Tag Archives: States of UnBelonging

Cryptofiction Presents Five Films by Lynne Sachs


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

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

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

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

Cryptofiction: Interview with Lynne Sachs


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

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


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

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

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

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

Kino Rebelde to Represent Lynne Sachs’ Catalogue Internationally


Kino Rebelde has created a retrospective that traces a delicate line connecting intimacy, power relations, violence, memory, migration, desire, love, and war in Lynne’s films. By looking at each of these works, we can see a director facing her own fears and contradictions, as well as her sense of friendship and motherhood.  Moving from idea to emotion and back again, our retrospective takes us on a journey through Sachs’ life as a filmmaker, beginning in 1986 and moving all the way to the present.

With the intention of allowing her work to cross boundaries, to interpret and to inquire into her distinctive mode of engaging with the camera as an apparatus for expression, we are delighted to present 37 films that comprise the complete filmmography, so far, of Lynne Sachs as visual artist and filmmaker. Regardless of the passage of time, these works continue to be extremely contemporary, coherent and radical in their artistic conception.

About Kino Rebelde

Kino Rebelde is a Sales and Festival Distribution Agency created by María Vera in early 2017. Its exclusively dedicated to promotion of non-fiction cinema, hybrid narratives and experimental.

Based on the creative distribution of few titles by year, Kino Rebelde established itself as a “boutique agency”, working on a specialized strategy for each film, within its own characteristics, market potential, niches and formal and alternative windows.

This company supports short, medium and long feature films, from any country, with linear or non-linear narratives. They can be in development or WIP, preferably in the editing stage.

The focus: author point of view, pulse of stories, chaos, risk, more questions, less answers, aesthetic and politic transgression, empathy, identities, desires and memory.

Kino Rebelde was born in Madrid, but as its films, this is a nomadic project. In the last years María has been living in Lisbon, Belgrade and Hanoi and she’ll keep moving around.

About María Vera

Festival Distributor and Sales Agent born in Argentina. Founder of Kino Rebelde, a company focused on creative distribution of non-fiction, experimental and hybrid narratives.

Her films have been selected and awarded in festivals as Berlinale, IFFR Rotterdam, IDFA, Visions Du Réel, New York FF, Hot Docs, Jeonju IFF, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Sarajevo FF, Doclisboa and Viennale, among others.

María has a background as producer of socio-political and human rights contents as well as a film curator.Envelope


Lynne Sachs (1961) is an American filmmaker and poet living in Brooklyn, New York. Her moving image work ranges from documentaries, to essay films, to experimental shorts, to hybrid live performances.

Working from a feminist perspective, Lynne weaves together social criticism with personal subjectivity. Her films embrace a radical use of archives, performance and intricate sound work. Between 2013 and 2020, she collaborated with renowned musician and sound artist Stephen Vitiello on five films.

Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in each new project.

Between 1994 and 2009, Lynne directed 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 perception. 

Over the course of her career, she has worked closely with film artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Ernie Gehr, Barbara Hammer, Chris Marker, Gunvor Nelson, and Trinh T. Min-ha.

Film Dienst – First person # 3: A conversation with filmmaker Lynne Sachs

Film Dienst
Saturday, February 6th, 2021
By Esther Buss 

A conversation with the US filmmaker Lynne Sachs about the importance of the autobiographical in her films

  1. From the beginning of your career as an artist and filmmaker you were in one way or another present in your films: as a body, as a voice, or with certain‚ chapters’ of your own (family) history. Why was this personal or autobiographical approach important to you, why is it still relevant?

Presence in a film comes in a variety of forms.  When I used to cut the actual film footage with a guillotine splicer, I felt that my finger prints on the celluloid were the beginning of my engagement with both the celluloid material and the moment that it signified through the images I had collected with my camera.  Of course, that haptic connection has now disappeared with the intervention of the digital.  Still, in our current time, every image or sound that you collect, be it your own or a found one, is a document of a thought. During the first decade of my filmmaking practice, almost every film I made included some image of my own body, sometimes clothed, sometimes not. It almost became a joke in my family. ”Oh, there she is again!” But, for me, this was a way to subvert the subject/object paradigm of the camera. I needed to flow back and forth, as if through the mechanism of the lens itself.  The presence of my body paralleled the presence of my words, whether experienced aurally as voice-over or on the screen through my hand-written gesture.  Today, we all recognize the inundation of media in our lives.  With the sensation of feeling this material as either an assault or caress (depending on your mood as you scroll through your cell phone just before going to sleep at night), each of us must find a way to register awareness and critique.

  1. Although you choose a personal approach, you represent yourself (and others) more in a fragmented way than as ‚authentic’ characters. What is the idea behind this?

