate – Best Movies of 2021: First Viewings & Discoveries and Individual Ballots

Screen Slate
Best Movies of 2021: First Viewings & Discoveries and Individual Ballots
December 16, 2021

SEE THE COMPLETE SELECTION OF FILMS HERE:
https://www.screenslate.com/articles/best-movies-2021-first-viewings-discoveries-and-individual-ballots#sun

In addition to top 2021 releases, Screen Slate has once again invited contributors, friends, critics, and filmmakers—including Michael Almereyda, Jessica Beshir, Jim Jarmusch, Radu Jude, Guy Maddin, Alex Ross Perry, Josh Safdie, Sandi Tan, and Amalia Ulman—to submit lists of 2021 “first viewings and discoveries.”

ANTHONY BANUA-SIMON
The Inheritance
Pig
Whirlybird
I Blame Society
So Late So Soon
Annette
The Card Counter
Film About a Father Who
The American Sector
Delphine’s Prayers


NELLIE KILLIAN
These are my 30 best watches of 2021: new, new to me, and rewatches.
Back Street (Stahl) 1932
Trade Tattoo (Lye) 1937
5th Ave Girl (La Cava) 1939
The Ox-Bow Incident (Wellman) 1943
The House on Telegraph Hill (Wise) 1951
The Revolt of Mamie Stover (Walsh) 1956
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (Luske & Reitherman) 1961
Charulata (Ray) 1964
The Pumpkin Eater (Clayton) 1964
Petulia (Lester) 1968
Indecent Desires (Wishman) 1968
Top of the Heap (St. John) 1972
The United States of American (Gordon & Benning) 1975
Night of the Hunted (Rollin) 1980
Shoot the Moon (Parker) 1982
The Stuff (Cohen) 1985
That’s Life (Edwards) 1986
Faceless (Franco) 1987
White Hunter Black Heart (Eastwood) 1990
Deep Blues (Mugge) 1992
Cabin Boy (Resnick) 1994
Secrets & Lies (Leigh) 1996
Honey Moccasin (Niro) 1998
The Gates (Maysles) 2007
Project X (Nourizadeh) 2012
Subject to Review (Anthony) 2019
Patrick (Fowler) 2020
Film About a Father Who (Sachs) 2020
Dear Chantal (Pereda) 2021
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (Koberidze) 2021


CHRIS SHIELDS
1. Annette
2. Nina Wu
3. Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue
4. Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts
5. About Endlessness
6. Film About a Father Who
7. Beginning
8. Raging Fire

OBSERVE AND SUBVERT: Lynne Sachs interviewed by Inney Prakash for Metrograph

Interview: OBSERVE AND SUBVERT
BY INNEY PRAKASH
December 2021
https://metrograph.com/observe-and-subvert/

An interview with experimental documentary filmmaker Lynne Sachs.

Our Lynne Sachs Series plays at Metrograph December 10–12.

Several of her films are currently available to watch on the Criterion Channel

Whether portraying artists, historical figures, family members, or strangers, filmmaker Lynne Sachs has always found rivetingly indirect methods of representing her subjects. The San Francisco Weekly called her 2001 film Investigation of a Flame, about the Vietnam War and the Catonsville Nine, a group of Catholic activists who burnt draft files in protest, an “anti-documentary.” Sachs herself now uses the phrase “experimental documentary” as shorthand for describing the formal elements that constitute her particularly idiosyncratic and collage-like cinematic vernacular, notable in work like the decades-in-the-making Film About A Father Who (2020).

Rooted in her days in San Francisco’s experimental scene, Sachs’s concerns are deeply material; they regard the matter that makes up the world as inextricable from the technology that reproduces it. Her investigation of New York City laundromats, The Washing Society (2016), co-directed with playwright Lizzie Olesker, struck me as an apt departure point for our wide-ranging discussion about and around this material awareness, as well as the larger concerns that bridge the gap between her films as works of art and Sachs’s  advocacy for worldly change.


I WANT TO START WITH A WEIRD QUESTION. 

I like weird questions.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LINT?

I have been thinking about lint so much over the last few years. It started with my thinking about skin, and the epidermis, and about clothing being a second layer of our skin—which means that when we collect lint out of the dryer, we’re also catching aspects of our bodies. Sometimes it’s our own bodies, sometimes it’s the bodies of people we love. Sometimes it’s the bodies of people whose clothes are being washed in a transactional way…Iin that flow, you collect something most people think of as detritus. But I actually think of it as material, in the way that Joseph Beuys was really interested in wax and felt. So, lint is material for sculpture, and for an examination of our bodies. When that comes together, I find it very compelling.

