Tag Archives: Investigation of a Flame

Lynne Sachs’ Films on Ovid

Lynne Sachs’ Films on Ovid
https://www.ovid.tv/lynne-sachs

Films Available:
A Biography of Lillith
Investigation of a Flame
The Last Happy Day
Sermons and Sacred Pictures
Starfish Aorta Colossus
States of Unbelonging
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
Your Day is My Night
Tip of My Tongue
And Then We Marched
A Year of Notes and Numbers

About Lynne Sachs
Lynne Sachs makes films, installations, performances and web projects that explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together poetry, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with each and every new project. Between 1994 and 2009, her five essay films took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany — sites affected by international war – where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions.

Recently, after 25 years of making experimental documentaries, Lynne learned something that turned all her ideas about filmmaking upside down. While working on Your Day is My Night in the Chinatown neighborhood of New York City, she came to see that every time she asked a person to talk in front of her camera, they were performing for her rather than revealing something completely honest about their lives. The very process of recording guaranteed that some aspect of the project would be artificial. She decided she had to think of a way to change that, so she invited her subjects to work with her to make the film, to become her collaborators. For Lynne, this change in her process has moved her toward a new type of filmmaking, one that not only explores the experiences of her subjects, but also invites them to participate in the construction of a film about their lives.

Her films have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, Toronto’s Images Festival and Los Angeles’ REDCAT Theatre as well as a five-film retrospective at the Buenos Aires Film Festival. The San Francisco Cinematheque recently published a monograph with four original essays in conjunction with a full retrospective of Lynne’s work. In 2014, Lynne received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Film and Video.


About Ovid
With the help of an unprecedented collaborative effort by eight of the most noteworthy, independent film distribution companies in the U.S., Docuseek, LLC launched an innovative, new, subscription video-on-demand service, OVID.tv.

OVID.tv will provide North American viewers with access to thousands of documentaries, independent films, and notable works of international cinema, largely unavailable on any other platform.

OVID’s initial offerings fall into roughly three categories: a) powerful films addressing urgent political and social issues, such as climate change, and economic justice; b) in-depth selections of creative documentaries by world-famous directors; and c) cutting-edge arthouse feature and genre films by contemporary directors as well as established masters. And new films in all three areas will be added to the OVID collection every two weeks.

OVID.tv is an initiative of Docuseek, LLC, which operates Docuseek, a streaming service for colleges and universities which was established in 2012, streaming a library of over 1600 titles.

The eight founding content partners are:

BULLFROG FILMS The leading U.S. publisher of independently produced documentaries on environmental and related social justice issues, in business for more than 45 years, it currently distributes over 750 titles.

THE DGENERATE FILMS COLLECTION dGenerate Films distributes contemporary independent film from mainland China to audiences worldwide. They are dedicated to procuring and promoting visionary content, fueled by transformative social change and digital innovation.

DISTRIB FILMS US An independent distributor of international feature films, Distrib Films US is known for its strong collection of French and Italian fiction feature films.

FIRST RUN FEATURES Founded in 1979 by a group of filmmakers to advance the distribution of independent film, First Run has been honored with a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art for its significant contributions.

GRASSHOPPER FILM A distribution company founded in 2015 by Ryan Krivoshey, dedicated to the release of independent, foreign, and documentary film.

ICARUS FILMS A leading distributor of documentary films in North America, with a collection exceeding 1000 titles. It recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

KIMSTIM A distribution company dedicated to the release of exceptional independent, foreign, and documentary film.

WOMEN MAKE MOVIES Women Make Movies (WMM), a non-profit feminist social enterprise based in New York, is the world’s leading distributor of independent films by and about women.

Lynne Sachs Featured on The Screen’s Margins Podcast

The Screen’s Margins Podcast
12/23/2021
Oll Obout Ovid! No. 21 – All the World’s Memory, Lost Course, the works of Lynne Sachs, and more!

