Tag Archives: maya at 24

A Collection & A Conversation / Gene Siskel Film Center

A Collection & A Conversation
Gene Siskel Film Center
February 23, 2022
https://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/collection-conversation

A COLLECTION & A CONVERSATION
2018, 2022, Lynne Sachs, USA, 64 mins
In English | Format: Digital

Thursday, February 23 at 6pm | This program of four short and medium-length pieces highlights Sachs’ filmography from a poetic, personal perspective, as she uses her camera to capture the essence of people, places, and moments in time. The scope of this work includes DRIFT AND BOUGH (2014, USA, 6 min., No dialogue / Format: 8mm on digital), an assemblage of 8mm footage from a winter morning in Central Park. Set to sound artist Stephen Vitiello’s delicate and assured score, the contrasting darkness – of skyscrapers, fences, trees, and people – against bright snow, gives way to a meditative living picture. In MAYA AT 24 (2021, USA, 4 min., No dialogue / Format: 16mm on digital), Sachs presents a spinning, swirling cinematic record of her daughter Maya, chronicled at ages 6, 16, and 24. As Maya runs, she glances – furtively, lovingly, distractedly – through the lens and at her mother, conveying a wordless bond between parent and child, and capturing the breathtakingly quick nature of time. Presented for the first time publicly, in VISIT TO BERNADETTE MAYER’S CHILDHOOD HOME (2020, USA, 3 min., In English / Format: 16mm on digital), Sachs visits poet Bernadette Mayer’s childhood home in Queens to celebrate Mayer’s work, through a reverent, flowing collage. Queens, New York is also the backdrop for the poetry of Paolo Javier in SWERVE (2022, USA, 7 min., in various languages with English subtitles / Format: Digital), a “COVID film” that documents people emerging – cautiously, distanced, masked – from the global pandemic, finding their way in the liminal space between “before” and “after,” and connected by language and verse. In collaboration with playwright Lizzie Olesker, THE WASHING SOCIETY (2018, USA, 44 min., In English / Format: Digital) explores the once ubiquitous but now endangered public laundromat. Inspired by “To ’Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War” by Tera W. Hunter, THE WASHING SOCIETY is an observational study of lather and labor, a document of the lives of working class women who – largely overlooked and underappreciated – load, dry, fold, and repeat. Post-screening conversation with Lynne Sachs.


5 Questions with Lynne Sachs

(Interview from the January/February issue of the Gazette)

Your films are often so collaborative in nature – inspired by or featuring poets, authors, fellow artists, musicians. How do you forge these partnerships? 
From the very beginning of my life as a filmmaker, I resisted the traditional, pyramid structure for the industry. If film is an art, why does it have to embrace this kind of corporate model? I never wanted to direct movies. I wanted to make films. Rigid hierarchies just seem anachronistic and patriarchal to me. When I work with other people on my films, I look for kindred spirits with a shared passion and enthusiasm. In 1991, I shot film of a dear friend rolling nude down a sand dune in Death Valley. She only agreed to take off her clothes if I would stand nude while doing the filming. I had to agree, of course. That was a collaboration for THE HOUSE OF SCIENCE. In 1994, I traveled with my Bolex, a cassette recorder and a notebook through Vietnam with my sister to make WHICH WAY IS EAST, an essay film constructed around our sometimes parallel, sometimes divergent perspectives. That was another collaboration. In 2006, I asked a former student to exchange letters with me as we both contemplated the fraught situation in Israel/ Palestine. Our epistolary exchange became the foundation for a collaborative writing endeavor. In 2018, artist Barbara Hammer asked me to work with film material that she had shot twenty years before. She knew she was dying and that our friendship could transform her images into a collaborative experience. I completed this cross-generational collaboration and called it A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES. Perhaps my most sustained collaboration has been with sound artist Stephen Vitiello. His deeply inventive approach to making music continuously reminds me of how lucky I am to live in a world with other creative people who find sustenance from the shared joy of making work. When I look at DRIFT AND BOUGH, YOUR DAY IS MY NIGHT, THE WASHING SOCIETY, TIP OF MY TONGUE, and FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO, I am reminded of our connections, what we did together and what I learned from this vital human being.

Who are your cinematic heroes? 
Sometimes a person is lucky enough to experience a hero and a mentor all wrapped into one. That is what happened to me. The first time I witnessed (as opposed to just saw) Bruce Conner’s iconoclastic and irreverent collage films in 1984 (A MOVIE, VALSE TRISTE, and CROSSROADS), I was transfixed. Never before had I imagined that a short, experimental film could be so radical, so rhythmic and so inexplicably resonant. I wrote to him a year later expressing an interest in working with him as an assistant in his studio in San Francisco. To my surprise, he said yes. Though I had little to offer except for curiosity and enthusiasm, I spent a year at his side, helping him organize his archive, parsing through letters he’d received from fans and driving him around in his convertible looking for Geiger counters with which to assess the radioactivity in his neighborhood. Not long after I completed my work with Bruce, I began a two year assistant position with Trịnh T. Minh Hà. Her presence in my life pushed me in completely different ways. As a filmmaker, poet, and cultural theorist, Minh-ha showed me how artists with cameras could analyze the way that they look at the world. She really introduced me to the idea of self-reflexivity in cinema. An artist’s embrace of words and images should bring together observation and introspection through a constant lens of doubt. I recorded sound on her films (SURNAME VIET GIVEN NAME NAM and SHOOT FOR THE CONTENTS) and assisted in her editing room. Other filmmaker heroes whose set my mind a-spinning, include: Peggy Ahwesh, Zeinabu Irene Davis, Maya Deren, Jeanne Finley, Christopher Harris, Su Friedrich, Zora Neal Hurston, Lucretia Martel, Yvonne Rainer, Julia Reichardt, Mark Street, Reverend L.O. Taylor, Kidlat Tahimik, and so many more.

What advice would you give to students studying film/filmmaking?
Early in my career as a filmmaker, I gave up a volunteer job working for a the brilliant, progressive documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple to take a paid job with a commercial company making Marine Corp promotional videos. It was horrible, and I cried every afternoon sitting at the telephone answering calls. I was an unglorified secretary. In retrospect, I wish I had continued waitressing (even after I spilled an entire tray on a woman’s lap) to pay the bills so that I could keep my production assistant position on Kopple’s AMERICAN DREAM, where I would have learned more and been more inspired. Continue to make short films throughout your life as an artist. Making features can be a deeply meaningful and totally immersive experience, but the joy of coming up with an idea and then seeing it to completion over a few months or a year is equally profound. It’s like deciding between writing a poem or a novel. Both are worthy, but one is certainly more likely to be cheaper and more liberating to produce. Plus interest in short films is soaring these days! Being part of an artist community is as gratifying as establishing yourself as a successful filmmaker. Create a collective for exhibiting your work as well as those of other artist friends by curating programs in alternative spaces like garages, attics, backyards and basements. Support each other by telling your friends about grant opportunities, bringing cupcakes to their set, or teaching them how to use a Bolex 16mm camera. Show compassion to other artists by engaging with them around their struggles and their joys.

