Tag Archives: film about a father who

“Film About a Father Who” Streaming with the 17th Vail Film Festival and Q&A

Q&A with “Film About About a Father Who” director Lynne Sachs, Stephen Vitiello (music), and Rebecca Shapass (editor)

Screening of Film About a Father Who and Q&A with Lynne Sachs
Available May 16, 8:00 AM – May 17, 4:00 AM, 2020] Watch now in our online Virtual Festival

https://watch.eventive.org/vailfilmfestival/play/5ea61530e5745b0029223a20

Film About a Father Who (USA, 74minutes)

Director: Lynne Sachs

From 1984 to 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot film, videotape and digital images with her father, Ira Sachs, a bohemian businessman from Park City. This film is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to eight siblings, some of whom she has known all of her life, others she only recently discovered. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, her film offers sometimes contradictory views of one seemingly unknowable man who is always there, public, in the center of the frame, yet somehow ensconced in secrets.

“This divine masterwork of vulnerability weaves past and present together with ease, daring the audience to choose love over hate, forgiveness over resentment. Sachs lovingly untangles the messy hair of her elusive father, just as she separates and tends to each strand of his life. A remarkable character study made by a filmmaker at the top of her game– an absolute must see in Park City.”

—Michael Gallagher, Programmer
https://watch.eventive.org/vailfilmfestival/play/5ea61530e5745b0029223a20

We Are Moving Stories – An Interview with Lynne Sachs on “Film About a Father Who”

May 2020
We Are Moving Stories
Sarasota Film Festival 2020 – Film About a Father Who

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Between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot a film with her father, a bohemian businessman who sometimes chose to reveal less than was really there.

Interview with Director Lynne Sachs

Congratulations! Why did you make your film?

Since I began making films, I’ve been collecting material for a film about my father. It took me three decades to complete this film. Life goes on, and each day brings surprises, joys and disappointments. In 2020, I premiered Film About a Father Who at Slamdance and then at Documentary Fortnight at the Museum of Modern Art. This is the third film in my trilogy (including States of UnBelonging, 2005, and The Last Happy Day, 2009) of essay films that explore the degree by which one human being can know another. This film is a partial portrait of my father Ira Sachs, a bohemian businessman living in the mountains of Utah. My father has always chosen the alternative path in life, a path that has brought unpredictable adventures, nine children with six different women, brief marijuana-related brushes with the police and a life-long interest in doing some good in the world. It is also a film about the complex dynamics that conspire to create a family. There is nothing nuclear about all of us, we are a solar system comprised of nine planets revolving around a single sun, a sun that nourishes, a sun that burns, a sun that each of us knows is good and bad for us. We accept and celebrate, somehow, the consequences.

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?

Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, I shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital images of my father. Film About a Father Who is my 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, this exploration of my 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. In the process, I allow myself and my audience inside to see beyond the surface of the skin, the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, I, as a daughter, discover more about my father than I had ever hoped to reveal. Over the last few months since the film’s Slamdance Premiere, I have had some of the deepest most intense interactions of my career as a filmmaker with people in my audiences. These conversations have allowed me to see the ways in which this film stirs viewers into thinking about the imprint their own fathers and mothers have had on who they are in the world today.

Lynne Sachs with Ira Sachs Sr
Lynne Sachs with Ira Sachs Sr

How do personal and universal themes work in your film?

Weighing the importance of the personal in relationship to the universal was an absolutely critical aspect of the editing process for this film. I had to search for a universality from my particular experience while weeding through 35 years of film, video and digital material. This was a critical journey to finding a way to tell this story. When I finally brought artist and editor Rebecca Shapass into my process, I found a way to convey the story of my family to a new person who knew nothing about us, had no expectations, prejudices or affinities. Through her sensitive, compassionate listening ear, I was able to carve out the kind of distance that allowed me to see that this was not really a character-driven portrait of one man but rather an investigation into the way that “family” is really just a term describing the intricate, sometimes heart-breaking series of relationships that hold a group of people together in a cosmos.

How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?

In 2017, I gathered all nine of my siblings together for the first time. We shot for four hours, and the experience was, for the most part, cathartic. But, as I looked through the footage I noticed that everyone was extremely aware of how I, in particular, responded to their words. It took me a year to accept that this singular, more contrived, scene was significant in terms of who was there in the same room but did not take the film to the place I needed it to go. Throughout 2018, I either flew my siblings to Brooklyn or went to meet them where they live. In almost every case, I convinced my sisters and brothers to go into a completely darkened space with me. We often sat in closets. It was weird and very intimate. As I recorded their voices, resonating through my headphones, I knew I was listening to them in a deeper way than I had ever done before. There in the dark, they each accessed something new about our father that they had never articulated before.