FULL EPISODE AVAILABLE HERE:
https://anchor.fm/screensmargins/episodes/Oll-Obout-Ovid–No–21—All-the-Worlds-Memory–Lost-Course–the-works-of-Lynne-Sachs–and-more-e1c12ib/a-a74q63m

The segment on Lynne Sachs

Welcome to the 99th and final podcast from THE SCREEN’S MARGINS of the year! What a year it’s been, and what better way to round out 2021 than by…okay there’s nothing special, it’s just B Peterson and Witney Seibold talking good film that’s available on Ovid.tv, aka the premise of OLL OBOUT OVID! We talk Alain Renais’ 1956 tribute to libraries, Madeline Anderson’s documentation of Civil Rights activism and activists, Lynne Sachs’ experimental explorations of history, language and the documentary form itself, Jill Li’s chronicling of a democratic movement in Southern China, and more besides! We hope you enjoy, and thank you for your time.

Link to B’s new podcast, launching Jan 1st: anchor.fm/bluegreycloset


See Lynne’s films on Ovid.tv here:
https://www.ovid.tv/lynne-sachs


ABOUT THE SCREEN’S MARGINS
Welcome to the queer-led podcast network from @bluegreycloset, @haroldtxt, @iamthecampion, @the_hoyk and @WitneySeibold exploring lesser-known films/filmmakers.

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.

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.

Lynne Sachs on “Into the Mothlight” Podcast

EP.32 – Lynne Sachs
10/18/2021
by Jason Moyes
https://www.intothemothlight.com/home/ep32-lynne-sachs

Since the 1980s, Lynne Sachs has created cinematic works that defy genre through the use of hybrid forms and collaboration, incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, documentary and poetry.  Her films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. With each project, she investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself. 

After comprehensive career retrospectives at Sheffield Documentary festival in 2020 and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York this year, her latest feature ‘Film about a Father Who’ is being screened on the Criterion Channel along with seven other short films. Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr. a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. ‘Film About a Father Who’ is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. 

We chat about ‘Film About a Father Who’, her approach to experimental documentary making and living and working in San Francisco in 80’s

You can stream 8 of Lynne’s films including FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO on the Criterion Channel here


People, places and films Lynne references include:

The work about civil disobedience is ‘Investigation of a Flame:  A Portrait of the Catonsville Nine’ (2001) 

We discuss the films that feature Lynne’s daughter Maya, including ‘Maya at 24‘ (2021) 

Photograph of wind‘ (2001) – the title taken from an expression used by the photographer Robert Frank   

And ‘Same Stream Twice‘ (2012) 

Quote from the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet

“Everything that surrounds us becomes part of us, it seeps into us with every experience of the flesh and of life and, like the web of a great Spider, binds us subtly to what is near, ensnares us in a fragile cradle of slow death, where we lie rocking in the wind.” 


People and places in San Francisco. 

Lynne worked with the Vietnamese filmmaker, writer and composer Trinh T. Minh-ha 

She learned cinematography from Babette Mangolte  who had also worked with Chantal Akerman  

A mention of Walter Benjamin, and in particular his essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ 

She studied with the Swedish American filmmaker   Gunvor Nelson – Read Lynne’s throughs on the films of this artists here. 

The underground film maker George Kuchar 

Barbara Hammer – read about Lynne’s film ‘A Month of Single Frames’ (2019) here, and see an excerpt from ‘Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor’ here

Filmmaker and curator and her “compatriot big brother and dear dear friend Craig Baldwin and the programmes he would curate at Other Cinema  

Seeing Stan Brakhage films at the San Francisco Cinematheque and the Millennium Film Workshop (New York) 

Stan Brakhage’s annual programme at the Anthology film Archives where he included Lynne’s work ‘The House of Science: a museum of false facts’ (1991)  

Lynne mentions her husband, the filmmaker Mark Street – read about Mark here

The First Person Cinema Salon that Stan Brakhage ran in Boulder, Colorado, and showing silent works by Joseph Cornell from his own collection.  

Teaching filmmaking at the Flowchart Foundation 

And remember that you can support Into the Mothlight on Patreon here


About Into the Mothlight Podcast

Experimental film and installation artist Jason Moyes lives and works in rural Scotland and has been exploring the moving image since 2007. His work has been shown in the UK, North America, Europe and Asia. He is a founding member of the Moving Image Makers Collective.

Writers on Film – “Lynne Sachs: Portrait of a Filmmaker Who”

Writers on Film
Season 1, Ep. 23
by John Bleasdale
10/14/2021

John Bleasdale talks to Lynne Sachs, the Memphis born, Brooklyn based filmmaker on the eve of a season of her works being streamed on the Criterion Channel. Since the 1980s, Sachs has created cinematic works that defy genre through the use of hybrid forms and collaboration, incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, documentary and poetry. Her films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. With each project, she investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself.