What is a memorable moviegoing experience you’ve had? 
I had always wanted to see Czech New-Wave filmmaker Věra Chytilová’s 1966 feature film DAISIES, a renowned, anti-authoritarian send-up of insatiable desires and female friendship. My own friend Kathy Geritz, now a curator at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, and I got hold of a 16mm print and invited anyone who was interested to join us in a small theater. For weeks, we were giddy with anticipation. The day arrived and both of us set ourselves up in the projection booth, happy to be responsible for what we saw as a historical event, at least in our lives. Together, we swooned with excitement in the booth, completely taken with Chytilová’s brilliant direction. From behind the glass between the booth and the theater, we caught site of two arms flailing in the air. Only once the credits started to roll, and the audience began to exit the theater did we discover that a man in the room had had a disturbing and mysterious episode that involved loud grunting and running around the room during the film. I never figured out if he hated the film or was, himself, so deeply moved by the exhilarating performance of its two female stars that he too chose to let it all hang out.

What film do you watch again and again? 
I have watched SANS SOLEIL by Chris Marker at least 20 times. I discover something about the punctum in an image – the accident that pricks, as Roland Barthes might call it – in his discursive, layered, evocative, astute essay film every time I watch it.


Lynne Sachs: A Poet’s Perspective

Committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, experimental filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in each new project. Embracing archives, letters, portraits, confessions, poetry, and music, her films take us on a critical journey through reality and memory. Regardless of the passage of time, these films continue to be extremely contemporary, coherent, and radical in their artistic conception.

Lynne has produced over 40 films as well as numerous live performances, installations, and web projects. Over the course of her career, Lynne has worked closely with fellow filmmakers Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Chris Marker, Gunvor Nelson, Carolee Schneemann, and Trinh T. Minh-ha. Sachs’ films have screened at MoMA, Tate Modern, Image Forum Tokyo, Wexner Center for the Arts, the New York Film Festival, Oberhausen Int’l Short FF, Punto de Vista, Sundance, Vancouver IFF, Viennale, and Doclisboa, among others. In 2021, Sachs received awards from both Edison Film Festival and Prismatic Ground Film Festival at the Maysles Documentary Center for her achievements in the experimental and documentary fields. 

The Film Center, in collaboration with Conversations at the Edge and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Film, Video, New Media, and Animation program, is honored to welcome Sachs to the Film Center in person for two evenings of her work, followed by in-depth conversations. Photo credit: Inés Espinosa López. 

A Snapshot of 2022: “Still Processing” Grief Via The Criterion Channel / The Memory Tourist

A Snapshot of 2022: “Still Processing” Grief Via The Criterion Channel
The Memory Tourist
by Thomas M. Willett
December 28, 2022
https://thememorytourist.blogspot.com/2022/12/a-snapshot-of-2022-still-processing.html

As the years linger on, I’ve come to realize that we’re living in a very nostalgic period. I’m not discussing so much in a franchise way, but more this sense of witnessing and coming to terms with our mortality. Even as 2022 ends with significantly fewer COVID-19 fatalities than in previous years, the reality is that it’s still a thing. The winter has run rampant with a triple flu and countries outside America are still experiencing millions of losses. Even then, those who have taken precautions have likely grown nostalgic for a few reasons. Maybe they’re coming to terms with what they’d leave behind or the fragility of a human body. 

It’s why films like The Fabelmans (2022), Armageddon Time (2022), and Bardo (2022) have found established auteurs looking into their past to find greater meaning in their relationships. Whereas these would’ve been seen as self-indulgent exercises five years ago, I find myself in a more forgiving mood now. These are the stories everyone should’ve been telling after surviving the worst collective year of modern existence. We should be celebrating the people in our lives and do our best to preserve their memory for others to understand their significance. 

I say this as someone who has had a rough two year span regarding death. Last year, my friend from high school died from a drug overdose, causing me to dig deep into those years to understand what he meant to me and realized how much joy and regret was found there. The loss became more tragic as I humanized the moment, painting in the details and discovering a moment of time I hadn’t thought much about. For as dour as life was then, there is something profound about recognizing that life wasn’t always like that. Better yet, it makes you realize the power of being alive at all.

I say that as I spent the time since having to think about my grandparents. Christmas 2021 included a doctor’s phone call determining whether my grandfather should be allowed to have a surgery that would prolong his life at most another few months. While I watched my father deal with the grief of losing him, I had this strange sense of acceptance. He was in his 90s, had spent the final years of his life in and out of the hospital. I applaud the nursing care who risked their lives in 2020 with hospice care. I was more concerned that at a point life ceased to have meaning because of how immobile he was, co-dependent on doctors to take care of him. It was also an awkward day when the family cleaned out grandmother’s nursing home, accepting that her social life with us was over. At most, I would await the phone game approach to how we shared news. 

I’m sure the loss impacts everyone differently. For me, it was as much a moment of painfully waiting for the suffering to end as it was figuring out how to summarize their lives. I was the obituary writer. I knew how to capture their lives in these snapshots and have them resonate with readers. I can’t speak for how my father has taken these losses, though he has become more willing to share stories, doing what he can to keep their memory alive. Given my insecurity around them both being health risks for most of the past few years, it felt like we all should be relieved. The suffering was over. They were at peace. 

But as the funeral was being prepared, the memorabilia came out. Along with the stories were these boxes of photographs spanning decades. Their youth suddenly appeared in my hands as I flipped the pages of photographs slipped into their respective slots. My grandfather was the photographer in the family, so he was often hidden. What we were seeing was the world usually through his perspective. Along with trying to figure out what was going on, there was something to trying to understand what he saw in that moment. Why did he want to capture this group of people holding a conversation? What spoke to him about this mountain range? In some respect, it’s the same fascination I have with Kirsten Johnson’s phenomenal Cameraperson (2016) documentary where she captures unrelated moments and the viewer tries to make sense of why Johnson included it. Given that she also made the excellent Dick Johnson is Dead (2020) about her father’s years with dementia, I’m willing to believe she and I share a reverence for life and achievement, doing what we can to preserve our existence.

With all of this said, there was one piece of media that I felt captured and understood the grieving process best. When the dust settles and all that’s left are the memories that live in our mind, how do we recognize their lives? The Criterion Channel is home to an amazing, seemingly endless, resource of shorts, and one of the filmmakers I have grown to love the most is Sophy Romvari. By some luck, I stumbled across a collection of her work that included Still Processing (2020), described as Romvari looking through a box of photographs and trying to make sense of her relative’s passing. She needed permission from her parents to share them, and the results are incredible.

Based on what work I’ve seen, she is a filmmaker who uses art to grapple with complicated themes. Most of her best work can be called a fusion of documentary and fiction, finding these connections that we have to each other. In this case, she uses an approach that embraces the silence, allowing the viewer to understand what it’s like to truly grieve. While it ends with a slideshow that ties together moments, the audio is largely non-verbal. There’s no suggestion of what these pictures are supposed to mean. As the opening suggests, these are just photographs that were taken without any greater purpose. Their intention is forgotten or not ever expressed. The only indication of how we’re supposed to feel are various cuts to Romvari looking at them whose blank stare suggests what the title promises. She’s still processing. No emotion has fully formed, and it makes the sense of discovery all the more sublime.

As the images flash over the screen, there is one technique that could read as a gimmick but actually elevates the piece into one of the best things I’ve seen in 2022. Save for a momentary score of sentimental strings, she leaves things largely silent, allowing for the sensory details of her environment to speak for her. We grieve alone, never given the chance to break out into song or have that essential consoling that puts it into context. All we have are our thoughts on the subject, and Romvari puts them exactly where they should be.

