144 Moody StreetBuilding 18Waltham, MA, United States (map)
A night of short films and discussion with legendary filmmaker Lynne Sachs featuring some of her works on/about/alongside women be they daughters, mentors, idols or friends.
Lynne Sachs will attend in person for a post-screening discussion.
FILM PROGRAM – Screening order subject to change
Photograph of Wind| 4 min | 16mm | b&w and color | silent | 2001 My daughter’s name is Maya. I’ve been told that the word maya means illusion in Hindu philosophy. As I watch her growing up, spinning like a top around me, I realize that her childhood is not something I can grasp but rather – like the wind – something I feel tenderly brushing across my cheek. Screened in 16mm.
Noa, Noa | 8 min | b&w and color | sound | 2006 by Lynne Sachs with Noa Street-Sachs Over the course of three years, Sachs collaborated with her daughter Noa (from 5 to 8 years old), criss-crossing the wooded landscapes of Brooklyn with camera and costumes in hand. Noa’s grand finale is her own rendition of the bluegrass classic “Crawdad Song”.
Same Stream Twice | 4 min | 16mm | b & w and color | silent | 2012 by Lynne Sachs with Maya Street-Sachs My daughter’s name is Maya. I’ve been told that the word maya means illusion in Hindu philosophy. In 2001, I photographed her at six years old, spinning like a top around me. Even then, I realized that her childhood was not something I could grasp but rather – like the wind – something I could feel tenderly brushing across my cheek. Eleven years later, I pull out my 16mm Bolex camera once again and she allows me to film her – different but somehow the same.
“And Then We Marched” | 3 min |S8mm | sound | 2017 Lynne shoots Super 8mm film of the Jan. 21 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and intercuts this recent footage with archival material of early 20th Century Suffragists marching for the right to vote, 1960s antiwar activists and 1970s advocates for the Equal Rights Amendment. Lynne then talks about the experience of marching with her seven-year old neighbor who offers disarmingly insightful observations on the meaning of their shared actions.
Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor | 8 min | Super 8mm and 16mm film transferred to digital | 2018 Three renowned women artists discuss their passion for filmmaking. From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three multi-faceted artists who have embraced the moving image throughout their lives. From Carolee’s 18th Century house in the woods of Upstate New York to Barbara’s West Village studio to Gunvor’s childhood village in Sweden, Lynne shoots film with each woman in the place where she finds grounding and spark.
A Year in Notes and Numbers | 4 min | video | silent | 2018 A year’s worth of to-do lists confronts the unavoidable numbers that are part and parcel of an annual visit to the doctor. The quotidian and the corporeal mingle and mix. Family commitments, errands and artistic effusions trade places with the daunting reality of sugar, cholesterol, and bone.
A Month of Single Frames| 4 min | color | sound | 2019 In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had a one-month artist residency in Cape Cod. While there, she shot 16mm film, recorded sounds and kept a journal. In 2018, Barbara began her own process of dying by revisiting her personal archive. She gave all of her Duneshack materials to Lynne and invited her to make a film. “While editing the film, the words on the screen came to me in a dream. I was really trying to figure out a way to talk to the experience of solitude that Barbara had had, how to be there with her somehow through the time that we would all share together watching her and the film. My text is a confrontation with a somatic cinema that brings us all together in multiple spaces at once.”
Visit to Bernadette Mayer’s Childhood Home| 3 min | 16mm | b&w | sound | 2020 In July 1971, avant-garde writer and language poet Bernadette Mayer produced Memory, a multimedia project in which she shot one roll of 35mm film each day and kept a daily journal. In honor of the project’s compilation and release as a book, Lynne Sachs embarks on a study of the memory and language of place. Journeying to Mayer’s childhood home in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens, Sachs pays homage to Mayer in a collage of architecture, light, and rhythm.
Maya at 24| 4 min | 16mm | b&w | sound | 2021 with editing and animation by Rebecca Shapass music by Kevin T. Allen Lynne Sachs films her daughter Maya in 16mm black and white film, at ages 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. Conscious of the strange simultaneous temporal landscape that only film can convey, we watch Maya in motion at each distinct age.
Total Running Time: 42 min.
Doors open at 6:30PM – Show at 7:00PM Seating is first-come, first served. Admission is free, however a $5-10 suggested donation is encouraged. Donations will be split between the guest artist and AgX. Donations help support future film programming at AgX.
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.
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.
– The retrospective category has been dedicated to the American filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs –
Displaying independent films from 37 countries and in 15 different languages, the tenth edition of the Costa Rica International Film Festival begins on Thursday.
According to the Ministry of Culture, the festival will take place in two parts. First from June 9 to 18 and then from June 29 to Aug. 26.
The categories of the festival include retrospective films, panorama, young people and pioneers of cinema, among others.
The retrospective category has been dedicated to the American filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs, who has made 37 films, some of which have won awards or have been included in retrospectives at major festivals.
Sachs’s 2019 film, “A Month of Single Frames,” made with and for Barbara Hammer, won the Grand Prize at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen in 2020.
In 2021, both the Edison Film Festival and the Prismatic Ground Film Festival at the Maysles Documentary Center awarded Sachs for her body of work in the experimental and documentary fields.
Last year the Festival displayed “Film About a Father Who” (2020), directed by Sachs, which is defined as “a poignant and moving film,” by Fernando Chaves-Espinach, director of the festival. “(Sachs) mixes fiction, documentary, experimental film, performance among others,” he said.
“Sachs demonstrates the energy of contemporary cinema and the multiple forms that this art takes, from an intimate and reflective perspective that dialogues with certain forms of filmmaking in our context,” Chaves said.
The festival will be held in several movie theaters in San José, as well as in different communities of the country in rural areas so that more people can enjoy the event, the ministry said.
In San José, the films will be shown at Cine Magaly, the Film Center of the Ministry of Culture and the French Alliance of the France Embassy in Costa Rica.
In rural areas, the festival will be presented at the CCM movie theaters, located in San Ramón and San Carlos in Alajuela Province, in Jacó Beach in Puntarenas Province.
Also, CitiCinemas movie theaters in rural areas will present the festival in Grecia in Alajuela Province, Limón City in Limón Province and Paso Canoas in Puntarenas Province.
In addition, the festival will be presented at Multiplexes in Liberia, Guanacaste Province.
The jury is made up of directors, producers and people of the film industry from Costa Rica and other places such as Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, Colombia, the Basque Country, Germany and Hungary.
The festival will award three mail films for their formal quality and content. In addition, the winning films will receive about $11,000 in prizes in the categories such as Best National Short; Best Costa Rican Feature Film, Best Central American and Caribbean Feature Film, among others.
The American filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs will be the dedicatee of the tenth edition of the Costa Rica International Film Festival (CRFIC10), which will take place from June 9 to 18.
Sachs will visit the country during the festival, as he will be honored in the Retrospective section with a sample of 14 films of his authorship , characterized by a poetic, intimate, experimental and reflective tone with very personal themes.