One of the biggest and most intimidating aspects of making this film was finding a way to translate my own interior thoughts – be they loving, rage-filled, compassionate or simply contradictory – about our father into a convincing, not too self-conscious voiceover narration. From the very beginning, I knew that Film About a Father Who would be an essay film that would include my own writing. One of the reasons the film took so long to make was that every time I sat down to put a pen to paper, I became intimidated by the process. During an artist residency at Yaddo, I plopped myself on my bed with a bunch of pillows, and began to speak into a microphone. Over a period of 10 days, I recorded hours of material – oral histories, in a sense – that were generated by me as daughter, artist and director. To my surprise, I was actually able to apply the newly discovered “in the dark” approach to recording with my siblings to the way that I listened to my own thoughts and this more spontaneous vocalized writing became the framework for the whole movie.

Dir Lynne Sachs in Film About A Father Who
Dir Lynne Sachs in Film About A Father Who

What type of feedback have you received so far?

This film has probably generated some of the most interesting, deeply felt responses I have ever received for my work. Here are a few, I would like to share:

“The film is bookended with footage of Lynne Sachs attempting to cut her aging father’s sandy hair, which — complemented by his signature walrus mustache — is as long and hippie-ish as it was during the man’s still locally infamous party-hearty heyday, when Ira Sachs Sr. restored, renovated and lived in the historic Adams Avenue property that is now home to the Mollie Fontaine Lounge. ‘There’s just one part that’s very tangly,’ Lynne comments, as the simple grooming activity becomes a metaphor for the daughter’s attempt to negotiate the thicket of her father’s romantic entanglements, the branches of her extended family tree and the thorny concepts of personal and social responsibility.” – John Beiffus, Memphis Commercial Appeal

A Film About a Father Who is also remarkable for its terrific synthesizing of the wealth of archival material. Given the breadth of the narrative span, it’s extraordinary that the director fits the story into a compact length of just 73 minutes, yet, masterfully, she does. Given her extremely personal connection to the story, it’s astonishing how deeply she investigates the good and the bad in a person she clearly loves. This gripping documentary, the opener of the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival, speaks its truth and speaks it beautifully. Let it be heard.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

Film About a Father Who is simply a masterpiece. Ultimately, a parent’s legacy is found in their children and the worth of Ira Sachs Sr. is found in his “tribe” of talented, artistic offsprings.” – Nina Rothe, E. Nina Rothe.com

“In this compelling and genuine documentary, [Sachs] has…taken the audience on a hypnotic and profound journey.” – Alexandra Hidalgo, Agnès Films

“Lynne’s newest, Film About a Father Who, brings that unflinching honesty to a new level. Because this is a personal story told by the children forced to come to terms with his behavior, preserving that ambiguity also, as Lynne herself puts it, preserves the truth. Both Lynne and we are perhaps no closer to understanding Ira Sr. by film’s end, but we at least know him as his children do and all things considered, that’s nothing short of miraculous.” – Mariso Carpico, The Pop Break

Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?

Even during the film’s years-long protracted post-production, I was always scared and somehow motivated by my awareness that there would be extremely strong reactions to my film. My portrait of my father is one that includes my own rage and forgiveness, and finding the balance between the two was integral to expressing my own experience through the film’s images and voice-over narration. There have been a surprisingly large number of people who have written about the film or written to me directly about the film who have had similarly complex and fraught relationships with their own parents. It seems that watching “Film About a Father Who” gave them some new insight and perspective. There have also been other people who felt that I, as a woman, gave my dad too much of a break, that I was too kind to him when he only considered his own needs and desires rather than those of others around him. This point of view is reflective of the sentiments that have grown out of the women’s movement and more recently the Me-Too Movement. I feel such allegiance to these emotions, and yet when it came down to expressing my own experience, I had to allow for the nuances of a daughter’s own evolving love for her father.

What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?

I would love for the visibility that We Are Moving Stories provides to lead to new conversations, surprising insights, future screenings and maybe a distributor!

Ira Sachs with painting
Ira Sachs with painting

Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?

The film has quite a few upcoming festival screenings including Sarasota Film Festival, Indie Memphis, Sheffield Doc Festival in the UK, Montreal Documentary Festival, and Oxford Film Festival, but the pandemic has, of course, slowed everything down. I could definitely use some support from sales agents, buyers, programmers or distributor. Let’s talk!

What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?

While I have been making films for more than thirty years, each film I have made has led to a new relationship with a certain community. My film Your Day is My Night led me to the Asian and Asian-American community in the US, Canada and China and to a far deeper relationship with people living in Chinatown right here in NYC. My film Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor has led to amazing conversations around feminism, cinema and the avant-garde. We make films to lead us to new places, physically, artistically and emotionally. With Film About a Father Who I hope to go deep in conversation around family, rage, and forgiveness.

What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?

In light of the current Me Too debate around men in power and their influence on the lives of the women around them, how can we find a context by which we can discuss the place of rage, dignity, and forgiveness?

Would you like to add anything else?

Thank you for inviting me to be part of your cinema community.

What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?