Much like Jennifer Reeder, Romvari’s use of subtitles helps to create a subconsciousness in her work. These lines are never spoken and yet they are essential to understanding what is being communicated. She shouldn’t say them out loud. They should be there to be read, an expression of our interiority as we determine something more metaphysical. In the case of Still Processing, the subtitles communicate an array of emotions that everyone likely has experienced at some point. With death representing a finality, the context of a messy ending of a family relationship. When the subtitles read a wish of not having been so mean to him throughout his life, there’s a gut punch that comes with the accompanying innocence. It’s just a picture of someone smiling, youthful in appearance. With this move, she’s pushing aside the pettiness that we all face to those we spend our lives around, finding them at our best and worst moments. When grieving, regret tends to be richer because there’s satisfaction with the joy. Maybe you’ll wish it lasted longer, but the pain stings because of how it lingers, can change the good into something cruel and unintentional. Was Romvari really that mean to him or is this just a projection of how limiting time is? 

The execution is simple, going on to feature actual footage of them as kids. For one of the first times, Romvari is discussing her past. She asks “what were we listening to?” as children dance around a chair. It’s goofy, nonsensical, and very disorganized. In more innocent times it would be considered embarrassing, but now Romvari notices that looking at the past brings a certain pain. Why does joy hurt so much? Over the course of 17 minutes, Romvari has perfectly captured what it’s like to look into the archives, especially of a fairly fresh loss. Unlike my grandparents, I’m sure her loss was more abrupt and the sense of peace came at a more difficult climb. With that said, losing a friend in their early 30s, when so much of their life laid ahead of them, is something that connected me to this piece more. I attended his funeral and saw pictures of the years I missed and the few I was there for. In that moment, I had no choice but to contemplate what those moments meant to me, finding this sad affair full of pictures of him eating Mexican food with his sister and visiting the beach. In a moment of loss, it’s hard to forget that he lived and for as cornball as the funeral director usually makes those moments, the pictures work best by themselves.

I also think of Romvari’s Nine Behind (2016) which also is intended to be a self-reflective piece. I should note that unlike Still Processing, I’m unsure if that qualifies as autobiographical. Even then, the intention of her silence conveys a point that I don’t think even subtitles could capture. During a phone call with her elderly relative, she begins to ask questions about his life. Over the few minutes, we see one side of the conversation, but it’s clear that so much is missing in the questions Romvari is asking. There’s a disconnection of language, history, and even emotional connection. They are family, and yet something is missing. All of these years together, there’s the sense that she didn’t think to ask questions that would preserve their memory, give them a preservation that would make him endearing to future generations. Whether it’s true or not, this too feels like it’s full of regret. The only difference is that it’s implied instead of comfortably mentioned.

It’s something that I also see in the emotional silence of Lynne Sach’s Maya at 24 (2021). With nothing more than a clockwise twirl, Sachs captures Maya’s life at 6, 16, and 24. Without commentary, the sense of growth happens and soon she’s an adult. While I remain convinced that it doesn’t quite resonate as emotionally as it would to The Sach Family, I still have come back to it over the past year, noticing how time has evolved and changed all of us. Soon all we’re left with are questions about the years gone by, the things we’ve missed, and the ones we wish would’ve lasted a little longer. It’s the beauty of shorts like this. They don’t need two hours to give us insight. All Sach needs is four minutes to make an art piece that has driven me back to it over and over.

 I suppose that the only way to properly end this journey through Criterion Channel’s amazing content is with An Evening (2013). While a lot of Romvari and Sach’s work reminds me more of my friend and the younger people whose lives were cut too short, An Evening is something that feels reminiscent of something I’ve actually experienced this year. Following the passing of my grandparents, there was the reality of having to deal with their home. It still has this uncanny quality of feeling like someone had lived there, where their belongings are still scattered in just the ways they wanted. Like the pictures, all I can do is look at the bed and wonder what they thought about at night. 

An Evening is a short by Sofia Bohdanowicz that pushes the concept of loss to new levels. I’m not even sure that it’s necessarily a funereal story, but it’s tough to not read it as such. Over 19 minutes, she films a vacant home as a day turns to night. We see the notes left on a fridge and the disheveled rooms. Even the way that kitchen machines have lights go off in the dark begins to inspire chills. Like my grandparents’ house, there was a life here and to a stranger our only choice is to guess what they mean. Even the use of dusk is powerful, as if the closure of a life, where the visuals become more difficult to see. What’s left is a memory of what we saw. There’s no score to tell us how to feel, just the wind blowing through the night air and any creaks an old home would have. 

It’s what I think about as I went into my grandparents’ home after their deaths. I was especially drawn to his bookshelf in a room that I rarely went into. There were whole collections of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and a few John Steinbeck among others. I wondered what those books meant to him and if there were any clues left in those pages. Given that he loved to open a book to the point it broke the spine, I imagined each one was personally molded to his style of reading. Something about his personality was hidden even in the organization of that wall. Why were these the ones he displayed? I picked up his copy of Steinbeck’s “The Wayward Bus.” It was a great read, but I remain perplexed by a hand-written chart in the back where someone wrote out various prices for things relevant to the plot. Why was this here? What did he hope to discover?

Again, that’s a mystery that is left for us to only speculate about. There’s no way to ask him now, and it’s haunting to be alone with those details and have to determine how much we want to look into it. For those who mean a lot to you, there’s hope that you’ll learn something new in that chart. Even if it’s indirect, something will come of navigating the memories. A new connection could be made and their lives molded into a greater texture. It’s one full of regret, but it’s important to remember the hope and optimism. Amid the emptiness is something that provokes thought. It’s only if I keep looking that I stand to find a greater substance. 

I imagine that there will be more deaths in the years ahead. It’s an inevitable part of life and I imagine the journey will not be unlike what I went through in 2022. Sure, it’s more convenient to turn to films like Petite Maman (2021) or Personal Shopper (2017) and recognize some more abstract truth in there. Even making a film akin to The Fabelmans might seek to cement their legacy for generations to come. With that said, I find Romvari, Sach, Bohdanowicz, and even Johnson’s view of life much more fulfilling. There are things we’ll never know. We’re still processing something that is unique to everyone. For me, coming to terms with that void is the most satisfying way, and hopefully, with that I can hope to make a greater context start to take shape.

Lynne Sachs: A Poet’s Perspective / Gene Siskel Film Center – School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Lynne Sachs: A Poet’s Perspective
Gene Siskel Film Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
December 23, 2022
Screenings on February 20 & 23, 2023
https://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/lynnesachs

LYNNE SACHS: A POET’S PERSPECTIVE

Committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, experimental filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in each new project. Embracing archives, letters, portraits, confessions, poetry, and music, her films take us on a critical journey through reality and memory. Regardless of the passage of time, these films continue to be extremely contemporary, coherent, and radical in their artistic conception.

Lynne has produced over 40 films as well as numerous live performances, installations, and web projects. Over the course of her career, Lynne has worked closely with fellow filmmakers Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Chris Marker, Gunvor Nelson, Carolee Schneemann, and Trinh T. Minh-ha. Sachs’ films have screened at MoMA, Tate Modern, Image Forum Tokyo, Wexner Center for the Arts, the New York Film Festival, Oberhausen Int’l Short FF, Punto de Vista, Sundance, Vancouver IFF, Viennale, and Doclisboa, among others. In 2021, Sachs received awards from both Edison Film Festival and Prismatic Ground Film Festival at the Maysles Documentary Center for her achievements in the experimental and documentary fields. 

The Film Center, in collaboration with Conversations at the Edge and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Film, Video, New Media, and Animation program, is honored to welcome Sachs to the Film Center in person for two evenings of her work, followed by in-depth conversations. Photo credit: Inés Espinosa López.


MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 6:00PM

FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO

2020, dir. Lynne Sachs
USA, 74 min. In English / Format: Digital

Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8mm and 16mm film, videotape, and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, Sachs’ cinematic exploration of her father offers simultaneous, sometimes contradictory, views of one seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame, yet privately ensconced in secrets. With this meditation on fatherhood and masculinity, Sachs allows herself and her audience to see beneath the surface of the skin, beyond the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, she discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal. (Cinema Guild) Post-screening conversation with Lynne Sachs.


THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 6:00PM

A COLLECTION & A CONVERSATION

2018-2022, dir. Lynne Sachs
USA, 64 min., In English / Format: Digital 

This program of four short and medium-length pieces highlights Sachs’ filmography from a poetic, personal perspective, as she uses her camera to capture the essence of people, places, and moments in time. The scope of this work includes DRIFT AND BOUGH (2014, USA, 6 min., No dialogue / Format: 8mm on digital), an assemblage of 8mm footage from a winter morning in Central Park. Set to sound artist Stephen Vitiello’s delicate and assured score, the contrasting darkness – of skyscrapers, fences, trees, and people – against bright snow, gives way to a meditative living picture. In MAYA AT 24 (2021, USA, 4 min., No dialogue / Format: 16mm on digital), Sachs presents a spinning, swirling cinematic record of her daughter Maya, chronicled at ages 6, 16, and 24. As Maya runs, she glances – furtively, lovingly, distractedly – through the lens and at her mother, conveying a wordless bond between parent and child, and capturing the breathtakingly quick nature of time. Presented for the first time publicly, in VISIT TO BERNADETTE MAYER’S CHILDHOOD HOME (2020, USA, 3 min., In English / Format: 16mm on digital), Sachs visits poet Bernadette Mayer’s childhood home in Queens to celebrate Mayer’s work, through a reverent, flowing collage. Queens, New York is also the backdrop for the poetry of Paolo Javier in SWERVE (2022, USA, 7 min., in various languages with English subtitles / Format: Digital), a “COVID film” that documents people emerging – cautiously, distanced, masked – from the global pandemic, finding their way in the liminal space between “before” and “after,” and connected by language and verse. In collaboration with playwright Lizzie Olesker, THE WASHING SOCIETY (2018, USA, 44 min., In English / Format: Digital) explores the once ubiquitous but now endangered public laundromat. Inspired by “To ’Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War” by Tera W. Hunter, THE WASHING SOCIETY is an observational study of lather and labor, a document of the lives of working class women who – largely overlooked and underappreciated – load, dry, fold, and repeat. Post-screening conversation with Lynne Sachs. 

“They’ve got catfish on the table” / Keeping Up — Substack by Ashley Clark

“They’ve got catfish on the table”
Keeping Up
By Ashley Clark
October 29, 2022
https://ashleyclark.substack.com/p/theyve-got-catfish-on-the-table

They’ve got catfish on the table
They’ve got Ghostwatch in the air

Hello! Thank you for signing up to, or stumbling on, this no-news-newsletter written by me, Ashley Clark. If you do choose to subscribe—and it’s free—you’ll receive bulletins about whatever’s on my mind: usually some combination of art/film/music/literature/football. If that sounds good, hit the button!

This week’s quick rec is “Freedom Flight”, the closing track from the 1971 LP of the same name by the American musician Shuggie Otis. Otis, who is of African American, Filipino, and Greek descent, is probably best known for his song “Strawberry Letter 23” which, as recorded by The Brothers Johnson and produced by Quincy Jones, was a big chart hit in 1977, and later featured on the score for Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997).

Anyway, “Freedom Flight” is wonderful: a near 13 minute instrumental soundscape of pealing horns, chiming guitars, and delicate, melodic bass noodling (my favorite kind.) I must confess I have no idea whether the songs’s title is inspired by the real-life so-called Freedom Flights (Los vuelos de la libertad) that transported Cubans to Miami in large numbers between 1965 to 1973, but either way, it’s a monumentally transporting and relaxing piece of music, and I’ve been listening to it a lot.

I had a very nice time at last week’s Indie Memphis film festival, which was celebrating its 25th edition. Highlights of my visit included a screening of Benjamin Christensen’s berserk witchcraft horror/essay film/comedy Häxan (1922) featuring a live, theremin-fueled, and curiously (but somehow appropriately) smooth-jazzy score; the good vibes/sounds/eats of the Black Creators Forum brunch; and the privilege of serving on the Departures (experimental/avant-garde film) jury alongside two people I greatly admire: writer/scholar Yasmina Price; and critic/filmmaker Blair McClendon. We handed out three awards: short film to Maya at 24 by Lynne Sachs, mid-length film to Civic by Dwayne LeBlanc, and feature film to Cette Maison (This House) by Miryam Charles. We loved all three, and I would suggest keeping an eye out to catch any of them when and where you can.

If I’m being honest, though, my real high point of Indie Memphis was attending a rather unexpected late night screening of the television special Ghostwatch, a true oddity which was broadcast once on BBC1, on Halloween night of 1992… and never again.

Indie Memphis managing director Joseph Carr told me before the screening that he stumbled across Ghostwatch on streaming service Shudder a few years back, and was so shaken that he felt the need to share it with a wider audience. It also didn’t hurt that this year marked the thirtieth anniversary of its first and only broadcastI’d read about the show in the past, and vaguely recall it airing at the time, but I hadn’t actually seen it until last week. I found it to be a staggeringly effective piece of television: intelligent, technically astonishing, and genuinely haunting. I’ve been turning it over in my mind since.

You can watch Ghostwatch here for free. It’s a tight 90 minutes, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Now, there’s a reason why I’ve been so absurdly vague about what Ghostwatch actually is, and that’s because I think this is one of those rare occasions where, even thirty years after the fact, a spoiler alert is justified, and coming to it completely cold—opening yourself up to the world it creates, and imagining that you had tuned into that initial broadcast moments after the BBC announcer had cued up the show with some context—could be beneficial to your viewing experience.

That said, there’s plenty of information about the backstory, intent and legacy of Ghostwatch freely available online, and you’re welcome to look it up if you’re someone who prefers to have a little bit of foreknowledge. I assume my British readers are likely to be much more familiar with the show and its milieu than my American and other international readers. After you’ve watched, you may wish to check out this entertaining and informative episode of the “Criminal” podcast about the show (thank you to artist Onyeka Igwe for flagging that one for me!) And it’s also out on Blu-ray soon, too.

If you do check out Ghostwatch, let me know what you think, and if you saw it at the time it was first broadcast, I’d love to know what the experience was like. Until next week!

Indie Memphis 2022 Wrap-Up / Memphis Flyer

Indie Memphis 2022 Wrap-Up
Memphis Flyer
By Chris McCoy
October 26, 2022
https://www.memphisflyer.com/indie-memphis-2022-wrap-up

Indie Memphis 2022 Wrap-Up

The annual film festival honors the best of their 25th anniversary year.

The 25th Indie Memphis Film Festival concluded last Monday with a film that made a case for the importance of the 1970 Blaxploitation wave, and a film that proved its point. Is That Black Enough For You? is the first movie by Elvis Mitchell, a former New York Times film critic and cinema scholar turned documentary director. Mitchell traced the history of Black representation in film from the era of silent “race” pictures and D.W. Griffith’s pro-KKK, proto-blockbuster Birth of a Nation through the foreshortened careers of Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge to the wave of low-budget, Black-led gangster, adventure, and fantasy films which started in the late 1960s and crested with The Wiz. Films like Superfly and Coffy, Mitchell argues in his voluminous voice-over narration, presented the kinds of rousing heroes that attracted film-goers while the New Hollywood movement presented visions of angst-filled antiheroes.