The Sachs retrospective is made up of the films Epistolary: Letter to Jean Vigo (2021), Maya at 24 (2021); Film About a Father Who (2020) , Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor (2018), Tip of my Tongue (2017), Same Stream Twice (2012), With the Wind in Her Hair (2010), Frame by Frame (2009), Photograph of The Wind (2001), The House of Silence: A Museum of False Facts (1991), Drawn and Quartered (1987), Following the Object to It’s Logical Beginning (1987), and Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986).
According to the artistic director of the festival, Fernando Chaves Espinach , “We are interested in Lynne Sachs’s visit because with her films, made with few resources, she tells us about a very particular form of expression that seems relevant to our context. We are proud to present different ways of making cinema and, above all, to share it in a workshop with filmmakers and visual artists who can learn from his methodology and his approaches to cinematographic art”.
In addition to the presentation of his works, the festival has scheduled that Sachs give a face-to-face tutorial to a group of people linked to Costa Rican cinematography.
The main venue for the 10CRFIC will be the Cine Magaly and it will have three more screening rooms in the capital of San José and five outside the Greater Metropolitan Area: San Ramón, San Carlos, Jacó, Grecia, Limón and Paso Canoas.
Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine rinde homenaje a la cineasta Lynne Sachs
La cineasta y poeta estadounidense Lynne Sachs será la dedicada de la décima edición del Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine (CRFIC10), que se llevará a cabo del 9 al 18 de junio.
Sachs visitará el país durante el festival, pues se le rendirá homenaje en la sección Retrospectiva con una muestra de 14 películas de su autoría, caracterizadas por un tono poético, intimista, experimental y reflexivo con temáticas muy personales.
La retrospectiva a Sachs está constituida por los filmes Epistolary: Letter to Jean Vigo (2021), Maya at 24 (2021); Film About a Father Who (2020), Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor (2018), Tip of my Tongue (2017), Same Stream Twice (2012), Con el viento en el pelo (2010), Cuadro por cuadro (2009), Photograph of The Wind (2001), The House of Silence: A Museum of False Facts (1991), Drawn and Quartered (1987), Following the Object to It’s Logical Beginning (1987) y Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986).
De acuerdo con el director artístico del festival, Fernando Chaves Espinach,“Nos interesa la visita de Lynne Sachs porque con su cine, hecho con pocos recursos, nos habla de una forma de expresión muy particular que nos parece relevante para nuestro contexto. Nos enorgullece presentar distintas maneras de hacer cine y, sobre todo, compartirlo en un taller con cineastas y artistas visuales que pueden aprender de su metodología y sus acercamientos al arte cinematográfico”.
Además de la presentación de sus obras, el festival ha programado que Sachs imparta una tutoría presencial a un grupo de personas vinculadas con la cinematografía costarricense.
La sede principal del 10CRFIC será el Cine Magaly y contará con tres salas de proyección más en la capital de San José y cinco fuera de la Gran Área Metropolitana: San Ramón, San Carlos, Jacó, Grecia, Limón y Paso Canoas.
Figuring out the unique grammar of your life can be difficult. People, situations, can give us question marks with no answers and ellipses that lead to nothing. Lynne Sachs, a Memphis-born experimental filmmaker, attempted to answer some of these questions in her own life with the 2020 documentary, Film About a Father Who. She offers an in-depth look at her father and titular character.
Ira Sachs Sr. is an enigmatic hotelier out of Park City, Utah, with an unmissable mustache and a penchant for colorful button-ups. His approach to love parallels in eccentricity. He despises loving like a “swan,” the idea of mating with a single soulmate for life. Sachs Sr. chose instead to surround himself with a steady flow of young women and went on to marry—and divorce—a number of them. Many of Lynne Sachs’ childhood peers were enamored by the bravado and Hefner-esque life her father led. But this way of life caused tension at times with those closest to him, to say the absolute least.
Beginning in 1984, Lynne Sachs chronicled moments in Sachs Sr.’s life for thirty-five years and those in his mother’s, ex-wives’, children’s, and others close to him. Her mission was to elucidate his tucked-away interior life, not just to an audience but to herself. Two years after the release of the film and two years younger than when Sachs began this project, I got to speak with her about it and her greater body of work. Sachs gave a lecture at Sarah Lawrence in the fall of 2021—for those who took Tanya Goldman’s “Experimental Documentary”course. I sat in my apartment in upstate New York and called Sachs, who was in a hotel room in Paris. She’d left her Brooklyn home for a few weeks to attend a screening of her work. In our hours of conversation, what stuck with me the most was what she said about the image above. Sachs stated that it is “the most important in all of Film About a Father Who.” A scene that wasn’t even filmed by Sachs, instead by her father. It’s a tranquil look at three of her siblings as children playing in a creek. For a film that follows a bon vivant and his unorthodox lifestyle, I was taken aback that this scene was the most important.
The scene occurs once in each of the three acts, all different segments of the same shot. Why? Well, it’s part of what makes this film, like each of her films, have a unique “feeling”—or “grammar”—to them. “Grammar,” as a metaphor, is illustrated in another wonderful scene in act one. I told her,
I really loved that scene in Film About A Father Who.
In it, Sachs, her brother, and her sister sit on her childhood bed talking
about how [your father] doesn’t have a grammar and your mother does when you’re living with each of them. Do you feel that your work as a filmmaker has some sort of grammar behind it? Or is it just question marks when you go into each project?
I think that what really, really distinguishes an experimental film from a more conventional film, whether you’re talking about a documentary or a narrative or any other form, is a refusal to embrace a formula around grammar or a template—the grammar of cinema. Because people say things like, “well, a great documentary is character-driven,” or they say “you can’t break the 180-degree rule when you’re shooting,” or you must have the exposition sort of identified and articulated in a narrative film by fifteen minutes in.
There’s all these rules about the shape of things. The way shot-reverse-shot insinuates that two people are in the same room and doing things simultaneously. If you know about making films, you know that they’re probably not, but it relies on an assumption on the part of the audience that the grammar of the film will be accessible and key to that—key is familiar.
So then you jump over to something that is more playful, experimental, distinctive in terms of each work, having its own cosmos. And you think that the audience at first might be a little disoriented because the audience doesn’t understand its distinctive grammar, but through the shaping, evolution of the film, the audience starts to register how meaning is constructed. And I think that’s really exciting. And I think that is an opportunity to constantly reinvent how you work with the medium of film. When I hear about someone who says, “well, I bought this software that helps you to write your screenplays, it comes with a template.”
I think, okay, if it comes with a template, then you are going to construct time in a certain kind of way. You’re going to create your characters in a, probably, formulaic way. So I’m scared of that kind of stuff. I think it’s problematic. So, then you asked that in relationship to Film About a Father Who, and I think that every family has its own grammar as well and that the grammar is significant because it guides you in terms of how you relate to people of different generations or new members of your family. It has to do with how transparent you are. What it means to do something like tell a lie, or what is a white lie? How many different people in your family do you tell white lies to, to protect them?