Lynne Sachs is currently working on Oh Ida: The Fluid Time Travels of a Radical Spirit, an essay film that will trace the erasure and recent emergence (in the form of monuments) of the story of activist and 2020 Pultizer Prize winning journalist Ida B. Wells who spent her early years in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee and committed her life to nurturing a spirit of liberation in the face of resounding oppression. In collaboration with historian and author Tera Hunter, I will produce a film using a hybrid form of cinematic time-travel that will examine Wells’s historical trajectory within the current controversies around American monuments by looking at their symbolic power, their historiographic influence on our collective consciousness, what they have been and what they could become.

Film About a Father Who poster
Film About a Father Who poster

We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women’s films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film – we’d love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker – can you recommend us?  More info: Carmela


Film About a Father Who

Between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot a film with her father, a bohemian businessman who sometimes chose to reveal less than was really there.

Director: Lynne Sachs

Producer: Lynne Sachs

Writer: Lynne Sachs

About the writer, director and producer:

LYNNE SACHS makes films and writes poems that explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. Her work embraces hybrid forms, combining memoir, experimental and documentary modes. Recently, she has expanded her practice to include live performances.

Key cast: Ira Sachs Sr.

Looking for: sales agents, distributors, journalists, film festival directors, buyers

Facebook: Film About a Father Who

Twitter: @aboutafatherwho

Instagram: @lynnesachs1

Hashtags used: #filmaboutafatherwho

Website: www.lynnesachs.com/2019/12/19/filmaboutafatherwho/

Funders: Partially supported by an artist residency at Yaddo.

Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? The film is not streaming again in the coming month but it will be presented at Indie Memphis, Oxford Film Festival, Montreal International Documentary Festival, and Sheffield International Festival of Documentary Film.

http://www.wearemovingstories.com/we-are-moving-stories-films/2019/1/17/film-about-a-father-who

Film About a Father Who Streaming at Sarasota Film Festival and Q&A

“In Lynne Sachs’ FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO she tries to piece together who her father really is…and makes some unexpected discoveries. An intriguing puzzle – so don’t let anyone who sees it reveal its secrets.”

Steve Kopian, Unseen Films

Watch Film About a Father Who here through May 10th!

There will also be a Q & A with the director online soon.

“Taking visual cues from modern art, and a title borrowed from Yvonne Rainer’s 1974 drama “Film About a Woman Who…,” Lynne Sachs compiles a film that’s as colorful, as complex, and sometimes as inscrutable as her father. She may not have unlocked the secret of her father’s heart, but the attempt reveals touching, humorous and painful insights about what we think a father is and what he should be.”

-Sean P. Means, Movie Cricket

In response to popular demand from the Sarasota community and audiences across the country and around the globe for continued arts and storytelling, the 2020 virtual edition of the Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) has now extended its online edition to Sunday, May 10th. In conjunction with this extension, the festival has announced an additional feature film to the lineup 9/11 KIDS directed by Elizabeth St. Philip, Q&As for the upcoming weekend, and more visionary programming.

“The public has spoken and in an effort to continue providing dynamic and thoughtful entertainment, we are pleased to extend our programming for an additional week so that audiences can continue to enjoy these engaging films and celebrate independent storytellers that showcase the local Florida community,” said Mark Famiglio, Chairman and President of the Sarasota Film Festival.

SFF is presented with the generous support of various sponsors and partners from the Sarasota community including: The Famiglio Family, Amicus Foundation, 332 Cocoanut, Moon & Co Eyewear, Sage Restaurant, The Sack Family, Wallack Family Fund, Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office, New College, Ringling College, Gates Construction, DSDG architects, BMW/Lamborghini of Sarasota, Embassy Suites-Hilton as well as granting organization Sarasota County Tourist Development Cultural/Arts and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

EXTENDED DATE | SFF will now run through Sunday, May 10th, 2020.

Film Forward: Film About a Father Who| Slamdance 2020

Film Forward
Film About a Father Who, Queen of the Capital | Slamdance 2020
by Phil Guie 
February 27, 2020

http://film-forward.com/film-festival/film-about-a-father-who-queen-of-the-capital-slamdance-2020

Our 2020 Slamdance Film Festival coverage includes a pair of documentaries featuring very different types of protagonists, settings, and filmic styles, but they share something integral in common: both are portraits of unconventional families. Post-Slamdance, these two films will be making their way across the festival circuit (one, Film About a Father Who, recently had its New York City premiere at the Museum of Modern Art’s Doc Fortnight earlier this month), and both are worth your time.

(Feel free to also check out our feature on a trio of Slamdance documentaries reflecting on the challenges facing the county here.)

Daring and intimate, Film About a Father Who probes the life and times of the filmmaker’s father, erstwhile hotelier, and playboy Ira Sachs Sr. Director Lynne Sachs assembles a collage using more than three decades worth of home videos, which often result in a raw and ragged look. Yet there is also an undeniable sense of immediacy from having the principals involved in her father’s series of broken marriages and illicit affairs speaking directly to the camera; some have vivid enough personas that they seem bigger than life.