Blaxploitation films also introduced a new kind of music to films and the concept of the soundtrack album, which was often released before the movie itself in order to drum up interest. The prime example was Shaft, which featured an Academy Award-winning soundtrack by Isaac Hayes. Mitchell introduced the classic with Willie Hall, the Memphis drummer who recorded the immortal hi-hat rhythm that kicks off Hayes’ theme song. Mitchell revealed in Is That Black Enough For You? that Hayes had been inspired by Sergio Leone’s score for Once Upon a Time in the West, and the score he penned for Shaft still holds up, providing much of the detective film’s throbbing propulsion.

The winners of the competitive portion of the 2022 film festival were announced at a hilariously irreverent awards ceremony Saturday evening at Playhouse on the Square. After a two-year hiatus, Savannah Bearden returned to produce the awards, which were “hosted” by Birdy, the tiny red metal mockingbird which has served as the film festival’s mascot for years. But amidst the nonstop jokes and spoof videos, there were genuinely touching moments, such as when Craig Brewer surprised art director and cameraperson Sallie Sabbatini with the Indie Award, which is given to outstanding Memphis film artisans, and when former Executive Director Ryan Watt was ambushed with the Vision Award.

The Best Narrative Feature award went to Our Father, the Devil, an African immigrant story directed by Ellie Foumbi. Kit Zauhar’s Actual People won the Duncan Williams Best Screenplay Award. The Documentary Feature award went to Reed Harkness for Sam Now, a portrait of the director’s brother that has been in production for the entire 25 years that Indie Memphis has been in existence.

The Best Hometowner Feature award, which honors films made in Memphis, went to Jack Lofton’s The ’Vous, a moving portrait of the people who make The Rendezvous a world-famous icon of Memphis barbecue. (“We voted with our stomachs,” said jury member Larry Karaszewski.) The Best Hometowner Narrative Short went to “Nordo” by Kyle Taubken, about a wife anxiously waiting for her husband to return from Afghanistan. Lauren Ready earned her second Indie Memphis Hometowner Documentary award for her short film “What We’ll Never Know.”

In the Departures category, which includes experimental, genre, and out-of-the-box creations, This House by Miryam Charles won Best Feature. (This House also won the poster design contest.) “Maya at 24” by legendary Memphis doc director Lynne Sachs won the Shorts competition, and “Civic” by Dwayne LeBlanc took home the first trophy in a new Mid-Length subcategory.

Sounds, the festival’s long-running music film series, awarded Best Feature to Kumina Queen by Nyasha Laing. The music video awards were won by the stop-motion animated “Vacant Spaces” by Joe Baughman; “Don’t Come Home” by Emily Rooker triumphed in the crowded Hometowner category.

Best Narrative Short went to “Sugar Glass Bottle” by Neo Sora, and Best Documentary Short went to “The Body Is a House of Familiar Rooms” by Eloise Sherrid and Lauryn Welch.

Some of the Special Awards date back to the origin of the festival in 1998, such as the Soul of Southern Film Award, which was taken by Ira McKinley and Bhawin Suchak’s documentary Outta The Muck. The Ron Tibbett Excellence in Filmmaking Award went to Me Little Me by Elizabeth Ayiku. The Craig Brewer Emerging Filmmaker Award went to Eric Younger’s Very Rare.

The IndieGrants program, which awards $15,000 in cash and donations to create short films, picked Anna Cai’s “Bluff City Chinese” and A.D. Smith’s “R.E.G.G.I.N.” out of 46 proposals submitted by Memphis filmmakers.

25th Annual Indie Memphis Film Festival Announces Jury & Festival Awards / Indie Memphis Film Festival

25th Annual Indie Memphis Film Festival Announces Jury & Festival Awards
Indie Memphis Film Festvial
October 23, 2022
https://www.indiememphis.org/news/25th-annual-indie-memphis-film-festival-announces-jury-amp-festival-awards


The 25th Annual Indie Memphis Film Festival Announces 2022 Award-Winners, Including Ellie Foumbi’s Best Narrative Feature OUR FATHER, THE DEVIL and Reed Harkness’ Best Documentary Feature SAM NOW

Indie Memphis Film Festival, presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc. and Duncan Williams Asset Management, is pleased to announce this year’s award-winners. The awards show, sponsored by Eventive, was held in-person in Memphis, as well as online, on the evening of October 22th. The awards were presented by festival staff, as well as members of the awards juries. The 2022 festival screened over 184 feature films, shorts, and music videos, with most screenings followed by in-person filmmaker Q&As. 

Jury Award highlights include Best Narrative Feature for OUR FATHER, THE DEVIL (Dir. Ellie Foumbi, $1K cash prize), Best Documentary Feature for SAM NOW (Dir. Reed Harkness, $1K cash prize), Best Hometowner Feature for THE ‘VOUS (Dir. Jack Lofton’s, $1K cash prize – World Premiere), Best Departures Feature for THIS HOUSE (CETTE MAISON) (Dir. Miryam Charles, $500 cash prize), and Best Sounds Feature for KUMINA QUEEN (Dir. Nyasha Laing, $500 cash prize), among others. 

The festival also awarded two yet-to-be-produced short films with Indie Grant prizes: “Bluff City Chinese” (Dir. Anna Cai) and “R.E.G.G.I.N.” (Dir. A.D. Smith). These films from Memphis-based filmmakers were chosen by a jury and were each awarded with $39K; grant support comprised of $15K cash provided by sponsor Mark Jones and $24K of cash-equivalent rentals and donations provided by sponsors Firefly Grip & Electric, LensRentals, Music + Arts Studio, and VIA. Three winners will each receive grant packages worth $13K.

The Festival Awards, decided by Indie Memphis Festival staff, include the Ron Tibbett Excellence in Filmmaking Award for ME LITTLE ME (Dir. Elizabeth Ayiku) and the Craig Brewer Emerging Filmmaker Award for VERY RARE (Dir. Eric Younger  – World Premiere), among others.

Audience Awards will be announced following the festival.


2022 Indie Memphis Film Festival Jury & Festival Award-Winners

Winners by Category

JURY AWARDS

Narrative Features
Awarded by Jury Members Marlowe Granados, Doreen St. Félix

  • Best Narrative Feature, OUR FATHER, THE DEVIL (Dir. Ellie Foumbi) – $1K Cash Prize
  • Duncan Williams Best Screenplay Award, ACTUAL PEOPLE (Dir. Kit Zauhar) – $1K Cash Prize, sponsored by Duncan Williams, Inc.