I AM, OF COURSE, REFERRING TO A COUPLE OF SPECIFIC SHOTS FROM THE WASHING SOCIETY, WHICH EMPHASIZE SENSUOUSNESS, WHICH IS NOT A WORD I EVER WOULD’VE PREVIOUSLY USED TO DESCRIBE LINT. 

That attention to the microscopic aspects that are residue of the much larger social relationships around service, hygiene, and the exchange of money for someone who performs something for somebody else—lint represents all those things.

IT MAKES ME THINK OF THE WASHING SOCIETY AS AN EXTENSION OF YOUR CAREER-LONG PREOCCUPATION WITH MATERIAL FILM, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS SHOT DIGITALLY.

When we look at traditional 16mm film, we see scratches and hair, like we see in lint. It’s not that different. Because lint collects through the months or ages, it collects aspects of the world. Film does the same thing; it is changed by its journey in time.

My co-director, Lizzie Olesker, and I wanted to figure out ways to examine the interplay between economics, aesthetics, and politics. You look at the form of cinema and you say, “I want to create ruptures. I want to create a radicalization of the way images are represented.“ But it’s also important to look not just at the way the camera reproduces our reality, but what is produced by the reality that might be dismissed or ignored. … Lint is not invisible, but it’s about as close to invisible as it gets. It moves from clothing to the trashcan in a kind of rote way. By breaking up that [journey], we’re trying to look at the mechanisms of labor.

THE WASHING SOCIETY FEATURES ACTUAL LAUNDRY WORKERS AND ACTORS. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS ASPECT OF PERFORMANCE THAT FASCINATES YOU AS A DOCUMENTARIAN?

It occurred to me about a year ago that every single film is a document of a performance. Even a fiction film, which is a bunch of people doing this crazy thing—to reinvent themselves, pretend that they’re different from who they are—we film it, and it’s called a fiction film, but it’s actually a documentary of a group of people together.

What’s started to interest me in the last year is that woven quality that takes seriously that anyone in, for example, a documentary film is performing an aspect of who they are. As soon as they turn their head and they see the camera, they’re performing. And there’s this, you could call it a leash, or an invisible thread [that runs] between my eyes and the eyes of any human being in front of the camera. They’re always looking to the director for some kind of affirmation, like, “Yes, you’re doing a good job.“ It’s the same in documentary. If you actually recognize that this is a form of exchange, then you can try to subvert it. People who are supposed to be ‘real’ become performers, or we have performers who open up about their lives . And so, obscure that rigid differentiation. That’s why I’m not really happy with the term ‘hybrid’ yet. Because it’s saying that this ontological conundrum doesn’t really exist, and that we have to create another category that says, “That’s ambiguously real and that’s ambiguously fiction.“

IN TERMS OF REAL-LIFE SUBJECTS VERSUS HIRED PERFORMERS, HOW DID YOU APPROACH WHO WOULD EXPRESS WHAT IN THE WASHING SOCIETY? THERE ARE TIMES, ESPECIALLY EARLY ON, WHEN IT ISN’T NECESSARILY CLEAR WHO IS WHO. 

With filmmaking, there’s always two answers. There is the production answer: we tried one thing and it didn’t work, so we decided to go another way. And then there’s the more theoretical, maybe conceptual answer.

I WANT BOTH ANSWERS. I’M HUNGRY FOR ANSWERS.

Okay, the conceptual answer first. We wanted to research the experience of what it is to wash the clothes of another person. Particularly in a big city, where people and workplaces can be taken for granted. Lizzie comes out of playwriting, and this notion that you observe the world in which you live, and then you re-create characters who inhabit those experiences you’ve witnessed, or those interactions that confuse you, and that you’re trying to grapple with. And I come out of experimental filmmaking, with documentaries. So you observe and then you subvert.

She asked me if I would help her to investigate laundry workers in New York. We started, and we got really hooked, but most of the people who do this kind of service work in America are also immigrants, and many don’t have the formal paperwork to give them the freedom to be on camera, to talk about the struggles of their workplace or their bosses, who they’re supporting, all those things. So we would have very informal conversations, but we couldn’t record and we couldn’t film.