Seeing my work through your eyes is a revelation, actually.  I would not have articulated my approach this way, and yet I completely agree with your assessment. I have never identified with storytelling and, in turn, the effort to create a character. This homage to narrative tradition I find reductive and limiting, in the same way that I would find writing a conventional feature film script to be deeply restrictive. One of the words I despise most in today’s parlance is the word “template”.  When I discovered that there are templates for writing feature film screenplays, I felt like weeping.  When one uses the word “personal” to describe their work, I think they are claiming ownership for all aspects of the creative process, from the structure to the content.  Yes, I do feel an affinity for a more fragmented depiction of another person because I want to make clear that my ability to understand is determined by my point of view. These fissures give someone watching the film the possibility of providing the glue, the connections, the linkages that always circle back to their own life experiences.

  1. How do you deal with the double position of being the author and the figure of your films at the same time?

Sometimes I make films that are very clearly an outgrowth of my own identity as a white Jewish woman born in the United States in 1961. I can’t change any of that and I can’t simply hide one part and flaunt another. Other times, I make films that don’t make those ingredients so apparent, even though they are always there.  Even when my voice, my writing or my body are not there, we all know that my position is influencing every decision I make, how person is framed, how a sound is heard, which music is included, which images are given the space to thrive and which are punished for their very existence.

  1. When speaking about her autifictional novel The Cost of Living, the British writer Deborah Levy characterized her literary (female) subject as a person who is not herself, but who is ‚close’ to her. Who are you in your films?

Deborah Levy’s sense of her own presence in her work is very intriguing, even candid. This reminds of a cultural theory observation by filmmaker, poet and teacher Trinh T. Minh-ha in her essay “Speaking Nearby” (1992) which I quote here:

“There is not much, in the kind of education we receive here in the West, that emphasizes or even recognizes the importance of constantly having contact with what is actually within ourselves, or of understanding a structure from within ourselves. The tendency is always to relate to a situation or to an object as if it is only outside of oneself. Whereas elsewhere, in Vietnam, or in other Asian and African cultures for example, one often learns to “know the world inwardly,” so that the deeper we go into ourselves, the wider we go into society.”

Trinh was a professor of mine in graduate school. I am convinced that her practice of transposing her understanding of herself to her earnest, but always recognizably incomplete, effort to project on others had an enormous impact on my work.

  1. In your films about family members like your father in Film About a Father Who (2020) or The Last Happy Day (2009), which tells of a distant cousin of yours, you sometimes seem to dissolve as the authorial voice, or to put it another way, you pass on your voice – for example to your siblings or children. Is this also a form of giving up some of the power that one has as a narrative authority?

Hmmmm. This makes me think very hard about my process. That’s what a good interview does. Thank you for giving me this chance to be introspective. On one level, I am very committed to a non-hierarchical way of working, one that does not privilege my perspective over another person’s. On another level, perhaps I am ashamed of expressing my thoughts or feelings in a singular voice so I depend on others to prop me up.  Both of these films are part of a triptych of films, the third of which is States of UnBelonging (2005).  The intention with this three-part endeavor was to grapple with the ways we can and cannot understand another human being.  States of UnBelonging looks at a woman in Israel-Palestine who was total stranger to me.  The Last Happy Day is a fragmented portrait of a distance relative, so one degree closer, in a way, to me. Film About a Father Who is, obviously, about my dad. That was supposed to be the easiest, and ultimately it was the most difficult.  Closeness and intimacy somehow became an obstacle. I end up relying on others to give me clarity.

  1. In A Month of Single Frames, your film with images, sounds and notes by the now deceased experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer, I was very taken with your expanding the First Person Singular. What gave you the idea of this grammatical shift?

Oh, I am thrilled to be talking about voice, language and grammar all in one question. In A Month of Single Frames I decided that I would use the expanded Second Person that includes an ambiguous “you”. It could be the “you” that we usually find in a correspondence with another person.  Or, it could be the “you” that embraces all of us in one sweeping address.  When I write the word you, the viewer might think I am talking to Barbara Hammer, who is no longer alive but through cinema can be included in this dialogue. Or, the viewer may feel that I am addressing them.  It’s kind of wonderfully unclear, which might be an accident or might be intentional. I will never tell.  

This is how I see you. This is how you see yourself. 

You are here. I am here with you. 

This place is still this place. This place is no longer this place. It must be different. 

You are alone. I am here with you in this film. There are others here with us. We are all together. 

Time    less    yours   mine 

(On Screen text by Lynne Sachs from A Month of Single Frames)

  1. For some time, personal or autobiographical narratives are strongly present in documentary filmmaking. How would you explain the strong interest in the personal in these times?

My interpretation of this current enthusiasm for the personal narrative has to do with our interest in knowing who is speaking to us. So much media in our lives is delivered to us without this clarity of positionality. We are forced to discern and to guess how who someone is affects what they are saying to us.  Maybe it is refreshing to have this kind of transparency. 