Documentary Features
Awarded by Jury Members Brooke Marine, Tara Violet Niami, Tchaiko Omawale; Sponsored by Classic American Hardwoods

  • Best Documentary Feature, SAM NOW (Dir. Reed Harkness) – $1K Cash Prize
  • Special Jury Mention for Revolutionary Cinema, SILENT BEAUTY (Dir. Jasmin Mara López)
  • Special Jury Mention for Transcendent Cinema, OUTTA THE MUCK  (Dir. Ira McKinley, Bhawin Suchak)

Hometowner
Awarded by Jury Members Jessica Chriesman, Brandon Harris, Larry Karaszewski; Sponsored by Tennessee Entertainment Commission

  • Best Hometowner Feature, THE ‘VOUS (Dir. Jack Lofton) – $1K Cash Prize
  • Best Hometowner Narrative Short, “Nordo” (Dir. Kyle Taubken) – $500 Cash Prize
  • Best Hometowner Documentary Short, “What We’ll Never Know” (Dir. Lauren Ready) – $500 Cash Prize

Departures
Awarded by Jury Members Blair McClendon, Ashley Clark, Yasmina Price

  • Best Departures Feature, THIS HOUSE (CETTE MAISON) (Dir. Miryam Charles) – $500 Cash Prize
  • Best Departures Mid-Length Film, “Civic” (Dir. Dwayne LeBlanc)
  • Best Departures Short, “Maya at 24” (Dir. Lynn Sachs)

Sounds
Awarded by Maya Cade, Rōgan Graham, Sydney Urbanek

  • Best Sounds Feature, KUMINA QUEEN (Dir. Nyasha Laing) – $500 Cash Prize
  • Best National Music Video, “Vacant Spaces” (Dir. Joe Baughman)
  • Best Hometowner Music Video, “Don’t Come Home” (Dirs. Emily Rooker & Mitchell Carter)

Shorts
Awarded by Jury Members Laure Bender, Faridah Gbadamosi, Kate Gondwe

  • Best Narrative Short, “Sugar Glass Bottle” (Dir. Neo Sora)  – $500 Cash Prize
  • Best Documentary Short, “The Body is a House of Familiar Rooms” by Eloise Sherrid + Lauryn Welch – $500 Cash Prize

IndieGrants
Awarded by Jury Members Mandy Marcus, Soraya McDonald, Maria Santos; Sponsored by Mark Jones with rentals and donations provided by Firefly Grip & Electric, LensRentals, Music + Arts Studio, and VIA.

  •  “Bluff City Chinese” (Dir. Anna Cai)- $15K Grant ($7.5K cash, $7.5K In-Kind Filmmaking Services)
  • “R.E.G.G.I.N.” (Dir. A.D. Smith) – $15K Grant ($7.5K cash, $7.5K In-Kind Filmmaking Services)

Poster Design
Awarded by Jury Members Brittney Boyd Bullock, Coe Lapossy, Mia Saine

  • THIS HOUSE (CETTE MAISON) (Dir. Miryam Charles)

FESTIVAL AWARDS

Ron Tibbett Excellence in Filmmaking 

  • ME LITTLE ME (Dir. Elizabeth Ayiku)

Craig Brewer Emerging Filmmaker

  • VERY RARE (Dir. Eric Younger)

Soul of Southern Film Award

  • OUTTA THE MUCK by (Dir. Ira McKinley, Bhawin Suchak)

Vision Award

  • Ryan Watt

Indie Award

  • Sallie Sabbatini

Best After Dark Film

  • “Gussy” (Dir. Chris Osborn)

Flowers and Bodies (Departures Shorts) / Indie Memphis Film Festival

Flowers and Bodies (Departures Shorts)
Indie Memphis Film Festival
Screening on October 22, 2022
https://imff22.indiememphis.org/schedule/631e94be3fcb9c0096f815db

WHEN WE ARRIVE AS FLOWERS

Diovanna, a dancer realizes her transfemme identity through a choreographic journey of self-discovery, celebration, and the poetic metaphor of a flower coming to bloom.

MORE DETAILS

Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2022
  • Runtime: 5 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Susan C OBrien
  • Screenwriter: Diovanna LaBeija
  • Producer:Susan O’Brien, Elizabeth Raia, Giselle Byrd, Margaret Montavon

FREE NOIR PAPILLON

A short dance film about a mother’s relationship to her pregnancy, as she deals with fear and hope about bringing a black baby boy into the world in 2020.

MORE DETAILS

Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2022
  • Runtime: 11 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Lev Omelchenko
  • Screenwriter: Lev Omelchenko
  • Producer: Kevin Wall
  • Cinematographer: Amber L. N. Bournett

PANDROG

Pandrog is an exploration of the subversiveness of the gender binary within the confines of Blackness. It is about Black people escaping the terms and identities created by western imperialism.

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Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2022
  • Runtime: 1 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Jard Lerebours
  • Screenwriter: Jard Lerebours
  • Cast: Oluseyifunmi Akinlade
  • Cinematographer: Oluseyifunmi Akinlade

DUE NORTH

A dance film about life, embodiment of the wild.

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Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2022
  • Runtime: 23 minutes
  • Language: No Dialogue
  • Country: Canada
  • Director: Chantal Caron
  • Screenwriter: Chantal Caron
  • Producer: Chantal Caron
  • Cinematographer: Richard Saint-Pierre
  • Editor: Mirenda Ouellet
  • Music: Pierre-Marc Beaudoin, Vivianne Audet

MAY WE KNOW OUR OWN STRENGTH

May We Know Our Own Strength’ is an abstract and expressionistic narrative document centered around artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s similarly-titled piece exploring collective healing after sexual assault within AAPI communities, created tragically in the wake of the Atlanta spa shootings. In the spirit of the installation itself, ‘May We Know Our Own Strength’ recreates the process of trauma, the hurdles of healing, and the strength that can be found in sharing and community.

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Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 6 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Jih-E Peng
  • Producer: Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, Jih-E Peng,
  • Editor: Emily Nine
  • Music: Sugar Vendil

INVENTORY

A living inventory of the body.

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Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 3 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Bailey Plumley

IN BEAUTY IT IS UNFINISHED

A voice creates a meditative portrait of two tropical landscapes-separated by 100 miles of ocean-and two men dancing at twilight; the distance of their bodies both measured and infinite.

MORE DETAILS

Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2022
  • Runtime: 16 minutes
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Greko Sklavounos
  • Screenwriter: Greko Sklavounos
  • Producer: Olivia Lloyd, Ale Marie Odriozola

THE PAST

Two people mourn an unsaid tragedy in this silent play in cinematic narrativity and melodrama, telling an elegiac tale in portraiture.

MORE DETAILS

Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 5 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Rajee Samarasinghe
  • Screenwriter: Rajee Samarasinghe
  • Producer: Rajee Samarasinghe
  • Cast: Paige McGhee, Bobbi Yost

MAYA AT 24

Lynne Sachs films her daughter Maya at 6, 16 and 24. At each iteration, Maya runs around her mother, in a circle – clockwise – as if propelling herself in the same direction as time, forward.

MORE DETAILS

Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 4 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Lynne Sachs
  • Cast: Maya Street-Sachs

AD MELIORA

Ad meliora, or “towards better things” combines hundreds of separate images that create a deep meditation on being, creativity and nature; a mandala of forms that becomes highly symbolic of life, death, yesterday, now, and the next moment. Flowers, plants and textures were photographed in places such as nature conservatories, cultivated gardens, vacant properties and parking lots. The familiar landscape appears molten, luminous and renewed. Ad meliora is suggestive of adaptation, resilience and transformation.

MORE DETAILS

Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 3 minutes
  • Language: No Dialogue
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Katherine Balsley, Irina Escalante-Chernova

BREAST FRIEND

When a girl wakes up from having a breast reduction she receives a letter from her former breast fat tissue.