Our answer was not to give up, but to listen really actively, and then to write the characters, or to write three characters who appear in the film as composites of these conversations. So, there’s Ching Valdes-Aran, Jasmine Holloway, and Veraalba Santa. They’re all performers—the film started as a performance called Every Fold Matters, which we did live in laundromats in Brooklyn and in New York City, and at places like University Settlement, The Tank.

But then, okay, the answer to the conceptual side is that, even though I’ve been making work that you could call reality-based or documentary-based for a long time, I’m always questioning this notion of asking people to open up their lives for me. That’s why I made Film About a Father Who, because I felt like it was my turn to be in that vulnerable position.

One thing I’ve done for years now, I always pay people [who appear] in my films. That’s kind of anathema in documentary. People don’t do that. Especially journalists, which I do understand… But why shouldn’t you pay them the way you would pay an actor?

Often we measure the success of a documentary by how real it is, by the spontaneity of the reveal of information; “I can’t believe you got in that door.“ Or, “I can’t believe you got those people to say that for you with your camera on.“ There’s a lot of registers of success that have to do with the people in front of the camera letting it all hang out, and that’s an awkward exchange… I wanted to have people who felt confident in their place in the world, to speak from that position. If people didn’t feel confident, then we listened, and we tried to embrace their sentiments and struggles in a fictionalized way.

ARE THE ACTORS REPEATING TEXT THAT WAS SPOKEN BY ACTUAL LAUNDRY WORKERS OR WAS THAT TEXT WRITTEN BY YOU AND LIZZIE?

It’s both. We used parts of it, but often we wrote in a more free-form way. It’s really a composite, and there’s a freedom that comes from making a film like this. .. I call it the Maggie Nelson effect, [which is] this idea where you lay bare the research. In The Argonauts, she tells this personal story about her relationship, and she has these fantastic tangents, which are about her research, what she happened to be reading, letting all of that come in.

I can [also] say that we were influenced by Yvonne Rainer. She was such a visionary when it came to choreography, and a celebration of the body through dance. Because she looked at the quotidian, and she ‘deconstructed’— in the word of that period— how we move through the world. We took that approach to how we thought about the dance movements in The Washing Society, how we could re-examine the gestures of the everyday, and think about how they might be beautiful, in the way that Roberta Cantow’s film Clotheslines celebrates the beauty of laundry work. [Lizzie and I] wanted to think about recognising washing as a form of physical dance. Especially because there’s so much repetition, which dance also uses.

CLOTHESLINES HAPPENS TO BE PLAYING ALONGSIDE THE WASHING SOCIETY.

Clotheslines is fantastic. It’s giving attention, again, to urban life, and to things that people do that maybe they feel ashamed of doing but that they have to do. It’s interesting to look at Roberta Cantow’s film, because it’s a twist on the whole idea of being a feminist. Barbara Hammer did something similar; I think the term ‘feminist’ is evolving all the time.

What Roberta Cantow did in her work, I think, is say, “Let’s acknowledge the beauty of what mostly women do. But it doesn’t mean that they’ll become stronger women than when they don’t do it.” … I should add that today I had a conversation with Roberta Cantow. A woman she knew who organizes washerwomen in New York City told her about the screening. Anyway, she told me today that this whole group of organizers around washerwomen, 10 of them, are coming to Metrograph.

THAT’S EXTRAORDINARY.

Yeah. And I’m hoping [for] a group from the Laundry Workers Center, which is a union I’ve done a lot of work with, who organize workers in the small laundromats all over New York City…  If they’re trying to shut down a laundromat or bring attention to conditions that are really, really bad—where people are required to work 12 hours, and they can’t look at their phones, or all the different rules that are had—[Lizzie and I] make videos for them sometimes.

DO YOU CONSIDER FILMMAKING AS A FORM OF ACTIVISM, OR ADJACENT TO IT? WHERE DO THE TWO INTERSECT?

I was thinking about this last night. I went to an event at E-flux, and I was listening to Eric Baudelaire, the filmmaker, talking about this too…. I don’t think I’ve ever made a film that had the ability to make someone act differently, or to push them in a direction. But I always hope it makes them think about who they are differently, or about how the world works in another way. Maybe the result of that would be an action. But if it’s just a thought, that’s pretty good too. I guess it has to do with results, how you measure your reach… I get very excited, like with Investigation of a Flame, by people doing things with passion, and pushing themselves to extremes from which they can never turn back. I mean, that actually goes to Barbara Hammer. [She] lived life to its fullest, and with so much conviction.