Over her career, Sachs has been awarded support from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NYFA, and Jerome Foundation. Sachs has made 40 films (including Tip of My TongueYour Day is My NightInvestigation of a Flame, and Which Way is East). Her films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Wexner Center, the Walker, the Getty, New York Film Festival, and Sundance. In 2021, Edison Film Festival and Prismatic Ground Film Festival at Maysles Documentary Center awarded Sachs for her body of work.

Sachs is also deeply engaged with poetry. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press published her first book Year by Year Poems. In 2020 and 2021, she taught film and poetry workshops at Beyond Baroque, Flowchart Foundation, San Francisco Public Library, and Hunter.  www.lynnesachs.com

After comprehensive career retrospectives at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2020 and the Museum of the Moving Image in 2021, the Criterion Channel is delighted to announce that director Lynne Sachs’ films will join the Channel in October 2021 along with a newly recorded director interview exploring her works. Sachs will be making her the Criterion Channel debut with seven earlier works followed by her latest feature, Film About a Father Who, recently released theatrically by Cinema Guild and receiving its exclusive streaming premiere with the Criterion Channel. 

Cryptofiction Presents Five Films by Lynne Sachs

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/lynnesachs2
https://www.crypto-fiction.com/on-demand


Cryptofiction is excited to present five films by Lynne Sachs including: “Which Way is East” (1994); “Investigation of a Flame” (2001); “States of UnBelonging” (2005); “Your Day is My Night” (2013); and “Epistolary: Letter to Jean Vigo” (2021).

Lynne discovered her love of filmmaking while living and studying in San Francisco where she worked closely with artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Gunvor Nelson, and Trihn T. Min-ha. During this time, she produced her early, experimental works on celluloid which took a feminist approach to the creation of images and writing— a commitment which has grounded her body of work ever since.

From essay films to hybrid docs to diaristic shorts, Sachs has produced 40 films as well as numerous projects for web, installation, and performance. She has tackled topics near and far, often addressing directly the challenge of translation — from one language to another or from spoken work to image. These tensions were investigated most explicitly between 1994 and 2006, when Lynne produced five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany—sites affected by international war–where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions.

Over her career, Sachs has been awarded support from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation. Her films have screened at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, Wexner Center for the Arts, the Walker and the Getty, and at festivals including New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, Punto de Vista, DocAviv, and DocLisboa. Retrospectives of her work have been presented at the Museum of the Moving Image, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Festival International Nuevo Cine in Havana, and China Women’s Film Festival. Her 2019 film “A Month of Single Frames” won the Grand Prize at Oberhausen Festival of Short Films in 2020. In 2021, both the Edison Film Festival and the Prismatic Ground Film Festival at the Maysles Documentary Center awarded Lynne for her body of work in the experimental and documentary fields.


Cryptofiction: Interview with Lynne Sachs


ABOUT

Cryptofiction is an international distribution and production platform based in London, UK.

With over 25 years of combined experience as filmmakers and over a decade as distributors, our team is devoted to bring the attention and viewership deserved by the remarkable and courageous titles that we represent. In addition to distribution services, we offer a wide range of production support for rising and established moving-image makers.

OUR MISSION

We are dedicated to supporting and representing independent cinema from around the world.

Our top priority is to foster excellence amongst an intergenerational community of visionaries and to help younger talent meet and rise in conjunction with established filmmakers. Our on-demand platform is a virtual extension of our distribution agenda. Dedicated to supporting and promoting excellent independent cinema from around the globe, we have carefully curated an exciting set of programs consisting of a mix of young and established filmmakers. As part of our ongoing programming, we offer a new range of films and thematics every 3 months. Unlike similar commercial platforms, we do not and will not operate on a subscription basis. Our viewers are encouraged to browse and watch their desired programs whenever they wish. We are hoping this platform would become a viable means to generate passive income for the remarkable artists and filmmakers that we represent. 

In addition to our on-demand services, we run an annual virtual film festival also dedicated to global intergenerational discourses on relevant thematics and contemporary issues. Supplementing these platforms are a series of one-off events and surprise programmings that bring timely attention to the work of filmmakers as unique socio-political struggles arise.