MORE DETAILS

Showings – select to order tickets:

[Available October 22, 12:01 AM – October 24, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online…

Sat, Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM @ Studio on the Square

  • Year: 2022
  • Runtime: 3 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Country: United States
  • Director: Aysha Wax
  • Screenwriter: Aysha Wax
  • Producer: Sarah Bigle, Elba Flamenco, Casey Graf

Studio on the Square
2105 Court Ave Memphis, TN 38104
October 22, 2022, 1:15 – 3:15 PM CDT
Get directions · More events at venue

A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture / Minizoom Lynne Sachs: Short film curated selection

Minizoom Lynne Sachs: Short film curated selection
A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture
Bratislava, Slovenia
curated by Barbora Nemčeková
June 22, 2022
https://a4.sk/en/events/2022/06/22/minizoom-lynne-sachs-short-film-curated-selection/

Director: Lynne Sachs, ENG + ENG subtitles
Lynne Sachs is an American filmmaker and poet who focuses on documentary and short experimental films, film essays and live performances. Her work often pushes on the boundaries of genre, relying on a feminist approach and an introspective form to explore the complex relationship between personal observation and universal historical experience. She is interested in the implicit connection between body, camera and the materiality of film. She has produced a body of more than 40 films, several installations and hybrid performances. Our selection will feature the short film A Month of Single Frames (2020), which Sachs has made for legendary American experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer and which earned the main prize at last year’s International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, as well as her piece Maya at 24, screened for the ‘Fascinations’ section at Ji.hlava IDFF 2021.

Films screened
Following the Object to its Logical Beginning
The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts
Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor
Month of Single Frames
Maya at 24
Window Work


About us
A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture is an independent cultural centre focusing on contemporary forms of professional theatre, dance, music, film, visual art and new media. Established in 2004 as a result of a joint effort between several civic cultural organisations, it became one of the first cultural centres in Slovakia founded by a bottom-up initiative. Since its beginning, A4 has been a vivid and active location on the Central European cultural scene, an open field for creative experimentation as well as a home for fresh and unique experiences. Besides presenting innovative contemporary art, it actively supports the new creative activities and education. A4 engages in public debate on important social issues, and attempts to foster conditions for non-commercial cultural activities, culturing of public space, urban development, etc.

“Thought, Word, Image: Introduction to Lynne Sachs Retrospective” / Costa Rica International Film Festival


“Thought, Word, Image: Introduction to Lynne Sachs Retrospective”
Costa Rica International Festival of Cinema, 2022
Written by Fernando Chaves Espiniche, Artistic Director
Translated from Spanish by Maria C. Scharron

There are films that seem small but on screen they expand until we are overwhelmed. That is what happens with the images and words that Lynne Sachs pieces together: her films seem fragile, transparent, but they hit us with the force bestowed by the mind behind them.

Since the late 80s, this American artist has been building a group of work that expands and blurs the limits of fiction, documentary and the experimental expressions of cinema art. In more than 40 films, between feature films, short films, performances, web projects and installations, Sachs has demonstrated to be one of the most authentic voices of American experimental cinema. She provokes, challenges, and proposes.  Her movies give the impression of simplicity, which the emotional and intellectual weight betrays. Even when the films are straightforward, they raise deep questions that make them expand beyond their short duration.

But, what does someone like Lynne Sachs have to say about the Costa Rican and Central American context? Although her movies are intimate, Sachs’ films speak about what we call universal themes: home, memory, time, family, and cinema as a device to inquire into everything. It is her modest scale, (and we already mentioned that this should not distract us from her incisive glance), which lead us to think about other ways to approach cinema as producers, critics and spectators. Something is burning in these images of Sachs’, something that motivates us to imagine another way of narrating: the drive to film everything, transforming it all with voice, editing, thought and rhythm.

In Films About a Father Who (2020), which we had the pleasure to show in the 9th Cosa Rica International Festival de Cine, the director dissects her father’s presence with deep empathy and an objective eye. The debris of memory accumulates around a very complex figure. This challenges our understanding of him, but without leaving affection and tenderness behind. Personal history is made of small fragments recorded and filmed throughout the years, an accumulation of interactions and moments that reveal, even through their apparent banality, a compromise with the world and its inhabitants. By putting them together and letting the editing do its work and make them speak, these fragments expose other truths, they open fissures to other intimacies.

Sachs also sketches these family portraits through gestures: in Maya at 24 (2020), her daughter runs around her at ages 6, 16 and 24. Filmed in 16mm, it fuses the emotional landscapes of each age –ages, by the way, that are crucial in a woman’s life–, letting herself be surrounded by love and energy. Lynne is at the center of this gesture: this act also touches and affects her.

We also have to talk about the material nature of film itself, which brings us closer to, we could say, the manual process of transforming those images into a narrative-poem-gesture that summons us and invites us to get involved with these lives. The passage of time is inscribed in these films; the film is affected by light, movement, time and manipulation. Even in digital films we can still feel the presence of the artist’s touch, which is key. Sachs’ works are an invitation to dive deep into the vast archive of images and sounds that we generate, not only to dig into our childhood or hidden stories, but to find ourselves in the process.


It’s weird. With Sachs’ films, we end up feeling like we already know her, that we have talked to her for hours and hours. As in any conversation, one topic leads to another, images repeat, ideas come and go. But as every word turns, another angle reveals itself. In this sense, the power of the minimum inscribes Sachs’ work in a long history of women who have used the moving image as a tool to find themselves, to transform their bodies and their environments and register the beat of a century that learned to see itself through cinema. In Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor (2018), we witness the visits Lynne made to the pioneers of experimental cinema: Carolee Schneeman, Barbara Hammer, and Gunvor Nelson. Visits to the places they called home. They speak about their body and their body of work. They share pieces of their thoughts so we can participate in a different way with their films. Lynne Sachs’ films are an exercise in memory, an expanding memory. From the minimal to the immense, from gesture to revelation. Like glimpses, her movies invite us to be part of a poem: we are just another verse that rhymes with changes of direction, scattered dialogues, the movement of objects and the cuts that link moments that without Lynne’s diligent gaze we would never have found. At CRFIC we are thrilled to present this cinema of what is possible, of what is close. We want to converse with Lynne and her films, and we are fortunate she has opened that door for us.

Translated from the Spanish Original by Maria C. Scharron


“Pensamiento, palabra, imagen” de Fernando Chaves Espinach
Director Artístico, Costa Rica Festival International de Cine

Existe cierta clase de cine que parece pequeño
pero que, en la pantalla, se expande hasta
abrumarnos. Así sucede con las imágenes y
palabras que hilvana Lynne Sachs: parecen películas
frágiles, transparentes, pero nos golpean con
la contundencia que les confiere el profundo
pensamiento que las genera.
Desde finales de los años 80, esta cineasta
estadounidense ha estado construyendo una obra
que expande y confunde los límites de la ficción, el
documental y las expresiones experimentales del
arte cinematográfico. En más de 40 películas,
entre largometrajes y cortometrajes, así como
performances, proyectos web e instalaciones,
Sachs ha demostrado ser una de las voces más
auténticas del cine estadounidense experimental.
Provoca, desafía y propone. Sus películas aparentan
una sencillez que su carga emocional e
intelectual traiciona; incluso cuando son directas,
plantean hondas preguntas que las expanden más
allá de su breve duración.


Pero, ¿qué dice alguien como Lynne Sachs a un
contexto como el costarricense y centroamericano?
Incluso cuando son íntimas, las películas de
Sachs hablan de lo que llamamos temas “universales”:
la casa, la memoria, el tiempo, la familia y el
cine como dispositivo para indagar en todo
aquello. Asimismo, es en su modesta escala, que
como ya hemos dicho, no debe distraer de su
incisiva mirada, que nos mueve a pensar otras
formas de acercarnos al cine como realizadores,
críticos y espectadores. Algo arde en estas imágenes
de Sachs que nos impulsa a imaginarnos otra
forma de contar: es la voluntad de filmarlo todo y
transformarlo con la voz, la edición, el pensamiento,
el ritmo.