BEING IN DIALOGUE WITH OTHER ARTISTS, FILMMAKERS, OTHER PEOPLE, SEEMS SO ESSENTIAL TO ALL OF YOUR WORK.

Well, when I made Which Way Is East (1994), I didn’t at first understand that it really is about how we look at history, and how we analyze or reconstruct the past. That film is made from the perspective of myself and my sister. We were children who experienced the Vietnam War through television, mostly black-and-white images on a box in the living room. Being typical American, middle-class kids, our parents and their friends had not gone to war. The war was really far away… But you then grow up and you realize that it does touch you; you heard all the numbers of people who died, and you recognize that those statistics were always emphasizing the Americans, but what about the Vietnamese? How does war have an impact?

When we made the film, in the early ’90s, my sister, Dana Sachs, was living in Vietnam. I visited for one month, and, like a typical documentary filmmaker, you arrive in a place and you say, “I’m going to make a film.“ It came to me later that the film is a dialogue with history, but it’s also a dialogue between two women from the same family, who thought about that past in extremely different ways. She looked at Vietnam in this contemporary way, as survivors. Whereas I looked at Vietnam with this wrought guilt, trying to piece together an understanding of a war that still seemed to bleed. That’s what gave the film its tension, that our perceptions were so different. Ultimately the most interesting films are the ones that ask us to think about perception, that don’t just introduce new material.

So that was a gift, to be in dialogue with my sister… Another way of looking at dialogue, [if] you’re in dialogue with [someone like] Jean Vigo, who’s not alive… then you’re creating a dialectic between the materials. In A Month of Single Frames, I’m in dialogue with Barbara Hammer literally, but I’m also in dialogue with her through the form of the film, and with the audience. That was intentional, to have this ambiguity.

In A Month of Single Frames, she also does something that’s not about activism, it’s about solitude… thinking about her place in nature. It’s all about being delicately and boldly in the landscape. When she cuts up little pieces of gel and puts them on blades of grass, she’s doing the opposite of what a feature film made in Cape Cod would… You’d have all these people stomping on the dunes, getting permission to shoot, to take over a whole house, you’d need light, electricity… She wanted to do everything with the least impact. It’s not a film that she probably announced as a celebration of the environment. But to me, it is so much about not leaving your footprint on the land, but being there. I really admire that work.

DID YOU BEGIN THE FILM BEFORE SHE DIED?

The last year of Barbara Hammer’s life, she gave footage to filmmakers and said, “Do whatever you want, and in the process use this material that I love but could not finish. Because I can see that my life will not last long enough to do so.“

She gave me footage from 1998, which she had shot in a residency on Cape Cod. I asked her why she didn’t finish this film and she said, “Because it’s too pretty, and because it’s not engaged, it’s not political.“ She felt that the fact that it delivered so much pleasure just in its loveliness made it problematic. It was this gorgeous landscape, and a woman alone in a cabin. She thought there wasn’t a rigor to it. So she had never done anything with it; it just moved around with her, and it was bothering her, of course: “Finish me. Finish me.“

She gave it to me, and I started to edit. On the second visit, I showed it to her, just without any sound. I asked if she did any writing while she was there, and she said, “I kept a journal.“ She’d forgotten all about it, so she pulled it out.

THAT’S THE DIALOGUE WE HEAR IN THE FILM?

She even writes about herself in the third person, which is fun, and different…

Everything was so pressured: she had to go to chemotherapy, she was trying to finish Evidentiary Bodies, a film that she was going to show at the Berlin Film Festival in 2019. It was one of the last things she did. So I had the material, and when she died… I needed to finish it. That’s when I wrote the text, because I needed to be in dialogue with her more than just editing the material. I needed to concentrate on that energy between us.

SO YOU COMPLETED A FILM YOU HAD BEGUN WORKING ON WHILE SHE WAS LIVING, AND THAT SHE DIED DURING THE MAKING OF. AND THEN YOU MADE A FILM IN DIALOGUE WITH SOMEONE WHO HAD ALREADY DIED, IN E•PIS•TO•LAR•Y: LETTER TO JEAN VIGO.

I’ll give you a little background. I’ve been on and off involved with the Punto de Vista Film Festival, which is a really interesting small festival in Pamplona, Spain, where they acknowledge and appreciate alternative ways of looking at documentary film practice. They asked 10 filmmakers to make a film in the form of a letter to a filmmaker who had influenced us.