Sachs presents multiple perspectives by liberally jumping backwards and forwards in time, capturing Ira at different ages and points in his life. In doing so, the film doesn’t draw attention to how he changes so much as what stays the same: how he seems cut off from his own emotions, never running too hot or cool. The theme of numerous observations also applies to the interviews of past wives, lovers, children both legitimate and illegitimate, and, perhaps most unforgettably, Ira’s mother, each of whom contribute a different facet to what is ultimately a complex portrait of a serial philanderer who simultaneously had multiple families.

At the same time Ira is being deconstructed, the film builds toward an epiphany about the nature of family via a parallel narrative involving Sachs and her two siblings from Ira’s first marriage. They recount how they first learned about their father’s affairs, how they subsequently navigated his existence as the Hugh Hefner of Park City, Utah, and how alienating it was for the Sachs children as he cycled through women.

The director’s attitude toward her father—who in the present day has become elderly and senile and, as such, even more enigmatic than he had been in earlier years—never approaches hostile, but she reserves most of her genuine warmth for her brothers, sisters, and half-siblings. Some are considerably younger than her and were kept secret from her. As the camera frames them side-by-side with Sachs, it lingers on their faces as if to marvel at the physical traits they all share.

Eventually, all of Ira’s progeny come together to ponder weighty themes—whether or not they share a parent is enough to make them family. But the documentary seems to argue that due to the complexity of familial bonds, only those caught inside should get to define them. That’s a universal message that will resonate with most viewers, who will likely find Sachs’s objective considerably more admirable than her main subject.

http://film-forward.com/film-festival/film-about-a-father-who-queen-of-the-capital-slamdance-2020

Film Forward: Film About a Father Who, Queen of the Capital – Slamdance 2020

fflogo

 

 

 

02/27/2020

Film Forward

Film About a Father Who, Queen of the Capital – Slamdance 2020

By Phil Guie

http://film-forward.com/film-festival/film-about-a-father-who-queen-of-the-capital-slamdance-2020

(Feel free to also check out our feature on a trio of Slamdance documentaries reflecting on the challenges facing the county here.)

Daring and intimate, Film About a Father Who probes the life and times of the filmmaker’s father, erstwhile hotelier, and playboy Ira Sachs Sr. Director Lynne Sachs assembles a collage using more than three decades worth of home videos, which often result in a raw and ragged look. Yet there is also an undeniable sense of immediacy from having the principals involved in her father’s series of broken marriages and illicit affairs speaking directly to the camera; some have vivid enough personas that they seem bigger than life.

Sachs presents multiple perspectives by liberally jumping backwards and forwards in time, capturing Ira at different ages and points in his life. In doing so, the film doesn’t draw attention to how he changes so much as what stays the same: how he seems cut off from his own emotions, never running too hot or cool. The theme of numerous observations also applies to the interviews of past wives, lovers, children both legitimate and illegitimate, and, perhaps most unforgettably, Ira’s mother, each of whom contribute a different facet to what is ultimately a complex portrait of a serial philanderer who simultaneously had multiple families.

At the same time Ira is being deconstructed, the film builds toward an epiphany about the nature of family via a parallel narrative involving Sachs and her two siblings from Ira’s first marriage. They recount how they first learned about their father’s affairs, how they subsequently navigated his existence as the Hugh Hefner of Park City, Utah, and how alienating it was for the Sachs children as he cycled through women.

The director’s attitude toward her father—who in the present day has become elderly and senile and, as such, even more enigmatic than he had been in earlier years—never approaches hostile, but she reserves most of her genuine warmth for her brothers, sisters, and half-siblings. Some are considerably younger than her and were kept secret from her. As the camera frames them side-by-side with Sachs, it lingers on their faces as if to marvel at the physical traits they all share.

Eventually, all of Ira’s progeny come together to ponder weighty themes—whether or not they share a parent is enough to make them family. But the documentary seems to argue that due to the complexity of familial bonds, only those caught inside should get to define them. That’s a universal message that will resonate with most viewers, who will likely find Sachs’s objective considerably more admirable than her main subject.

The mostly upbeat Queen of the Capital centers on Daniel Hays, a Washington, DC–based drag artist who performs exclusively to raise money for charity. Hays is also a member of his city’s chapter of the Imperial Court, a nonprofit consisting of and run by his fellow drag queens and kings. Director Joshua Davidsburg follows Hays as he embarks on a campaign to be elected as the organization’s next leader, although given what friendly terms all of the members seem to be on with each other, the end result is quite possibly the least suspenseful documentary about an election ever made.