What does a white lie really mean? People either withhold information or you shift information because you think the truth is going to be complicated or intimidating or painful. So you were asking about the punctuation marks—are my films question marks? I do actually like when people leave my films, asking questions of themselves or questions of society or questions more ontologically about how we construct meaning. I like that. I think that’s an opportunity for being changed by a work of art. Or perhaps being just slightly shifted by it.
There was kind of a shift at the end of the film when you bring in your sister—the one that had been removed from you for so long. A lot of stories about your father- there’s some sort of way you and your other siblings in your minds might have justified them a lot of times, but in that one, there’s no justification for what happened.
Sachs’ half-sister went on a pre-college trip with a best friend from high school, staying in a ski lodge with Sachs Sr. At the end of the vacation, her best friend announced that she had fallen for and would continue to live with her father.
I felt like that really changed the perception of the film.
Sometimes we do that with things that upset us. We create justification in order to move forward, but then it keeps gnawing at us. So if we finally come to terms with our own anguish with the recognition that the reality is not what we want it to be, but it is there and that we can’t make any more excuses for it. Then I think it’s like a cathartic experience, even if it is difficult.
Also what I loved about that film is I felt you’re really comfortable not only behind the camera but also in front. Your  short film, Drawn and Quartered, you talked about how you at first edited out your face because you were so embarrassed [to show yourself nude], but then you ultimately decided to put it back in. And I felt like that was a moment of growth?
In English, we say, “oh, don’t you feel exposed.” We the word exposed on a physical level, and we use it on a psychological level.
So at that point, I was not very secure with showing my body, and I felt vulnerable and I felt too observed. But then later I made a film called the The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts, and I take my clothes off a little, other people do too—it’s a lot about the body.
But what was more of an exposed feeling was the writing. The idea of that you write about things that go on in your body and the grit of it all, the pus, the urine, and all those things. But the thing is, by exposing that, you’re actually saying I’m just like everybody else.I’m a woman. My body’s like all the other women; we’re just shaped a little different. It’s when you open up and expose the narrative of your life and all the compromises that come with that–that’s even more revealing. So there’s all these layers of what it means to be exposed.
As you’ve made films throughout your career, have you felt you’ve been able to be more comfortable [in front of the camera], or was this something from the beginning you felt—
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, definitely not. Sometimes I go back — not that I do this very much — and look at my progress reports from elementary school. And my teachers would say, “Lynne is a good student, but she’s so shy.” I wasn’t a very forthright child. I wasn’t the first person to raise their hand, you know, in those situations. But I think it’s come to me, and I think part of it is, let’s say, making a film like Film About a Father Who. I was so profoundly nervous about making this film.
It’s not just because I was exposing myself to you or to anyone else in the audience, but I was exposing myself, my life to myself. Does that make sense? I’ve never explored this word in this way. You are really making me think! Like I was saying, “Hey, this is really how it is,” because you can get very wrapped up in the day-to-day activities of your life and not really allow yourself to think in an analytical way, an emotional way about how, how you’ve lived your life. And so the film gave me that chance. I realized as I was making Film About a Father Who that two things happen when you’re interviewing and when you’re trying to write.
If I’m talking to one of my siblings and I’m asking them to tell me about how they feel about something, they’re looking to me, and I’m saying, “yes, yes,” and I’m nodding, and I’m affirming as if that’ll fit perfectly into my edit, you know, [like] that’s exactly what I needed. So I found that if we went together into a very dark place, like a closet, there wasn’t that constant affirmation and perhaps, manipulation. So that’s one thing. But then the other thing had to do with the writing and the construction of a voiceover or narration was that I kept censoring myself. So I used a method that has really proven to be super helpful. That was to just record my thoughts in this kind of unfiltered way and then to send it to a transcription service. And then you come back, and you have 20 pages of text. That was how I did it since I kept writing in my moleskin diary and scratching it all out.
I know you got your start with feminist filmmaking.Seeing Film About a Father Who, I wondered was there any sort of [internal] conflict?
I was actually editing Film About a Father Who during the Me Too movement. So I was cognizant of the fact that I was talking about a man who led a life, well, he’s still alive, in which he had a certain kind of power over different women in his life. Maybe not in the workplace, but you know, in his personal life. And I knew that there were contradictions, but I felt that I was not only making it as a feminist but also as a daughter. You look at your parents as role models, but you also look at your parents for ways to be completely different.
They’re your first models of how to exist in the world and for how to define what their sexuality is—how they define the meaning of their gender. And so either you adhere to that, or you move away. And for example, in Film About a Father Who, I think my brothers were all positioning themselves in very different ways in terms of their own identity as men. I think that they were confronting those things in just as complicated ways as we as daughters were. I mean, my brother Ira said he thinks the gist of the whole movie is a kind of search for a new or refined definition for masculinity in the 2020s.
So I was trying to deal with that all the time to move between my rage at my dad, but also my attempt to forgive him or to recognize his flaws.
I also found it interesting that from the beginning of your career, you started filming people in a unique way, compared to traditional documentarians that do shot-reverse-shot and have them look at a certain place. Whereas I feel like a lot of people that you film will look right at the camera or look right at you. How did you even think to do that? Break that rule.
Oh, you really picked up on something. That happened particularly in a film called Investigation of a Flame
(a 2001 documentary by Sachs that illuminates the story of the Catonsville Nine, who were Catholic activists in 1968 who peacefully yet poignantly burned draft files to protest the Vietnam War.)
When I was shooting that film, most of it, not all of it, I shot by myself. I was shooting it, but I was also using it as an opportunity to get to know these incredible anti-war activists, people who had been fighting the fight—the good fight. And even breaking the law in an absolutely nonviolent way as a statement against the Vietnam war. So I was on my way to interviewing someone near Boston. And a friend of mine who worked for National Geographic [said to me], “How are you going to shoot that by yourself? Because where will they look?” But that’s part of a grammar, that conceit, that idea that you have to look like three-quarters off. I think it was Errol Morris, the documentary filmmaker, who came up with a camera which he reconfigured so that people could simultaneously look at him while he was shooting and appear to be looking off at something. He invented some form of refraction to kind of work against that formula for setting up a relationship that isn’t about that the director controlling—[even though] we know the director is controlling. I mean, one of my very favorite places to do interviews is in the car because I think when people look off at a horizon line, even if the car isn’t moving, they become very introspective. Have you ever noticed all the deep conversations you might’ve had in a car?
Yeah. No, I never thought about that. There must be something with like the horizon—
The horizon, the sort of hermetic solitude—removed from the rest of the world but not really. You’re not in a silent chamber. You’re actually watching the world go by. But people become very— what’s the word? Meditative.
I definitely remember you having a couple of interviews where a person is looking out a window, looking outside.
I’ve been criticized for that. Oh my God. I had an interview in Investigation of a Flame where I’m interviewing this man. And then I look out the window— the camera looks out the window. And a lot of people were surprised that I kept that. They said, “why didn’t you just put in ‘B-roll’?” But I actually hate the term B-roll. I can’t stand it. It’s so disrespectful of the image, but also, I wanted the shot to convey that I was listening to him. I mean, I thought it was honest. I was listening to this man so intensely that I needed to not look at him. I needed to take in what he was saying.