I chose Jean Vigo; I love his film, Zero for Conduct (1933), because it is so much about rule breaking. It is so much about trying to exist in society, but knowing when there is a time to break the law. I had made my film Investigation of a Flame; I was interested in those moments where you have to turn inward and say, “This is wrong.“ And I wanted, again, to talk to a ghost. To talk to Jean Vigo.

Then, right at the beginning of this year, there was the attack on the US Capitol. A group of thousands chose to break the law, with absolute abandon in terms of the sacredness of other people’s bodies. I’m not even saying the US Capitol is sacred. But to go to a place of heinous destruction, that really disturbed me. I was already thinking about Jean Vigo, and I thought, “This is really complicated.” Because at what point do we learn to understand how to respect, how to have compassion, how to have empathy? That you can break rules, as in paint graffiti or burn draft files, but that once you start invading another person’s body— it’s a violation I couldn’t accept. And this space between anarchy and authoritarianism, and between compassionate rule breaking and violence was very interesting to me.

WHAT ABOUT REVOLUTION? WHAT ABOUT A FEMINIST SOCIALIST REVOLUTION?

Oh. Well I have to say, a feminist socialist revolution probably would come with a lot of compassion. I think, I hope. But I would never say that women… I don’t think that there’s anything innate.

One other thing about E•pis•to•lar•y: I really like all the syllables in epistolary, so I like that it sounds like bullets. And yet it’s about dialogue… It may be silent, but audiences are writing back in their heads. I think a lot about that in my filmmaking, all the sounds that go on in audiences’ minds.

ARE THE SUBJECTS OF INVESTIGATION OF A FLAME (2001)THE CATONSVILLE NINEYOUR MODELS THEN OF RIGHTEOUS DISSIDENTS?

My interest in people who break the rules goes way back. I mean, I was protesting the implementation of imposing draft registration on American men when I was in high school. I’ve always been committed to trying to articulate a critique. But when I heard about the Catonsville Nine and this group of people who had nothing to gain by criticizing the US government’s presence in Vietnam, except that they were so upset that they felt they had to speak out against it…

They were Catholic antiwar activists: two priests in particular, Daniel and Philip Berrigan, and a nurse, and a sister, and others. But they broke the law in the most performative way. To take draft papers and burn them [with] napalm…. Napalm is not that different from lint. It’s just soap mixed with chemicals. You can make napalm at home. It’s domestically produced napalm, which was being used in Vietnam. But [the Catonsville Nine] wanted to make it and burn it symbolically. This, to me, was the ultimate art performance piece. Let’s burn files, photograph it, disseminate it, and say that these files represent bodies.

People said that they changed so much thinking. It was effective because it was an image that… You were asking about activism, that’s an image! To see priests burning draft files, that’s going to change things. That’s real activism on their part, and that happened in the 1960s.

FROM LINT TO NAPALM. THANK YOU, LYNNE.

I never thought… But it’s made with soap!

Inney Prakash is a writer and film curator based in New York City and the founder/director of Prismatic Ground.

“Film About A Father Who” Featured on Best of 2021 – Roger Ebert Editor’s Selects

The Individual Top Tens of 2021
The Editors 
December 15, 2021
https://www.rogerebert.com/features/the-individual-top-tens-of-2021

Yesterday, we released the RogerEbert.com consensus Top Ten Films of 2021, led by Jane Campion‘s “The Power of the Dog.” Today, we dig deeper, presenting you with all submitted lists from our brilliant critics and independent contributors. There are over 200 films cited below as among the best of 2021, displaying both the diversity in quality at the cinema this year and the unique voices that cover it for our site. It’s a huge collection of lists but it should give you an overall picture of the year in film, complete with dozens of links back to our reviews. Enjoy.


MATT ZOLLER SEITZ
1. “The Velvet Underground
2. “Summer of Soul”
3. “Procession”
4. “Drive My Car”
5. “The French Dispatch
6. “The Power of the Dog”
7. “Titane
8. “The Harder They Fall
9. “The Last Duel
10. “Holler
Runners-Up: “17 Blocks,” “Annette,” “Azor,” “A Cop Movie,” “A Film About a Father Who,” “Godzilla vs Kong,” “The Humans,” “Mass,” “M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity,” “The Night,” “Pig,” “Riders of Justice,” “Wild Indian,” “Wrath of Man,” “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” and “Zola

SIMON ABRAMS
1. “Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream”
2. “State Funeral
3. “Wojnarowciz: F*ck You F*ggot F**ker”
4. “The Disciple
5. “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection”
6. “Days
7. “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
8. “The French Dispatch”
9. “Film About a Father Who”
10. “A Shape of Things to Come”

Some honorable mentions (more here): “Ailey“; “Azor”; “Devil Between the Legs”; “Eyimofe (This is My Desire)”; “The Fever“; “The Hand of God“; “In Balanchine’s Classroom”; “Karen Dalton: In My Own Time”; “Labyrinth of Cinema“; “Some Kind of Heaven“.