The film does, however, boast considerable insight into life of a modern-day drag artist in our nation’s capital, including the way in which “drag families” here grow and develop, which is often through established performers taking younger ones under their wings. Hays’ drag father, Jon Shelby, though only a year older than Hays, comes across world-weary enough that their father-child relationship is completely believable. The more we learn about Shelby, especially some of the darker incidents of his life, the more touching are his scenes with Hays, who had his own share of troubles during his youth.

Through a combination of archived footage as well as interviews, Queen of the Capital also provides a rousing history lesson about drag’s place in the city, including such colorful episodes as the bitter war between rival clubs from which the Imperial Court emerged. But we also get an idea of how the day-to-day lives of drag performers—and LGBTQ men and women in general—have improved significantly from decades past, with Hays and others having jobs in the federal government in which they can openly discuss what they do outside of the office. The extent to which they have become comfortably integrated into the fabric of Washington, DC, is apparent in the footage of the Imperial Court’s charitable events, in which people of all stripes engage with them warmly.

Though the film’s election season story line isn’t a nail-biter, Davidsburg seems to be eyeing something that’s more inspiring than politics, and he largely captures it.

http://film-forward.com/film-festival/film-about-a-father-who-queen-of-the-capital-slamdance-2020

48 Hills: “What We Saw at Sundance Pt. 2: A Sidetrip to Slamandce”

48hills-XLCorrected

 

 

02/23/2020

48 Hills 

What we saw at Sundance, Part 2: A side-trip to Slamdance

 By Jesse Hawthorne Ficks

Culling through the forty features viewed at both the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals last week has been as much fun as watching them in the first place. Here is a spoiler-free account of some the fest’s best to bookmark in your calendar for the upcoming year. Read part one here

Allotting some of my precious “Sundance movie going time” to make the hop-skip-and-a-jump up Main Street to attend rivaling venue Slamdance, has been immensely important since its inception in 1995. Slamdance’s commitment to “emerging artists and low-budget independent cinema” was born out of the inevitable missteps made by the ever-growing Sundance Institute. Every year I am rewarded with a truly remarkable debut that Sundance passed on, such as Christopher Nolan’s Following (1998), Bong Joon-ho’s Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), Jared Hess’s Peluca (2003), the nine-minute short film that inspired Napoleon Dynamite, and Ben Zeitlin’s Egg (2004)—a thesis project which led to creation of Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)—Marilyn Agrelo’s crowd-cheering Mad Hot Ballroom (2005), and Oren Peli’s low budget phenomenon Paranormal Activity (2008).

To my absolute astonishment, I can easily say that this year’s 2020 festival delivered the most moving amount of films of any previous year. Returning again and again to program after program, I found the rough edges, bold moments, and surprising personalities that I often find lacking from many of Sundance’s US Premiere and US Dramatic categories. (Thankfully Sundance re-invented their “Spectrum” category in the late 2000s and conceived the “NEXT” program, which provides a showcase for what the festival calls “pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to story-telling.” Or in other words, the Slamdance Film Festival.

 

Film About a Father Who (USA)
Experimental filmmaking legend Lynne Sachs kicked off Slamdance on opening night with an emotionally striking feature exploring the complexities of her narcissistically charming father. Using 8mm, 16mm, videotape, and digital footage, and shot over 35 years (from 1984 to 2019), her perennial process of documenting “bon vivant and pioneering Utah businessman” Ira Sachs Sr. will undoubtedly hit quite a nerve with anyone who’s grown up with an egotistically captivating fountainhead for a father. But Sachs isn’t just airing her family’s dirty laundry here—including interviews with Lynne’s younger brother, iconic indie filmmaker Ira Sachs: see The Delta (1997), Forty Shades of Blue (2005), Keep the Lights On (2012), and Love Is Strange(2014). This unique and epic familial expedition masterfully employs an experimental inventiveness that swims through a myriad harrowing home movies captured within more than a few fascinating formats, and diverse decades. Sachs, referencing the title of Yvonne Rainer’s landmark feminist feature Film About a Woman Who (1974), practices what Rainer was preaching—and in turn has constructed one of the most powerfully pertinent documentaries of recent years.

Israel’s Ynet Looks Lynne Sachs’ “Film About a Father Who”

Ynet
“Coming Back to Father’s House”
by Amir Bogen
English translation by Nir Zats
February 14, 2020
https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5677686,00.html

For more than 30 years the Jewish filmmaker Lynne Sachs followed her father with her camera. Her father is Ira Sachs Senior, the lauded, and hedonistic Real Estate entrepreneur. From this intimate footage grew her last film, which combines memories, discoveries of siblings and a self examination of her family and herself. In an interview before her NY premier, she shares her personal doubts and her timid feelings regarding the film’s revealing quality. In this interview, she also discusses the documentary she made in Israel about Revital Ohaion who was murdered in a terror attack in 2002.

For more than three decades filmmaker Lynne Sachs have been making experimental documentaries. Her films that deal with political conflicts, social and personal matters took her to various places in the US, Bosnia, Vietnam, and Israel. However, throughout that period, 59- year-old  Ms. Sachs kept working on a film that was most close to her heart: an intimate documentary that deals with the story of her father Ira Sachs Sr.