I think that’s so interesting that you hate that term “B-roll.” Because I definitely feel like for a lot of your films, what makes them so good is that you have like an eye for beauty in all moments. No moment is B-roll.
I think that I said it was “disrespectful to the image,” but it actually doesn’t allow for the dialogue or the voiceover to have multiple layers of meaning. It just provides a little bit of distraction. I mean, I would say if the idea of B-roll, as in filler, is all you can do, just put in black.
The attention to dialogue is evident in each of Sachs’ films. Her 2013 documentary, Your Day is My Night, documents the lives of Chinese immigrants living in Manhattan’s Chinatown. In a scene where a middle-aged man gives another a back massage, he apologizes for bringing trashed mattresses into their shared living space. He likes to clean them and give them back to people in need. Sachs cut back and forth from a close-up of his hands gingerly rubbing the other’s back to a close-up of his face as he speaks, the window reflecting in his glasses. The audible rhythm of the massage combined with the focus on the scene presented—no, B-roll—makes it feel immersive. It made me linger on every word, every sound.
Sachs cares greatly about the spoken word but also the written. Many of her films intersect both of these mediums. Her 2020 abstract short film, Girl is Presence, silently follows her daughter arranging items from shark teeth to film strips while a poem is recited as a voiceover. For this short, she collaborated with poet Anne Lesley Selcer. I thought it was intriguing that Sachs, being a documentarian who tend to concern themselves with prose-oriented storytelling, has such a strong interest in poetry. Though, it is not surprising because Sachs herself is a poet. In 2019, her first book was published, Year by Year Poems (Tender Buttons Press) which inspired her 2017 documentary Tip of My Tongue.
I know you write poetry as well.
Yeah, I think there’s an interesting intersection between film and poetry that isn’t just about two different disciplines coming together, but it’s a way of listening. So poetry is like a confrontation with or a disruption of more conventional ways of constructing meaning, of organizing sentences. Poetry asks you to think in more associative ways and in speculative ways and redefines words you thought you knew. It asks you to listen in this kind of super-engaged way. And I also like that poetry thinks about the words in collision with each other and overlapping each other like the songs of words and even the fact that we break lines based on sound and based on rhythm, which is not how prose works. And that’s also how I like to edit, for example, dialogue in my films. I like to think about the ways that things are iterated, not just a cause and effect. Like I say this, and then you say that, and then I say this back to you. So I think poetry pushes you to engage with the oral experience in really revealing ways. I have recently, like in the last four or five years, integrated poetry more and more into my own film work, like with “Tip of My Tongue.” Then I made quite a few films in collaboration with other poets, like Bernadette Mayer or Paolo Javier.
Watching your films, I felt like there was a unique flow to the dialogue a lot of times.
One thing that’s been helpful over the years is I often shoot images separate from recording sound. So when you shoot what we call video image or digital, it’s like the sound and the picture usually, as they say, it sounds so terrible, [are] “married.” So you get the image, and you get the sound, and people tend to privilege the hearing of clear, clean sound in order to convey information. But if you let that go, you can allow dialogue to transform into sound effect. Like in conventional filmmaking, you have a track which is dialogue, a track which is effects, and a track which is music. But if you think of it all as an opportunity for dialogue to become music or for a sound effect to register almost like voice, then you start to get surprises that I think are super interesting.
That just reminded me of like- I love that opening of The Washing Society, where it was cutting to different [exteriors of] laundromats [around New York City]. I just remember watching that, and, you know, I had the volume turned up. And I felt like each laundromat, each area, had its unique sounds to it and really flowed into each one quite nicely, but then became distinct.
Thank you for saying that. In that film and about five others, I’ve worked really closely with Stephen Vitiello, who’s a wonderful sound artist and performer. We started working together on Your Day is My Night in 2013. Then he worked with me on Tip of My Tongue , Drift and Bow and Film About a Father Who. I’ll send him sounds from laundromats, then he’ll send me back musical pieces, and they’re usually much longer than the image. So then I have to find more image. And so it’s really like a back and forth the whole time. It’s never simply that he just creates the music track.
That’s the main methodology [for] him making music for your films? You’ll send him soundbites, and he’ll send you music?
Sort of. A lot of times, I’ll send him an image, and then he’ll come up with something, or he’ll say, “listen, [I] sent you all these sounds I made.” He also uses instruments. Sometimes he’ll hire a clarinet player, and then they’ll make these longer pieces, and then I love the piece so much that I think I have to meet him with more image. For me, the places where we have his music are very evocative and also places for thinking so that my films aren’t too much dialogue. I call them a sound vessels so that you can be in this place of resonance without exposition or information or anything like that, listening in a more relational way.
So, sometimes he’ll send you music, and you’ll actually respond by filming more?
Yeah. Yeah, sometimes.
I think that’s awesome.
It’s a lot of pressure, but I try to rise to the occasion.
I think in that way it makes the films breathe a little more, you know, so that you have some kind of scene where you have all this activity and energy and conversation, and then you have, a time that’s more sort of more cerebral. It’s not like a rest time. In fact, I think the audience has to kind of work with what they’ve just experienced in the previous scenes. That’s what I think happens in those sections.
Also, I see that you’re very interested in the ephemeral with a lot of your work. I’m wondering, for something as permanent a medium as film is, what is your interest in that?
Hmm, that’s really a lovely question. So, I guess I explored that most… I’m going to think about a couple of films, but I don’t know if you’ve seen them. Did you see Maya at 24?
Maya at 24 is a four-minute short film she released in 2021, which captures her daughter, Maya, at ages 6, 16, and the titular, 24. It’s comprised almost entirely of three paralleled scenes of Maya running in circles around a camera at each of those ages. Sachs shot it in black and white film on her 16mm Bolex.
So I was thinking about this while my daughter was spinning around me and then later as I was watching those moments on film. There on the screen are aspects of her that are no more—like I can’t touch anymore, that I can’t access anymore. But film itself can remind me; it’s almost like saying film is the antidote to the ephemeral? It’s sort of saying, “well, nothing is ephemeral because we can contain it and put it in our computer or put it in a can,” but yet it is also constantly reminding us that it no longer is. Did you see a Month of Single Frames?
No, but that’s the one about Barbara Hammer?
Yeah. You know, Barbara Hammer’s work?
A little bit. I’m not too knowledgeable of her, though.