Lynne Sachs Series at Metrograph (NYC) – Decemeber 10 – 12th

December 10 to December 12, 2021
https://nyc.metrograph.com/series/series/291/lynne-sachs

Since bursting onto the filmmaking scene in the 1980s, Memphis-born Lynne Sachs has compiled an inimitable, astonishing body of work which includes essay films, diaristic shorts, gallery installations, and quite a number of simply uncategorizable hybrids. Sachs’s wide-ranging, restless ingenuity is on full display in this program, which includes her 2020 documentary portrait A Film About a Father WhoThe Washing Society, her collaboration with playwright Lizzie Olesker, which premiered in 2015 at a Clinton Hill laundromat; and this year’s E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo, a ruminative, surprising response to the January 6th Capitol Hill riots. A blast of engaging, and engaged, cinema.

Sachs will be present for all three programs.


A FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO
https://nyc.metrograph.com/film/film/2769/a-film-about-a-father-who
Friday, December 10th @ 7:15 PM
2020 / 74min / DCP
DIRECTOR: LYNNE SACHS

Made up of footage shot by Sachs between 1984 and very nearly the present day, Film About a Father Who represents her endeavor to better understand the outsized personality and myriad affairs of one Ira Sachs, Sr.: Park City, Utah, hospitality industry mogul; bon vivant hippie businessman; serial womanizer; and the filmmaker’s father. Analog and digital video shares space with 8 and 16mm film in Sachs’ decoupage of home movie formats, creating a tenderly critical mosaic portrait that’s as energetic, multifaceted, and messy as its subject.


WASHING SOCIETY + CLOTHESLINES +A MONTH OF SINGLE
https://nyc.metrograph.com/film/film/2782/washing-society-clothesline
Saturday, December 11th @ 3:45 PM
2018 and 1981 / 90min / DCP
DIRECTOR: LYNNE SACHS, LIZZIE OLESKER, AND ROBERTA CANTOW

Sachs’s The Washing Society, co-directed with playwright Lizzie Olesker, uses a combination of interviews, re-enactments, and patient observation to pay lyric homage to the little-acknowledged but essential labor of dealing with dirty laundry, as it occurs every day in New York City’s laundromats. Screening with Roberta Cantow’s feminist forebear Clotheslines, a film that takes laundry seriously as a form of folk art, a fraught social signifier, and a lens for women to reflect on the joys, pains, and ambivalences of household chores. With Sachs’s short “A Month of Single Frames” made with and for Barbara Hammer.

Co-Directors Lynne Sachs and Lizzie Olesker will be present with special guest feminist scholar Silvia Federici for a post-screening conversation. Hosted by Emily Apter.


Post-Screening Conversation for
WASHING SOCIETY + CLOTHESLINES +A MONTH OF SINGLE

Co-Directors Lynne Sachs and Lizzie Olesker with special guest feminist scholar Silvia Federici in a post-screening conversation. Hosted by Emily Apter.


LYNNE SACHS SHORTS
https://nyc.metrograph.com/film/film/2773/lynne-sachs-shorts
Sunday, December 12th @ 4:30 PM
1994, 2017, 2021, 2001 / 100min / DCP
DIRECTOR: LYNNE SACHS

Four shorts exemplifying the breadth and tireless curiosity of Sachs’s film practice, as well as an ongoing engagement with issues of justice and resistance. The Ho Chi Minh City–Hanoi travel diary Which Way is East: Notebooks from Vietnam offers an encounter between lived experience and mediated memory of a televised war. And Then We Marched juxtaposes 8mm footage of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington D.C. with archival images of earlier struggles for justice. E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo looks at the January 6th Capitol Hill uprising through the unlikely but revealing prism of Vigo’s 1933 Zéro de conduite. Investigation of a Flame revisits the story of the Catonsville Nine, Catholic activists who burnt draft files in protest of the Vietnam War.

Director Lynne Sachs will be present.