After the premier of “Film About a Father Who” at Slamdance in Park City, Utah, which occurs concurrently with the famous Sundance film fest, the film travels to Sachs home, New York City, where it will screen on Friday at the Museum of Modern Art. “As I stand shortly before the film’s first NY screening, among my community, I still think ‘have I made a mistake?’. Said Sachs in an interview before the film’s NY premier.

In her new film, Sachs provide the audience with an almost unmediated point of view into her family cell. A nuclear cell that sprawled with her father’s sexual adventures. In an attempt to capture the character of Sachs Sr. who had a reputation of a unique entrepreneur with a hedonistic lifestyle and of being a womanize. She digs into her memories, her mother’s, her father’s lovers, and that of her eight siblings from several women. She includes her brother Ira Sachs the well known film director (Love is Strange, Frankie), and her sister the writer Dana Sachs. The film that was constructed among others from a vast home video archive is a portrait of a man with lust for life. A man that inspired but also hurt many around him. Through her loving and compassionate look, Sachs weaves the perspectives of her close relatives, including some she discovers while making the film. She collects pieces of memories in an attempt to create the figure of her father. Ira Sr. is still alive, but being in old age his health deteriorates. He has difficulties to speak and difficulties to remember. 

Lynne Sachs

“I walked the path of this film most of my adult life. Eventually I had to either accept it or forget about it”. Sachs explains. “If you don’t write a diary, poetry, or other kind of documentation, you basically advocate intentional obliviousness. Most of us do it very well”. Those were the motives that kept her committed to this project for so many years. “Either you speak out or you repress. The easy way is to ignore.  I have two sisters whom I haven’t met till a few years ago. One of them was very involved in my father’s life. The film gives them a space to express their point of view. We all have step siblings. The nuclear family became a more rare thing nowadays with DNA support. My film is not about DNA, rather it takes place in a society where secrets are harder to keep”. 

The Family dynamic around your father is very complex, and it brings some strong, mixed emotions, from your family and from yourself.

“I have been working on this film about my father for 30 years. I didn’t know exactly what I’m doing. But I knew it had a strong presence in my life. It was the starting point to start deciphering our parental fingerprint. No matter how unstable or complicated they were, or if they were awful and you disengaged from it in adolescence, and if so does if it had a positive effect on your life.

The last few weeks after completing the film, I had come to the realization that the frame of contemplating other people’s lives opens a door inwards. I felt the need that this time my door will open within. In order to see how it feels to be watched. As I myself watched my family and myself. This is one of the special merits that cinema possesses. When you carry a camera in public everybody is looking back at you.

The film also shows the process of an active man getting old. It is not an easy experience.

Cinema has the possibility to allow us to process things unlike any other medium. My father is getting old along the film, but so do I, and so all the other characters in the film. We are all getting old. Unfortunately, in our society it is common to hear “you don’t look your age’. It became an antonym to success. The truth is that we do get old. However, cinema launches you backwards and forwards into somebody else’s life, or your own, to parallel or different periods in life. Nowadays, my father is quite frail and has a hard time articulating his words. However, I didn’t want the film to be about that, rather I wanted the film to focus on the access and repulsion from the memory itself.

Still from Film About a Father Who (2020)

The biography of Ira Sachs Sr. Is full of twists and turns even from his childhood. He was born to an American parents from Jewish heritage, and grew up with his mother and stepfather. Both were converted to Christianity after WWII. As he got older, he promoted large scale developing projects for wealthy investors. He alway kept time for hiking and exclusive clubs. His first wife gave birth to his first three kids: Dana, Lynne and Ira. During his marriage and after his divorce, he conducted multiple relationships with different women with whom he brought more children. Not a role model father figure with American values. Not to mention Jewish ones. Nevertheless, Lynne says that Jewish identity was present from an early age, and she has made a few films exploring Jewish themes. Biography of Lilith (1997), The Last Happy Day (2009), and States of Unbelonging (2005) about Revital Ohaion who was murder in a terror attack.

States of Unbelonging was screened in 2006 at the Jerusalem Film Festival. The film is an attempt to decipher the character of Ohaion who was a film teacher. She was murdered with her two sons by a Palestinian terrorist in her house on kibbutz Metser. An article in the NY TImes ignites Sachs’s interest and sent her to explore the death of a woman in the other side of the globe, a process that Sachs describes as an obsession. She creates an abstract portraits of Ohaion with letters correspondence with her Israeli student Nir Zats. While Sachs is drawn deeper into the character of Ohaion, Zats was providing her with the sights and sounds of Israel. Among others she interview Ohaion’s family and ex-husband. Sachs is captivated not only with Ohioan herself but also with the landscape in which she has lived in. Eventually Sachs decided to visit Israel herself and deal with her complicated feelings.