Well, she was definitely a mentor of mine and a dear friend—she was never a teacher—but I admired her. She was exactly the same age as my mom is, and she was a powerhouse, “lesbian, experimental filmmaker,” that’s what she called herself. And when she was dying, a year before that, she asked me and some other people to make films with materials she had never been able to finish. And so the film that we made, which is a Month of Single Frames, or that I made in homage to her, is also about the ephemeral because it’s a recognition of the mortal coil as well as the changing landscape that you’ll see in the film. The landscape is- has- will always change. So it’s only there to hold onto and to touch in that exact moment. It’s like the Heraclitus, you know, “you can’t step in the same [stream] twice.” And so, it is always passing us by. I’m working on a new film now called Every Contact Leaves a Trace. It’s about people who’ve left imprints on me, but that expression comes from a forensic study. That if you come into my home or space and you take something from me, you leave something of yourself, a residue. So I’m interested in that. What happens when a tangible, touch-based experience is investigated, which is sort of like, how do we confront the ephemeral?
So for that film, Every Contact Leaves a Trace. Are you trying to take like a neutral stance and pull in people that have had any sort of contact with you—negative or positive?
I actually only have a pool of 550 people.
That’s a lot, though.
But I’m not using all of them. No, I’m not. They are people who, at one point, gave me a card. We had a haptic intersection. It could be a doctor. It could be someone from like a hardware store. I have both of those types of people. I met a man on the border between the United States and Mexico, right in Tijuana. We met for about an hour. He gave me his card. So, I’m actually constructing scenarios in my mind about those. Yeah, it’s kind of similar; you said “ephemeral.” It’s like a passing in the night. That man left something with me. Maybe I left something with him. I don’t know. That happened in 2014, but I have these cards going back all the way to the ’90s. I’m interested in not so much the trajectory of their lives but in the detritus of the moment. I might do kind of playful reenactments. I’m not quite sure.
Like Lynne Sachs’ use of business cards to recall moments with strangers, near the end of the interview, I brought out stills from her films to recall scenes. The image I brought for Film About a Father Whowas one of my favorites, but the one I had the most trouble understanding. It’s the image you have seen twice thus far—Sachs’ siblings playing in a creek. I was first drawn to it by the use of color and light. Then, when I noticed she repeated it across the film it made me believe it had to hold more significance than I understood. Though, I was not prepared for how important. I said to her,
I noticed that you repeated this image in Film About a Father Who.
Oh, thank you. Okay. I love that you brought that up. What happens in Film About a Father Who is that I have a seven-minute shot that my dad recorded with his own camera. So it’s the world and his children perceived by him. In many films that one makes, you talk to people, and they tell you exactly how they feel about things. But that was really a challenge for me with my father. So, to see the world through his lens, through his eyes, was such an opportunity for me to think about the positive things that he brought to his children. I had that material, and at first, I absolutely dismissed it because it had been completely degraded by time, by the weather, by the fact that the material had been in a garage for decades. Then I looked at it again, and I realized it was the most important image in all of Film About a Father Who. Because it has this compassion, but also as an image, it’s like the classical golden triangle. It’s constructed graphically like what you’re taught in design school or in drawing class—to create this perpetual motion inward towards the center through a triangle. And so, I was interested in using that as a marker three times in the film, but it’s not exactly the same shot. It’s different parts of the same seven-minute shot. Each time you, as the viewer, have a different level of engagement. The first time the children are sort of archetypal children playing in the water. The second time you know that they’ve grown up and you’ve seen them in other places, and you’re able to have a kind of comprehensive understanding of life live; they have become thinking, engaged adults. The third time that you see it, you bring a kind of gravitas. Like these people have been through some pain. They have wisdom; they have interesting and complex interactions. So I’m interested personally in how you change as viewer because each time you see that frame, you are slightly more knowing. By the end, you’re almost omniscient, but in the beginning, you’re just engaging with it as material image.
That was so profound. I absolutely love that explanation.
It was really a reversal because I was so dismissive of that shot, and then I was so enthralled by it. There’s one other shot in Film About a Father Who that’s kind of like that. At the very end, there’s this static-y black and white shot where you only see the silhouette of my father, and he’s going off towards the horizon line. It probably was at the end of a tape and was damaged in some way. But I liked that it was pared down to these high contrasts blacks and whites, and that was it. It is my father, but it could become your father or anyone in your life you’re trying to hold onto.
You can find many of Lynne Sachs’s films on the Criterion Channel, Fandor, DAFilms and Ovid:
Lynne Sachs is one of our most dynamic filmmakers and poets. Her captivating work is a medley of documentaries, essay films, hybrid live performances, and experimental shorts. With her use of vivid visuals and intricate sound, Sachs eagerly pushes formal boundaries. She crafts transfixing and intimate moving images that draw from her own emotional and social experiences — often through a feminist lens. For Women’s History Month, Fandor celebrates this fascinating female filmmaker and her insightful cinematic achievements.
Can you tell me a bit about your background and what led you to filmmaking?
Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, it never occurred to me to be a filmmaker. In fact, that wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary. I knew about movie directors and movie stars. I thoroughly enjoyed the occasional European art film I might see on TV or on a Saturday matinée at a community center. Then I discovered the brazen, irreverent, raw, improvised vision of Rainer Fassbinder and the internal, austere feminism of Chantal Ackerman. From that time on, I knew I wanted to make films.
Was there a particular moment or film that inspired you to become a filmmaker?
When I was a senior in high school in Memphis, Tennessee, I was able to see the films of Reverend L.O. Taylor, a Black minister, and filmmaker with an overwhelming interest in preserving the social and cultural fabric of his own community in the 1930s and ’40s. I spent that summer carrying a projector and stacks of Taylor’s films around to churches in Memphis where a group of us would ask small audiences to help us to identify the people in the films. I was transfixed by this man’s work that ten years later when I too had decided to make films, I returned to Memphis to make Sermons Sacred Pictures (29 min., 1989, streaming on Fandor) on his life and work.
Seeing French filmmaker Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil was equally transformative for me. This feature-length early 80’s essay film entered my soul. I immediately connected to its delicate mode of engaging with other cultures, its self-reflexive intensity, its compassion, its humor, and its unabashed doubt. Marker shot the film himself, so every frame reflects his vision, the way he saw and framed the world at a certain point in his own life. I hadn’t known that this was even possible until I saw Sans Soleil.
What is special to you about shooting on film and do you feel something is lost in everyone’s transition to digital?
I see light differently when I am shooting with film. When I was making Which Way is East (30 min. 16mm, color, 1994, streaming on Fandor), I traveled through Vietnam for one month carrying my Bolex camera and only 40 minutes of 16mm film stock. I had to wait for the light to find me in just the right way, simply because I could not waste a single frame. By imposing this kind of cinematic awareness and discipline on myself, I learned to make each shot matter.
I learned to engage with the medium’s ability to witness and express through knowledge of the lens and the celluloid. I have tried to imbue my filmmaking practice with this kind of awareness ever since. I don’t think I have yet accomplished this level of intimacy with my digital camera but I certainly try. I still never “overshoot”, and find that less material with more striking images still works best for me.
After the 20th anniversary of September 11th, how do you feel looking back at your film Tornado?
Tornado was very much made in the moment of September 11. I shot this film the day after the attack on the Twin Towers. Now we have so much knowledge of what it was all about, but at that moment those of us here in New York City were full of fear and confusion. My two daughters were six and four years old on that day. I made this film to help me work through their relationship to the towers, which they perceived as human beings. Their impulse as children was, surprisingly, to anthropomorphize the buildings themselves. They simply could not comprehend the real number of deaths. How could they imagine thousands of people’s lives, over, gone?