En Film About a Father Who (2020), que tuvimosel placer de mostrar en el 9CRFIC, la directoradisecciona la figura de su padre con profundaempatía y una mirada objetiva. Los escombros dela memoria se acumulan en torno a una figuracompleja que nos reta a comprenderlo, sin dejarde lado los momentos de cariño. La historia personalse conforma de pequeños fragmentos grabadosy filmados a lo largo de los años, una acumulaciónde interacciones e instantes que revelan, apesar de su aparente banalidad, un compromisocon el mundo y con sus habitantes. Al unirlos ydejar que la edición les permita hablar en conjunto,los fragmentos emanan otras verdades, abrengrietas a otras intimidades.

Sachs también esboza estos retratos familiarespor medio de los gestos: en Maya at 24 (2020), suhija corre a su alrededor a los 6, 16 y 24 años,filmada en 16mm, fusionando los paisajes emocionalesde cada edad –edades, por otra parte,cruciales en la vida de una mujer–, dejándoserodear por su amor y su energía. Lynne está en elcentro de ese gesto: el acto la trastoca a ellatambién.

Hay que hablar también de la materialidad del
filme mismo, que nos aproxima al proceso manual,
diríamos, de transformar estas imágenes en una
narrativa-poema-gesto que nos convoca y nos
invita a inmiscuirnos en estas vidas. En las películas
está inscrito el paso del tiempo; la cinta se deja
afectar por la luz, el movimiento, las horas y la
manipulación. También en lo digital se nota esta
“mano de la artista”, que es clave. La obra de
Sachs es una invitación a hundir las manos en el
vasto archivo de imágenes y sonidos que generamos,
no solo para excavar momentos de nuestra
niñez o historias ocultas, sino para encontrarnos
en ellas.


Es raro. Con el cine de Lynne Sachs uno siente quela conoce, que ha conversado con ella por largashoras. Como en cualquier charla así, un tema llevaa otro, se repiten imágenes, ideas van y vienen.Pero en cada giro de la palabra, se devela otroángulo posible. En ese sentido, ese poder de lomínimo inscribe la obra de Sachs en una historiaextensa de mujeres que han tomado la imagen enmovimiento como herramienta para encontrarse,transformar su cuerpo y su entorno, y registrar elpulso de un siglo que aprendió a mirarse en el cine. En Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor (2018), vemoslas visitas que Lynne hizo a Carolee Schneeman,Barbara Hammer y Gunvor Nelson, pioneras delcine experimental, en los lugares que han llamadohogar. Hablan de su cuerpo y de su obra. Noscomparten algunas piezas de su pensamientopara que participemos de otro modo en sus películas.

Así, el cine de Lynne Sachs es un ejercicio dememoria, de una memoria que se expande. De lomínimo a lo inmenso, del gesto a la revelación.Como en destellos, sus películas nos invitan aformar parte de un poema: somos un verso más,que rima con los giros, los diálogos sueltos, elmovimiento de los objetos y los cortes que unenmomentos que, sin la mirada acuciosa de Lynne,jamás se hubieran encontrado. En el CRFIC nosilusiona presentar este cine de lo posible y de locercano. Queremos conversar con Lynne y susfilmes, y para nuestra dicha, nos ha abierto lapuerta.

“Thought, Word, Image”
by Fernando Chaves Espinach
Artistic Director, Costa Rica International Film Festival 

Digital506 Announcement of Sachs Retrospective at Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine

Digital506- Costa Rica
May 31, 2022
https://digital506.com/preambulo-inicia-junio-con-las-proyecciones-de-la-retrospectiva-de-lynne-sachs/

ENGLISH TRANSLATION (FROM GOOGLE)

Preamble kicks off June with screenings of the Lynne Sachs Retrospective

Preamble kicks off June with the presentation of the Lynne Sachs Retrospective as a preview of the American filmmaker’s visit to the Costa Rica International Film Festival to be held June 9-18.

To kick off the billboard on Thursday, June 2, starting at 7:00 pm, an exhibition of Film About a Father Who (United States, 2020) .

From 1984 to 2019, Lynne Sachs filmed her father, a lively and innovative businessman. This documentary is the filmmaker’s attempt to understand the networks that connect a girl with her father and a woman with her brothers. The show is for ages 12 and up.

On Friday June 3 starting at 7:00 pm screening of short films. A selection of short films by Lynne Sachs that shows her aesthetic and thematic searches and the experimentation that characterizes a good part of her creations.

The program includes the works: DRAWN AND QUARTERED, STILL LIFE WITH WOMAN AND FOUR OBJECTS, FOLLOWING THE OBJECT TO ITS LOGICAL BEGINNING, THE HOUSE OF SCIENCE: A MUSEUM OF FALSE FACTS, PHOTOGRAPH OF WIND, SAME STREAM TWICE, 2012, CUADRO BY CUADRO , CAROLEE, BARBARA AND GUNVOR, A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES, E•PIS•TO•LAR•Y: LETTER TO JEAN VIGO and MAYA AT 24.

For Saturday, June 4, at 7:00 pm presentation of the documentary Tip of my Tongue . To celebrate her 50th birthday, filmmaker Lynne Sachs brings together other people, men and women, who have lived the exact same years but hail from places like Iran, Cuba, Australia, or the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but not Memphis, Tennessee, where Sachs grew up.

The documentary takes place with all these people discussing the most remarkable, strange and revealing moments of their lives, in a brazen and self-reflective examination of the way events outside our own domestic universe impact who we are.

SPANISH

Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine que se realizará del 9 al 18 de junio.

Para dar inicio a la cartelera el jueves 2 de junio a partir de las 7:00 p.m exhibición de Film About a Father Who (Estados Unidos, 2020).

Desde 1984 hasta 2019, Lynne Sachs filmó a su padre, un animado e innovador hombre de negocios. Este documental es el intento de la cineasta por entender las redes que conectan a una niña con su padre y a una mujer con sus hermanos. La función es para mayores de 12 años.

El viernes 3 de junio a partir de las 7:00 p.m. proyección de cortometrajes. Una selección de cortos de Lynne Sachs que muestra sus búsquedas estéticas, temáticas y la experimentación que caracteriza buena parte de sus creaciones.

La programación incluye las obras: DRAWN AND QUARTERED, STILL LIFE WITH WOMAN AND FOUR OBJECTS, FOLLOWING THE OBJECT TO ITS LOGICAL BEGINNING, THE HOUSE OF SCIENCE: A MUSEUM OF FALSE FACTS, PHOTOGRAPH OF WIND, SAME STREAM TWICE, 2012, CUADRO POR CUADRO, CAROLEE, BARBARA AND GUNVOR, A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES, E•PIS•TO•LAR•Y: LETTER TO JEAN VIGO y MAYA AT 24.

Para el sábado 4 de junio en función de 7:00 p.m. presentación del documental Tip of my Tongue . Para celebrar su cumpleaños 50, la cineasta Lynne Sachs reúne a otras personas, hombres y mujeres, que han vivido exactamente los mismos años pero que provienen de lugares como Irán, Cuba, Australia o el Lower East Side de Manhattan, pero no de Memphis, Tennessee, lugar donde creció Sachs.

El documental transcurre con todas estas personas discutiendo sobre los momentos más destacados, extraños y reveladores de sus vidas, en un examen descarado y autorreflexivo de la forma en que los eventos fuera de nuestro propio universo doméstico impactan quiénes somos.