“States of UnBelonging” at DocAviv 2020

Film About a Father Who
Doc Aviv

“States of UnBelonging” will be available from 3/9 at 12AM until 12/9 at 12AM
Follow this link for tickets:

LIVE Q&A SUNDAY 6/9/ 2020 at 19:00
Lynne Sachs, Filmmaker of States of Unbelonging and Film About a Father Who in conversation with Dr. Laliv Melamed and Nir Zats, co-writer if States of Unbelonging

Register here to attend: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0aZv_2c1QqiMEqCWECjDGQ

Filmmaker Lynne Sachs never met Revital Ohayon, an Israeli filmmaker and mother killed near the West Bank. In 2002, she read a news article about the death of Ohayon and her two small children in their house in Kibbutz Metzer. She immediately started gathering information. Despite the distance, New York-based Sachs slowly gets to know more about the young Israeli filmmaker, who had so much in common with her but lived in a starkly different reality. She puts the pieces together through phone calls and correspondences with Nir Zats, an Israeli friend and former student of Sachs, who acts as her field agent. The puzzle takes her over two years to complete, and the picture that emerges is complex and multi-faceted. Although seemingly different, each person in it is trying to survive in a violent present, while carrying a violent past. Without taking sides or casting blame, the film becomes a cine-essay on fear and filmmaking, tragedy and transformation, violence and the land of Israel/Palestine.

The film is screened as part of a tribute to Lynne Sachs, alongside her new work Film About a Father Who…

Previous Festivals: BAFICI (Buenos Aires Intl Film Festival), Margaret Mead Film Festival New York

“From the Outside In: Investigation as a Language In the Films of Lynne Sachs” at DocAviv

From the Outside In: Investigation as a Language In the Films of Lynne Sachs
Sunday, 6/9/2020 
By Dr. Laliv Melamed 

A Conversation with Lynne Sachs, director of Film About a Father Who… and States of Unbelonging, with co-author Nir Zats, moderated by Dr. Laliv Melamed

Lynne Sachs has been making films for over thirty years. Her work is investigative, lyrical, sensitive, and intimate, and her films raise questions about language, narrative techniques, and the cinematic practice itself. Sachs delegates the storytelling work to her subjects—from illegal workers to her own family—letting them negotiate with her camera. Two of her films are screened at this year’s Docaviv: Film about a Father Who and States of Unbelonging. Both film take the viewers on a journey of discovery, but the roads fork many times over and do not lead to definite answers. The discovery, if it exists at all, isn’t always a solution or a revelation, and the journey is internal and external at the same time.

Sachs’ most recent film, Film about a Father Who, is the culmination of thirty years of documentary work—a period as long as her entire professional career. The film’s focus is on her father, Ira Sachs. Sachs Senior is a colorful and licentious type, and his daughter takes his character apart and puts it back together again through the testimonies of his mother, his wives, and his many children, scattered across considerable distances. The film, much like its title, is an unfinished sentence. “This is not a portrait,” she tells us. It is a space she crafts meticulously and laboriously, unraveling and weaving threads with anger and forgiveness, affection and aversion for a father who (…).

In States of Unbelonging (2005), Sachs follows the trail of Revital Ohayon, a film teacher from Metzer, a Kibbutz near the West Bank, who was murdered by a terrorist along with her two children. Having learned about the incident from a newspaper article, Sachs becomes determined to understand this woman, who was as close to her as she was far away. She does this through letters and footage obtained by Nir Zats, an Israeli filmmaker and friend. Driven by an imagined affinity between her and Ohayon, Sachs tries to figure out her relationship with Israel, a torn, wounded nation. “As a documentary filmmaker, I am always reckoning with what it means to shoot from the outside in,” she says. The two films move simultaneously inward and outward, cutting through layers of language, meaning, and identity.

Authored and presented by Dr. Laliv Melamed

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

“Coming Back to Father’s House”
by Amir Bogen
English translation by Nir Zats
February 14, 2020

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

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

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

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

Lynne Sachs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still from Film About a Father Who (2020)

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

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

Still from Film About a Father Who (2020)

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

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

That must raise some questions with certain people.