Still from Film About a Father Who (2020)

“I was so obsessed with her” Sachs says. The subject matters that came in that film are still resonance with me. “I remember how I called Avi, her ex-husband over and over. At first it seemed he hesitated talking to me. Many things happened. I traced her younger brother here in NY. He is the one who gave me some of her home videos. He has never watched it. It was too traumatic for him. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. The only thing that disappointed me in all the erosion of working on this film was that I wasn’t related to the films she has made. It really bothered me for days. I have told myself that I must like her works. I tried to convince myself that it is all right since she was more of a teacher than a filmmaker, and I also teach film. Anyway not everything must fit. I was so immersed in seeing the world through her eyes.

Although Sachs inclines toward the personal. Her film inevitably was also part of the general political context. Different people expected her to take sides in the Palestinian Israeli conflict. “Following the making of the film I met a few Jewish American artists that were supporting BDS. I on the other hand was looking for a way to create a dialogue, and to meet with the peace support movement on both sides”. Sachs says that although she identified with Revital who was murder by a Palestinian, she was looking the complexity in the story. “When I started working on the film there was an expectation to protest the terror toward Israel. And there are different kinds of terror, military, organized and more. Eventually I was trying to avoid talking about the terror in itself”.

That must raise some questions with certain people.

When I submitted the film to the Jerusalem Film Fest, I had to coordinate the film hard copy delivery. I have called and talked to someone in the festival office. He said the jury would probably not like the film. When I was wondering why, he said that it is obviously very pro Zionists, and the jury are definitely not. When I wonder what made the film pro Zionist, he claims that the reason is that I focus on a woman that was killed in a terror attack. I said that I am searching for a more complex point of view. So he said: ok so they might like it after all. He himself was with a set of preliminary points of view about my work. When I reached the festival I was so excited. But then the second war in Lebanon has erupted. We were supposed to have a tour with the film in several places in Israel, but all was canceled. It was so disappointing.

https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5677686,00.html

The Pop Break: “Film About a Father Who Review: A Film as Ambiguous as Its Subject”

 

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02/14/2020

The Pop Break

‘Film About a Father Who’ Review: As Ambiguous as its Subject

By Marisa Carpico

Documentarian Lynne Sachs and her filmmaker brother, Ira Sachs Jr., have always made emotionally complex films. Whether its Lynne’s literal and historical exploration of Vietnam in Which Way Is East or Ira Jr.’s aching meditation on longtime love inLove is Strange, neither has been afraid to dig into ambiguity or tough subject matter. However, Lynne’s newest, Film About a Father Who, (which includes some footage shot by Ira) brings that unflinching honesty to a new level as it explores their complex relationship with their absent father Ira Sr. and the sprawling family his philandering has created.

Named for Yvonne Rainer’s Film About a Woman Who… which follows a woman’s sexual escapades and the resulting/motivating unhappiness in an abstract, montage-like way, Sachs’s film is similarly structured and culled from footage filmed on half a dozen different media from 1965 to 2019. Though Sachs tells her father’s story in roughly chronological order, she uses few of the documentary techniques we’re used to. Rather, what we see rarely synchs with what we hear and it can take a few minutes to grow accustomed to the film’s style.

However, while scenes where images of Lynne and her siblings at much younger ages play under recordings of them talking about their father in modern day may confuse some viewers, they’re also incredibly effective. Every scene examines not only their memories of their father, but how each child’s understanding of Ira Sr. changed over time. Watching an adolescent Adam (Ira Sr.’s son with his second wife, Diana) talk nervously if admiringly about his father contrasted with his more reserved assessment in present day is striking and the film delivers that level of brutal frankness again and again.

Indeed, though Sachs repeatedly expresses her adoration for her father, part of what makes her film so effective is how willing she is to criticize him too. Two scenes in particular stand out. The first shows Lynne interviewing Diana. Turned almost completely away from the camera and constantly on the verge of tears, we can hear just how much Ira Sr.’s cheating and lies hurt her, complicating and expanding the hurt Lynne and her sister Dana felt when they first met Diana on a trip to Bali they thought was just with their father.

The second comes much later, when one of Lynne’s half-siblings, Beth, hidden from the rest of the family for most of her life, explains that being around her siblings stings not just because she didn’t know them for so long, but because she resents the time and financial support Ira Sr. gave them. Listening to so many painful stories about Ira Sr.’s failings as a father, the audience naturally longs to hear him explain his actions, but that’s precisely the one thing Sachs never really manages to unpack.

Knowing that Lynne has been working on this film for 26 years, it’s easy to wonder why she doesn’t come to a more definitive conclusion about who her father is or what family means for her and her siblings. Some of that is, of course, Ira Sr.’s doing. One of the film’s most frustrating and memorable moments comes near the end, when Lynne tells Ira Sr. in voice over that because the newer audio will be better, she has to re-record some of what he’s said before. We expect the silence that follows to end with some revelation, whether about the trauma that made Ira Sr. so afraid of being emotionally frank or how he feels looking back on his behavior. Instead, the film goes on as it has before, allowing Lynne or the other siblings to speak about his effect on them. And while the choice emphasizes how much of a mystery Ira Sr. still remains, it can also leave the audience with a taste of the bitter dissatisfaction his children experience.