In the film, you simply see me filming my hands rummaging through pages from a desktop calendar that had blown from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn that day. It was so eerie, so tactile, so immediate. Now 20 years later, I have perspective, an awareness of the whole history, but I also still feel deep sadness and loss.
Sound design plays a significant part in Tornado (the sounds of the bustling city, the crinkling of the paper, etc.) How do you approach sound design in your work?
Thank you for your sensitivity to the aural aspect of Tornado (3 min. 2002). While I do make feature-length films, this is one of my shortest, one of the films I made most quickly. It reflects the sensation of being alive right after a national crisis. There were still ashes blowing in the air, and yet you see teenagers riding on skateboards and older Italian-American men playing cards in the park. The sound gives an audience the chance to connect to this attempt by all of us to reconnect with what we perceived as normalcy. Over the last two years, I have referred to the pandemic as daunting now. The days right after 9/11 felt very similar.
Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning is a clever subversion of the male gaze. Can you talk about your inspiration for the film as well as the meaning of the title?
You are very observant! During the time that I was making Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning (9 min., 1987, 16mm), I was in a women’s reading group where we were drinking a lot of tea and wine and devouring texts by Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. You probably won’t be surprised that I had just discovered Laura Mulvey’s essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema at that time. I do believe that she was the first person to develop a theory of the male gaze. I needed to explore that in my own work, so that is exactly what I did in this film.
Still Life with Woman and Four Objects is your tribute to the anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman. It reminded me of Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman. I was wondering how feminism overall has impacted your filmmaking?
Bingo! As I mentioned earlier, Ackerman’s work was and is extremely important to me. Her depiction of a woman trapped by the domestic responsibilities of a single mother trying to make a go of it was a revelation to me. I never thought of it before, but my Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (4 min., 1987, 16mm) image of a woman sitting at a table eating and slicing her food probably came right from my witnessing of Jeanne Dielman’s real-time preparation of a meal, in all it is protracted and aesthetically devised labor. Thirty years later, I was equally inspired by this film in the making of The Washing Society (co-directed with Lizzie Olesker, 45 min., 2018) which is not only streaming on Fandor but also supported by it during our production.
A Biography of Lilith combines Jewish folklore, interviews, music, and poetry. Can you talk about the process of incorporating so many different art forms and inspirations into your film?
Sometimes making my films gives me a great excuse to immerse myself in research and to see how all of the reading I do will influence my creative process. When I first heard the story of Lilith, I was shocked and thrilled to discover that this mythological figure from Jewish mysticism was born from the dirt, not Adam’s rib like Eve later would be. She became his first wife but was then thrown out of the Garden of Eden for wanting to be on top in sex.
I was captivated by this story and all of the folklore that came with it, especially since new mothers were historically told to be afraid of Lilith. She was too willful and aware of her sexuality, which was exactly what attracted me. I discovered Lilith when I was pregnant with my first daughter and finished the film right after I gave birth to my second. My film Biography of Lilith (1997, 35 min. 16mm) is a reflection of all the awe, fear, frustration, and excitement that was part of this experience.
That film is a meditation on your role as a mother. How does motherhood, as well as your perspective as a woman, inform your filmmaking? And vice-versa, how does being a filmmaker impact how view yourself as a mother?
My two daughters Maya Street-Sachs (b. 1995) and Noa Street-Sachs (b. 1997) entered my life as an artist before they were even born through the making of Biography of Lilith. I have made numerous films with them, including Photograph of Wind (3 min. 2001), Noa, Noa (8 min., 2006), The Last Happy Day (37. Min., 2009), and Wind in Our Hair (45 min., 2010) which are all streaming on Fandor. Our daughters enjoy performing and engaging with my filmmaking, or at least this is what they have told me. By integrating my daughters into my life as an artist, I was able to engage with them both creatively and intellectually throughout their childhood.
Do you have any other projects on the horizon?
I certainly do! For most of my adult life, I’ve collected and saved over 550 small business cards that people have given me – from professional conferences to doctors’ appointments, from film festivals to hardware stores, from art galleries to human rights centers. In these places, I’ve met and engaged with hundreds of people over a period of four decades, and now I’m thinking about how these people’s lives might have affected mine or, in turn, how I might have touched the trajectory of their own journey.
Rifling through the cards, I wonder about each person who offered me this small paper object as a reminder of our encounter. Some meetings were profound, others brief and superficial. And yet, almost every card actually accomplished the mnemonic purpose for which it was created. Holding a card now, a trickle or a flood of memories lands inside my internal vault, and that person’s existence is reinstated in mine. Beginning in 2021, I threw myself into the process of investigating how the component parts of these cards could hold a clue to my understanding of what they are. The concept of making distillations has been at the foundation of my work for a very long time.
As an experimental filmmaker and poet, I am more interested in the associative relationship between two things, two shots, and two words than I am in their cause and effect, or their narrative symbiosis. For me, a distillation like one of these cards is a container for ideas and energy, a concise manifestation of a multi-valent presence that does not depend on exposition. Distillation is not a metaphor; it’s more like metonymy and synecdoche, where a part stands in for a whole, where less might be more.
The Lynne Sachs Collection is now showing on Fandor, our independent film streaming service. Click here to watch the works of Lynne Sachs.
An autobiographical family portrait as a starting point for the construction of a film.
A workshop in which we will explore the ways in which images of our mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, grandfather, aunt or uncle can become material for the making of a personal film. Each participant will attend the first day with a single photograph that they want to examine.
Next, you’ll create a cinematic representation for this image by incorporating narration and interpretation. In the process, we will discuss and question the notions of expressing the truth and the language necessary for it.
This workshop is inspired by the work Family Lexicon by the Italian novelist Natalia Ginzburg, whose writing explores family relationships during fascism in Italy, World War II and the postwar period. Ginzburg was a perceptive artist who unified the usual distinctions between fiction and nonfiction: “Whenever I have found myself inventing something according to my old habits as a novelist, I have felt compelled to destroy it immediately. The places, events and people are all real.”
Lynne Sachs has created genre-defying cinematic works through the use of hybrid forms and interdisciplinary collaboration, incorporating elements of essay film, collage, performance, documentary, and poetry. Her highly self-reflective films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and larger historical experiences. With each project of hers, Ella Lynne investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera and the materiality of the film itself.
Lynne’s recent work combines fiction, nonfiction, and experimental modes. She has made more than 25 films that have been screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto Images Festival, among others. They have also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, Walker Art Center, Wexner Center for the Arts, and other national and international institutions. The Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (BAFICI), the New Cinema International Festival in Havana, and the China Women’s Film Festival have presented retrospectives of her films. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York and is a part-time professor in the Art department at Princeton University.
The workshop will be given in English and Spanish, an adequate level of the language is recommended
Students will have free access to the screening of the Monograph of the filmmaker Lynne Sachs, on Wednesday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m.