Mania Akbari (b. Tehran, 1974) is an internationally acclaimed artist and filmmaker. Her provocative, revolutionary and radical films were recently the subject of retrospectives at the BFI, Lon- don (2013), the DFI, Denmark (2014), Oldenburg International Film Festival, Germany (2014), Cyprus Film Festival (2014) and Nottingham Contemporary UK (2018). Her films have screened at festivals around the world and have received numerous awards including German Independence Honorary Award, Oldenberg (2014), Best Film, Digital Section, Venice Film Festival (2004), Nantes Special Public Award Best Film (2007) and Best Director and Best film at Kerala Film Festival (2007), Best Film and Best Actress, Barcelona Film Festival (2007). Akbari was exiled from Iran and currently lives and works in London, a theme addressed in ‘Life May Be’ (2014), co-directed with Mark Cousins. This film was released at Karlovy Vary Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary at Edinburgh International Film Festival (2014) and Asia Pacific Film Festival (2014). Akbari’s latest film ‘A Moon For My Father’, made in collaboration with British artist Douglas White, premiered at CPH:DOX where it won the NEW:VISION Award 2019. The film also received a FIPRESCI International Crit- ics Award at the Flying Broom Festival, Ankara.

Prismatic Ground Hosts Two Programs of Films by Lynne Sachs

https://www.prismaticground.com/lynne-sachs


Lynne Sachs in Conversation with Brett Kashmere (Canyon Cinema) – Ground Glass Award Presentation


Hosted April 8-18 , 2021
Here: https://www.prismaticground.com/

Prismatic Ground is a new film festival centered on experimental documentary. The inaugural edition of the festival, founded by Inney Prakash, will be hosted virtually in partnership with Maysles Documentary Center and Screen Slate. Catch the ‘Opening Night,’ ‘Centerpiece,’ and ‘Closing Night’ events live via Screen Slate’s Twitch channel. The rest of the films, split into four loosely themed sections or ‘waves’, will be available for the festival’s duration at prismaticground.com and through maysles.org. On April 10, at 4PM ET, Prismatic Ground will present the inaugural Ground Glass Award for outstanding contribution in the field of experimental media to Lynne Sachs. Other live engagements TBA.


MUBI and Prismatic Ground Film Festival

Questions from Mubi Notebook interview for the article Experimenting and Expanding at Prismatic Ground

1. How did Prismatic Ground get on your radar, and what drew you to the festival?

I met Prismatic Ground Film Festival director Inney Prakash about a year ago when I was teaching my very first virtual film and poetry workshop at the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem where Inney works as a programmer.  Of course, the workshop was supposed to be a face-to-face experience, but it was May of 2020 and there was no way that was going to happen!  We were living in the beginning of a global pandemic!  Inney was a critical part of our pivot to an online experience that could nourish participants from anywhere in the world.  To our surprise, it worked extraordinarily well and 17 participants from the US, Ireland and Uruguay collaborated on making a series of fantastic video poems.  From that point on, I have a feeling that Inney started to think that anything was possible in terms of making and viewing non-commercial, experimental documentaries. A few months later, he wrote to me to ask me if I would accept the first ever Ground Glass Award from his new founded Prismatic Ground Film Festival. I love the name of the award and thoroughly understand the meaning of the term “ground glass” since I have been making 16mm films since the mid 1980s!  By the way, “ground glass” is the frosted glass surface in a film camera that allows the light projected from the lens to bounce off of a mirror and then be recorded as an image on the film surface.

2. What has your experience been with virtual premieres and screenings? And how has Prismatic Ground been different, if at all?

I had four films circulating in 2020 and 2021, “A Month of Single Frames” (14 min) and “Film About a Father Who” (74 min.), “Girl is Presence” (4 min.), and “Epistolary: Letter to Jean Vigo” (5 min.), plus career retrospectives at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City and at the Sheffield Doc/ Fest in the UK. I was also on the jury for the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the FestCurtas Belo Horizante Film Festival in Brazil. It’s been a daunting but exciting year. Everything was virtual, but somehow it worked. I loved these experiences and felt that they successfully brought filmmakers from all over the world together. The “in real life” experience can often be quite elitist just because air travel and hotel accommodations are so extraordinarily expensive.

     Prismatic Ground embraced an entirely new, unbelievably adventurous yet compassionate approach to the viewing of experimentally driven cinema, beyond anything I have never seen in my life.  Inney presented such an astonishing array of FREE work, never privileging a feature film over a shorter work, or a more accessible film over a more challenging one.  His Q and A’s were informed, respectful and inviting. 