As viewers who only get to know Ira Sachs Sr. through the picture Lynne paints, it can be frustrating to hear him speak so little about why he lived the life he did or the emotional toll both his childhood and his sprawling progeny had on him. In a more straightforward documentary, not hearing his explanation would leave the film feeling incomplete. Yet because this is a personal story told by the children forced to come to terms with his behavior, preserving that ambiguity also, as Lynne herself puts it, preserves the truth. Both Lynne and we are perhaps no closer to understanding Ira Sr. by film’s end, but we at least know him as his children do and all things considered, that’s nothing short of miraculous.

https://thepopbreak.com/2020/02/14/film-about-a-father-who-review-as-ambiguous-as-its-subject/

 

Agnès Films: Supporting Women & Feminist Filmmakers – Review by Alexandra Hidalgo

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02/12/2020

Agnes Films

Review of Lynne Sachs’ Film About a Father Who

By Alexandra Hidalgo

When Lynne Sachs’s intimate and mesmerizing personal documentary Film About a Father Who opens, we see a closeup of fingers trying to untangle a knot in someone’s white hair. The camera reveals that the hair belongs to an older man whose eyes close in pain at the fingers’ attempt to unsnarl the mess. He cries out in discomfort, and a woman’s voice says, “Sorry, Dad. There’s just one part that’s very tangly.” We then cut to a wide shot of a room where books and photos crowd every inch of its floor-to-ceiling built-in shelves and we see Sachs, comb in hand, standing behind her father, Ira, who sits on a chair. While her father’s long hair might have one tangly part, his life, which the film unravels with loving complexity, is a Gordian knot of secrets and desire.

Shot between 1965 and 2019 by Sachs, her brother Ira Sachs Jr., and her father, the film weaves a visual tapestry of a family’s attempt to come to terms with its own identity as its enigmatic patriarch remains forever just out of reach. Blending 8mm and 16mm film, VHS, Hi8, MiniDV, and digital footage, About a Father is a visual marvel, a study of the longing for the past that older film and video technologies evoke in viewers. Instead of being displayed in a chronological procession, however, the film jumps from decade to decade and from 8mm to digital to VHS. Like our memories of those who have been by our side since childhood, About a Father blends decades and styles, arranged around emotional beats instead of the order in which events unfolded.

As we see handheld 16mm footage of her father as a young man lying happily in a field of dandelions, Sachs explains through narration, “Dad had his own language and we were expected to speak it. I loved him so much that I agreed to his syntax, his set of rules.” That syntax includes a gentle yet constant refusal to answer certain questions, in particular those that pertain to his relationships with the wives, mistresses, and girlfriends that populate his life to this day. Sachs, her brother Ira Jr., and her sister Dana, come from her father’s first marriage, but as the film unravels we encounter the various children that descend from his countless other romantic relationships.

Sachs and her two full siblings are left to discover these new brothers and sisters over the years and to figure out how to develop closeness with these increasingly younger people with whom they share so little and yet so much. Several of the film’s interviews feature characters in backlit closeup profiles to the side of the screen, so that only part of their face is visible. Like Sachs, we see only fractions of the characters we meet, trying to piece together a puzzle that by its very nature will always be incomplete. And yet, an incomplete image is better than no image at all when it comes to understanding our families and our places within the larger communities they represent.

The film is generous in its portrayal of Sachs’ father and achingly vulnerable in its attempt to make sense of the wake of affection and resentment he has left behind. Sachs takes a story that could have been overly dramatic and judgmental and instead constructs a nuanced meditation on what it feels like to love someone whose actions have hurt us and others. Toward the end of the film, she explains, “This is not a portrait. This is not a self-portrait. This is my reckoning with the conundrum of our asymmetry.” As she says this, the camera in 16mm follows her father, who seems to be walking in a circle and smiling at the lens, present but always out of reach. And yet, in this compelling and genuine documentary, she has captured his essence and taken the audience on a hypnotic and profound journey. Anyone who has ever found themselves confounded by unexpected revelations about those closest to us will find themselves in this film and walk away from it with a deeper understanding of their own lives, even if they don’t solve the conundrum of Ira Sachs’s asymmetry.

To learn more about Film About a Father Who, visit the film’s website and take a look at its IMDb. To learn more about Alexandra, visit her profile.

https://agnesfilms.com/reviews/review-of-lynne-sachs-film-about-a-father-who/?fbclid=IwAR0Q7f5zXkuSGJ6q3F7-FV0hc10Rsasex0Tt8qQguyoIK8TtSF0CjIgK4Y8