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.
“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
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.
Authors who have made their way looking inward, achieving a work where the constant regression to aesthetic searches, thematic investigations and particular narratives, have a point at which the gaze gravitates, infects and expands.
In this edition, we are happy to share in Mirada Epicentro the work of Lynne Sachs, Bruno Varela and Ecuador de Territory, a program made up of the authors Alberto Muenala, Eriberto Gualinga and Sani Montahuano.
A Month of Single Frames 2020 – U.S.A – 14’ In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had a one-month artist residency in the C Scape Duneshack which is run by the Provincetown Community Compact in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The shack had no running water or electricity. While there, she shot 16mm film with her Beaulieu camera, recorded sounds with her cassette recorder and kept a journal.
In 2018, Barbara began her own process of dying by revisiting her personal archive. She gave all of her Duneshack images, sounds and writing to filmmaker Lynne Sachs and invited her to make a film with the material.
Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor 2018 – U.S.A – 8’ From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three multi-faceted artists who have embraced the moving image throughout their lives. From Carolee’s 18th Century house in the woods of Upstate New York to Barbara’s West Village studio to Gunvor’s childhood village in Sweden, Lynne shoots film with each woman in the place where she finds grounding and spark.
E•pis•to•lar•y: letter to Jean Vigo 2021 – U.S.A / España – 5’ In a cinema letter to French director Jean Vigo, Lynne Sachs ponders the delicate resonances of his 1933 classic “Zero for Conduct” in which a group of school boys wages an anarchist rebellion against their authoritarian teachers. Thinking about the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the United States Capitol by thousands of right-wing activists, Sachs wonders how innocent play or calculated protest can turn so quickly into chaos and violence.
Drawn and Quartered 1987 – U.S.A – 4’ Optically printed images of a man and a woman are fragmented by a film frame that is divided into four distinct sections. An experiment in form/content relationships that are peculiar to the medium, 1987
Film About a Father Who 2020 – U.S.A – 74’ 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. 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. In the process, Sachs allows herself and her audience inside to see beyond the surface of the skin, the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, Sachs as a daughter discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.
Following the Object to its Logical Beginning 1987 – U.S.A – 9’ Like an animal in one of Eadweard Muybridge’s scientific photo experiments, five undramatic moments in a man’s life are observed by a woman. A study in visual obsession and a twist on the notion of the “gaze”.
Maya at 24 2021 – U.S.A – 4’ Lynne Sachs films her daughter Maya in 16mm black and white film, at ages 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. Conscious of the strange simultaneous temporal landscape that only film can convey, we watch Maya in motion at each distinct age.
Photograph on Wind 2001 – U.S.A – 4’ My daughter’s name is Maya. I’ve been told that the word maya means illusion in Hindu philosophy. As I watch her growing up, spinning like a top around me, I realize that her childhood is not something I can grasp but rather – like the wind – something I feel tenderly brushing across my cheek.
Same Stream Twice 2012 – U.S.A – 4’ In 2001, I photographed her at six years old, spinning like a top around me. Even then, I realized that her childhood was not something I could grasp but rather – like the wind – something I could feel tenderly brushing across my cheek.
Still Life with Woman and Four Objects 1986 – U.S.A – 4’ A film portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a prose poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a “character”. By interweaving threads of history and fiction, the film is also a tribute to a real woman – Emma Goldman, 1986 .
The house of science: a museum of false facts 1991 – U.S.A – 30’ Offering a new feminized film form, this piece explores both art and science’s representation of women, combining home movies, personal remembrances, staged scenes and found footage into an intricate visual and aural college. A girl’s sometimes difficult coming of age rituals are recast into a potent web for affirmation and growth.
Viva and Felix Growing Up 2015 – U.S.A – 10’ Capturing fragments of the first three years of her twin niece’s and nephew’s lives with their two dads (her brother Ira Sachs and his husband Boris Torres) and their mom (Kirsten Johnson), Sachs affectionately surveys the construction of family.
Which way is east Lynne Sachs / Dana Sachs 1994 – U.S.A – 33’ When two American sisters travel north from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, conversations with Vietnamese strangers and friends reveal to them the flip side of a shared history. Lynne and Dana Sachs’ travel diary of their trip to Vietnam is a collection of tourism, city life, culture clash, and historic inquiry that’s put together with the warmth of a quilt. “Which Way Is East” starts as a road trip and flowers into a political discourse. It combines Vietnamese parables, history and memories of the people the sisters met, as well as their own childhood memories of the war on TV. To Americans for whom “Vietnam” ended in 1975, “Which Way Is East” is a reminder that Vietnam is a country, not a war. The film has a combination of qualities: compassion, acute observational skills, an understanding of history’s scope, and a critical ability to discern what’s missing from the textbooks and TV news. (from The Independent Film and Video Monthly, Susan Gerhard)
Program in Spanish
Autoras y autores que han labrado su camino mirando hacia dentro, logrando una obra donde la regresión constante a búsquedas estéticas, investigaciones temáticas y narrativas particulares, disponen un punto en el cual la mirada gravita, se contagia y se expande.
En esta edición, nos alegramos compartir en Mirada Epicentro la obra de Lynne Sachs, Bruno Varela y Ecuador de territorio, un programa conformado por los autores Alberto Muenala, Eriberto Gualinga y Sani Montahuano.
A Month of Single Frames 2020 – U.S.A – 14’ En 1998, la cineasta Barbara Hammer tuvo una residencia artística de un mes en Cape Cod, Massachusetts. La choza no tenía agua corriente ni electricidad. Mientras estuvo allí, filmó una película de 16 mm, grabó sonidos y llevó un diario. En 2018, Barbara comenzó su propio proceso de muerte revisando su archivo personal. Ella le dio todas sus imágenes, sonidos y escritura de la residencia a la cineasta Lynne Sachs y la invitó a hacer una película.
Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor 2018 – U.S.A – 8’ De 2015 a 2017, Lynne visitó a Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer y Gunvor Nelson, tres artistas multifacéticos que han abrazado la imagen en movimiento a lo largo de sus vidas. Desde la casa del siglo XVIII de Carolee en los bosques del norte del estado de Nueva York hasta el estudio de Barbara en West Village y el pueblo de la infancia de Gunvor en Suecia, Lynne graba una película con cada mujer en el lugar donde encuentra la base y la chispa.
E•pis•to•lar•y: letter to Jean Vigo 2021 – U.S.A / España – 5’ En una epistolar fílmica dirigida al director francés Jean Vigo, Lynne Sachs reflexiona sobre su clásico de 1933 “Zero for Conduct”, en el que los escolares libran una rebelión anarquista contra sus maestros autoritarios. Al pensar en el asalto del 6 de enero de 2021 al Capitolio de los EE. UU. Por parte de activistas de derecha, Sachs se pregunta cómo un juego inocente o una protesta calculada pueden convertirse tan rápidamente en caos y violencia.