     I also want to say something about the festival website design and graphics which subtly forced all of us as audience to watch the films with focus and commitment.  You could not scroll through a film or go backward or forward. While you were allowed to pause, you could not be a dilettante and hop around from one film to another without losing your place in a movie.  This created the closest experience to the one we have in a theater that I have ever witnessed online. In addition, the aesthetics of the website allowed Inney to frame each film on a page in relationship to others in the same “wave” which meant that you were always aware of his curating and the intricate relationships and themes he wanted you to recognize between the films.

3. Do you have a dream vision for a post-COVID festival ecosystem? Can be as broad as “more digital screenings,” or as specific as “curated specifically for underseen/experimental artists,” anything at all.

I think that the virtual is here to stay, but I also am praying for a return to being in a space with other people, with all the breaths, whispers, laughs, weeping, and shuffling of our bodies. We must accept that the virtual is vital. It allows homebound, less affluent audiences to access work outside mainstream, commercially driven movie culture. It can also put less emphasis on box office revenue which means experimental, underground, alternative cinema can travel on the magic carpet of the internet.  I have noticed that more and more people throughout the world are becoming interested in the history of avant-garde film.  They are discovering the work of artists like Jonas Mekas, Chick Strand, William Greaves, Carolee Schneemann Fernando Solanas and others, not just in museums or in classrooms, but at home. This is a revolution of the mind, the eye and the ear!

4. How has the last year of relative isolation influenced your work, if at all?

Despite the annus horribilis of 2020 (and beyond), I have actually met really interesting, dynamic, risk-taking people in the filmmaking community, all through the virtual portal of Zoom. For example, I was incredibly sad not to be able to attend the retrospective of my work at the Sheffield Doc/ Fest and at Prismatic Ground, but I was still able to meet Trinidadian essay filmmaker Che Applewhaite through our shared screenings at both festivals. Over the last few months, we have corresponded a great deal and recently even managed to meet in person here in NYC.

      As I mentioned, I was on the jury for the 2020 Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Belo Horizante International Short Film Festival in Brazil. While I was not able to talk, face-to-face, or hang out in local bars with my fellow jury members after the screenings, we did develop quite profound relationships that allowed us to share our aesthetic passions and our personal pandemic struggles.

     As an artist, I was able to make several short films that reflected my thinking during these troubling times. One of my most lasting discoveries has been that you can actually make collaborative work with artists from anywhere on the globe, and that this interactive experience can be revelatory.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think this could be possible. Over the course of the last year, I found creative and intellectual comrades with whom I could work on such a surprising and generative level.  Who knew?

Lynne Sachs

Lynne Sachs Awarded “Ground Glass Award” at Prismatic Ground

Prismatic Ground 
March 2021
Screen Slate 
https://www.screenslate.com/articles/prismatic-ground

Hosted April 8-18 
Here: https://www.prismaticground.com/

Prismatic Ground is a new film festival centered on experimental documentary. The inaugural edition of the festival, founded by Inney Prakash, will be hosted virtually in partnership with Maysles Documentary Center and Screen Slate. Catch the ‘Opening Night,’ ‘Centerpiece,’ and ‘Closing Night’ events live via Screen Slate’s Twitch channel. The rest of the films, split into four loosely themed sections or ‘waves’, will be available for the festival’s duration at prismaticground.com and through maysles.org. On April 10, at 4PM ET, Prismatic Ground will present the inaugural Ground Glass Award for outstanding contribution in the field of experimental media to Lynne Sachs. Other live engagements TBA.

Logo: Kelsey Kaptur


Opening Night: Thursday, April 8th at 8PM ET on twitch.tv/screenslate

The Films of Anita Thacher
Co-presented by Microscope Gallery. Film critic Amy Taubin in conversation.


Centerpiece: Thursday, April 15th at 8PM ET on twitch.tv/screenslate

Newsreels of the Distant Now, a special presentation by Creative Agitation (Erin and Travis Wilkerson)
Filmmakers in conversation.


Closing Night: Sunday, April 18th at 8PM ET on twitch.tv/screenslate

Second Star to the Right and Straight on ‘Til Morning (dir. Bill and Turner Ross) + Dadli (dir. Shabier Kirchner, 2018, 14 min.)
Filmmakers in conversation.

Streaming through the festival’s duration at prismaticground.com and through maysles.org:

Ground Glass Award
Prismatic Ground will present the inaugural Ground Glass award for outstanding contribution in the field of experimental media to filmmaker Lynne Sachs on April 10, 2021 at 4PM ET. A selection of Sachs’ work curated by Craig Baldwin will be available for the festival’s duration, courtesy of Baldwin, Sachs, and Canyon Cinema:

Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (4 min., 1986)
Sermons and Sacred Pictures (29 min., 1989)
The House of Science: a museum of false facts (30 min., 1991)
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam (made with Dana Sachs) (33 min., 1994)
A Month of Single Frames (for Barbara Hammer) (14 min., 2019)
Investigation of a Flame (45 min., 2001)
And Then We Marched (4 min., 2017)
The Washing Society (co-directed with Lizzie Olesker) (44 min., 2018)


Drawn & Quartered will also be streaming in the program- wave 4: through the flowering fields of the sea

Home in the Woods (dir. Brandon Wilson, 2020, 96 min.)
Bodes In Dissent (dir. Ufuoma Essi, 2021, 6 min.)
Make Sure the Sea Is Still There (dir. Gloria Chung, 2021, 8 min.)
The Aquarium (dir. Paweł Wojtasik, 2006, 22 min.)
hold — fuel — when — burning (dir. dd. chu, 2020, 11 min.)
Depths (dir. Ryan Marino, 2020, 5 min.)
Look Then Below (dir. Ben Rivers, 2019, 22 min.)
Drawn & Quartered (dir. Lynne Sachs, 1986, 4 min.)
End of the Season (dir. Jason Evans, 2020, 13 min.)
Learning About Flowers and Their Seeds (dir. Emily Apter and Annie Horner, 2021, 4 min.)
A Slight Wrinkle in the Strata (dir. Ryan Clancy, 2021, 30 min.)
Back Yard (dir. Arlin Golden, 2020, 7 min.)
In Our Nature (dir. Sara Leavitt, 2019, 3 min.)
By Way of Canarsie (dir. Lesley Steele and Emily Packer, 2019, 14 min.)


About Prismatic Ground
Prismatic Ground is a New York festival centered on experimental documentary. Hosted by Maysles Documentary Center and online NYC film resource Screen Slate, the festival will be primarily virtual for its first year barring a timely end to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We seek work that pushes the formal boundaries of non-fiction in the spirit and tradition of experimental filmmaking. This “spirit” is somewhat amorphous, undefinable, and open to interpretation, but refers to work that engages with its own materiality, and that privileges a heightened artistic experience over clear meaning.

For a better sense of what we’re looking for, here are some filmmakers that inspire us: Chris Marker, Lynne Sachs, Kevin Jerome Everson, The Otolith Group, Black Audio Film Collective, Pat O’Neill, Cecilia Condit, Edward Owens, Chick Strand, Barbara Hammer, Khalik Allah, Michael Snow, Janie Geiser, Isaac Julien, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Sky Hopinka, Fern Silva, Akosua Adoma Owusu…

“Investigation of a Flame” Streaming with MoMA March 4 – 9

Investigation of a Flame. 2001
Directed by Lynne Sachs
Thu, Mar 4, 12:00 p.m.–Tue, Mar 9, 12:00 p.m.
moma.org
https://www.moma.org/calendar/events/6950

This film accompanies 20 Years of Doc Fortnight.
This film is part of Film Programming.

Virtual Cinema screenings are available exclusively to MoMA
members. Not a member? Join today and start streaming.

Investigation of a Flame. 2001. USA. Directed by Lynne Sachs. 45 min.

On May 17, 1968, a group of Catholic anti–Vietnam War protestors armed with homemade napalm confiscated hundreds of selective service records and set fire to them in a Catonsville, Maryland, parking lot. Decades later, director Lynne Sachs interviews the surviving members of the Catonsville Nine about their acts of resistance and their unwavering commitment to peace. Screened on opening night of Documentary Fortnight’s inaugural year, only months after 9/11—and now 20 years later in a new era of discontent—Investigation of a Flame is as powerful as ever, a call to action in the face of turmoil and injustice. Courtesy the Film-Makers’ Cooperative

Virtual Cinema is not available to Annual Pass members. With the exception of Modern Mondays programs, Virtual Cinema screenings are not available outside the US.