Drawn and Quartered 1987 – U.S.A – 4’ Imágenes impresas ópticamente de un hombre y una mujer fragmentadas por un fotograma de película que se divide en cuatro secciones distintas. Un experimento en las relaciones forma / contenido que son peculiares del medio, 1987.
Film About a Father Who 2020 – U.S.A – 74’ Desde 1984 al 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. Con un guiño a las representaciones cubistas de un rostro, la exploración de Sachas ofrece visiones simultáneas y a veces contradictorias de un hombre aparentemente incognocible que públicamente se ubica de forma desinhibida en el centro del encueadre, pero en lo privado se refugia en secretos.
Following the Object to its Logical Beginning 1987 – U.S.A – 9’ Como un animal en uno de los experimentos fotográficos científicos de Eadweard Muybridge, una mujer observa cinco momentos poco dramáticos en la vida de un hombre. Un estudio sobre la obsesión visual y un giro en la noción de “mirada”.
Maya at 24 2021 – U.S.A – 4’ Conscientes del extraño paisaje temporal simultáneo que solo el cine puede transmitir, vemos a Maya en movimiento en cada época distinta.
Photograph on Wind 2001 – U.S.A – 4’ El nombre de mi hija es Maya. Me han dicho que la palabra maya significa ilusión en la filosofía hindú. Mientras la veo crecer, girando como una peonza a mi alrededor, me doy cuenta de que su infancia no es algo que pueda comprender, sino más bien, como el viento, algo que siento acariciar con ternura mi mejilla.
Same Stream Twice 2012 – U.S.A – 4’ En 2001, la fotografié a los seis años, girando como una peonza a mi alrededor. Incluso entonces, me di cuenta de que su infancia no era algo que pudiera comprender, sino más bien, como el viento, algo que podía sentir con ternura rozando mi mejilla.
Still Life with Woman and Four Objects 1986 – U.S.A – 4’ Un retrato cinematográfico que se sitúa entre una pintura y un poema en prosa, una mirada a las rutinas y pensamientos diarios de una mujer a través de una exploración de ella como un “personaje”. Al entrelazar hilos de historia y ficción, la película también es un homenaje a una mujer real: Emma Goldman, 1986.
The house of science: a museum of false facts 1991 – U.S.A – 30’ Ofreciendo una nueva forma de película feminizada, esta pieza explora la representación de las mujeres tanto en el arte como en la ciencia, combinando películas caseras, recuerdos personales, escenas escénicas y metraje encontrado en una intrincada universidad visual y auditiva. Los rituales de mayoría de edad a veces difíciles de una niña se reconvierten en una potente red de afirmación y crecimiento.
Viva and Felix Growing Up 2015 – U.S.A – 10’ Durante los primeros tres años de la vida de mi sobrino y mi sobrina gemela, usé mi cámara Bolex de 16 mm para filmarlos mientras crecían en la ciudad de Nueva York con sus dos papás (mi hermano Ira Sachs y su esposo Boris Torres) y su mamá (Kirsten Johnson). . La película termina con un abrazo por el Día del Orgullo Gay.
Which way is east Lynne Sachs / Dana Sachs 1994 – U.S.A – 33’ Cuando dos hermanas estadounidenses viajan al norte desde la ciudad de Ho Chi Minh a Hanoi, las conversaciones con desconocidos y amigos vietnamitas les revelan la otra cara de una historia compartida.
In focus: Film About a Father Who 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.
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 centre of the frame yet privately ensconced in secrets. In the process,
Sachs allows herself and her audience inside to see beyond the surface of the
skin, the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, Sachs as a daughter
discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.
Since the 1980s, Lynne Sachs has created
cinematic works that defy genre through the use of hybrid forms and
cross-disciplinary collaboration, incorporating elements of the essay film,
collage, performance, documentary and poetry. Her highly self-reflexive films
explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader
historical experiences. With each project, Lynne investigates the implicit
connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself.
The Artist : Lynne Sachs 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.
Lynne Sachs’s catalogue is
represented in North America by Canyon Cinema and
Cooperative with selected features at Cinema
Guild and Icarus Films.
Her work is distributed internationally by Kino Rebelde. In tandem with making
films, Lynne is also deeply engaged with poetry. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press
published Lynne’s first book Year by Year Poems.
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.
The Task of the Translator By Lynne Sachs 10 min. 2010 Premiere: Migrating Forms Film Festival, New York, NY May 2010
Lynne Sachs pays homage to Walter Benjamin’s
essay “The Task of the Translator” through three studies of the human body.
First, she listens to the musings of a wartime doctor grappling with the task
of a kind of cosmetic surgery for corpses. Second, she witnesses a group of
Classics scholars confronted with the haunting yet whimsical task of
translating a newspaper article on Iraqi burial rituals into Latin. And
finally, she turns to a radio news report on human remains.
In “The Task of the Translator,” Lynne Sachs turns her original, probing eye to the ways in which we struggle to put words to the horrifying realities of War. In her subtle, trademark shifting between the intimate, personal space of a few individuals and the cavernous, echoing ambiguity of larger, moral questions, Sachs stakes out unsettling territory concerning what it means–what it feels like–to be made into unwitting voyeurs of Mankind’s most grotesque doings. At the same time we find she is also talking, with startling deftness, about the way that all artists are, in the end, engaged in the task of the translator: stuck with the impossible task of rendering imponderables, unutterable, and unsayables, into neat representations to be consumed, digested, perhaps discarded. We are not, however, left despairing; a pair of hands, caught again and again in the beautiful motion of gesticulation, is far from helpless or mute. This image captures, rather, the supreme eloquence of the effort to translate, and the poignant hope represented by this pungent, memorable film itself.”Shira Nayman author of The Listener and Awake in the Dark, both of which “ explore the havoc historical trauma plays with the psyche.
The Small Ones By Lynne Sachs 3 min. colour sound 2007 (from 16mm and video) Screenings: Tribeca Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Black Maria FilmFest (Award), Dallas Video Festival, Pacific Film Archive, MadCatFilm Fest
During WWII, the US Army Graves Registration
Service hired the filmmaker’s Hungarian cousin, Dr Sandor Lenard, to
reconstruct the bones–small and large–of dead American soldiers. This
elliptical work, which resonates as an anti-war meditation, is composed of
excerpts of Sandor’s letters to Sachs’ family, highly abstracted war imagery
and home movies of children at a birthday party.
“Profound. The soundtrack is amazing. The image at the end of the girl with the avocado seed is so hopeful. Good work.” – Barbara Hammer, filmmaker
“Photograph of Wind” by Lynne Sachs 16mm, b&w and colour, 4 min. 2001 SCREENINGS: San Francisco Film Festival, Onion City Film Festival
My daughter’s name is Maya. I’ve been
told that the word Maya means illusion in Hindu philosophy. As I watch her
growing up, spinning like a top around me, I realize that her childhood is not
something I can grasp but rather–like the wind–something I feel tenderly
brushing across my cheek.
“Sachs suspends in time a single moment of her daughter.” – Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
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