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


“On Writing the Film Essay” by Lynne Sachs

 “On Writing the Film Essay” by Lynne Sachs
Published in Essays on the Essay Film, edited by Nora M. Alter and Tim Corrigan
Columbia University Press, 2017

Note: All of the films I discuss in this essay can be found on www.lynnesachs.com

Essays on the Essay FilmI feel a closeness to writers, poets and painters, much more than to traditional film directors. For one thing, we ciné experimenters are not bound by the plot-driven mechanics of cause and effect that, for me, often bring the transcendent experience of watching a movie to a grinding halt. The kinds of films I make give the space for mysterious – at least initially — sequences that don’t simply illustrate why one event or scene leads to another. More like an artist than a traditional documentary maker, I am interested in a kind of meaning that is open to interpretation.  Once a film is complete, I often learn things about it from my audience — how the convergence of two images actually expresses an idea or how a non-diegetic sound expands the meaning of spoken phrase. I hope it’s doing one thing, but I might discover that it’s doing something completely different. In this way, the films are kind of porous and flexible; they are open to interpretation. My essay films, in particular, are full of association. Some are resolved and some are adolescent; they’re still trying to figure out who they are.   Through the making of the film, I learn about myself in the context of learning about the world.   My job is not to educate but rather to spark a curiosity in my viewer that moves from the inside out.   The texts for these films come to me in both public and private spaces:  on a long train ride, during a layover in a strange city, at a café, in a hotel room, on the toilet.

Throughout the 1990s, I gravitated toward the simultaneously visceral and cerebral French feminist theory of Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray. As a moving image artist searching for a new discourse that spoke to radical issues with an equally radical form, I embraced this kind of writing as it led me toward the non-narrative, unconventional grammar of experimental film as well as the self-reflexivity of the essay.  My first essay film was “The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts” (1991), a personal rumination on the relationship between a woman’s body and the often-opposing institutions of art and science.  While I was shooting this film, I was also keeping a diary:

“My memory of being a girl includes a “me” that is two. I am two bodies – the body of the body and the body of the mind.  The body of the body was flaccid and forgotten.  This was the body that was wet with dirty liquids, holes that wouldn’t close, full of smells and curdled milk.  Of course there was the skeleton.  This was assumed and only reconsidered upon my very rare attempts at jumping farther than far enough, clearing the ditch, lifting the heave-ho. But the body of the body was not the bones.  This body wrapped and encircled the bones, a protective cover of flesh, just on the other side of the wall I call skin.”

I will never forget a cross-country plane ride I took near the end of editing this film. Throughout the time I was in the air, as I flew across the Mississippi, the Great Plains, and the Rockies, I was searching frantically for the hidden skeletal structure of the film. I’d committed to a premiere at the Los Angeles Film Forum, and I only had a couple of months until my screening date.  (Stupid me. I’ll never do that again!) Midway into the flight, I realized it was all laid out before me in the form of the poetry journal I carried in my backpack.  The writing had been with me all along; I simply hadn’t realized that this text was more than a dispensable traveling partner in the “journey” that was the production of the movie. Over the next few weeks, my poems began to guide my editing of the images and sounds,.  Ever since that early period in my filmmaking career, I’ve kept a handwritten journal during the making of my films. In addition to contributing an often times essential narrative element, this kind of writing can also be the critical link to the “naïve” yet curious person I may no longer really “know,” the person I was when I embarked on the intellectual and artistic adventure that is the creation of a film.

In my 1994 essay film “Which Way is East: Notebooks from Vietnam” (1994), I built a voice-over narration out of two surprisingly oppositional perspectives on post-war Vietnam. My sister Dana Sachs, one of the first American journalists to live for an extended period of time in Vietnam, offered expansive, highly informed insights on Vietnamese daily life.  In contrast, my writing traced my own transformation from earnest, war-obsessed American tourist to more keenly observant traveler:

“Driving through the Mekong Delta, a name that carries so much weight. My mind is full of war, and my eyes are on a scavenger hunt for leftovers. Dana told me that those ponds full of bright green rice seedlings are actually craters, the inverted ghosts of bombed out fields.  At Cu Chi, we pay three U.S. dollars so that a tour guide will lead us through a section of this well-known 200-kilometer tunnel complex. This is the engineering masterpiece of the Viet Cong, a matrix of underground kitchens and living rooms and army headquarters. As I slide through the narrow, dusty passageway, my head fills up with those old war movies Dad took us to in the ’70′s. My body is way too big for these tunnels. I can hardly breathe. After five minutes, I come out gasping.  We decide not to spend the extra ten dollars it costs to shoot a rifle.”

Only by reconnecting to the developing stages of my awareness through my journal could I provide an opening to my American audience.  The narrative trajectory of this half-hour film follows our evolving understanding of the landscape and the people of Vietnam. Honestly, my sister Dana and I fought all the through the shaping of the film’s voice over.  If she hadn’t been my sister, I probably would have fired her as a collaborator!  The fundamental tension between the two of us grew out of several distinct differences between our points of view.  While she had very much completed her own reckoning with the destruction of the war between Vietnam and the United States, I, like most tourists, was still dealing with the war’s echoes and the guilt that came with that psychic burden.  While she wanted to follow the order of events to the letter, I felt free to articulate our experiences by distilling our stories into anecdotes that could function like parables. By recognizing the inherent tension between my position as a non-narrative experimental filmmaker and my sister’s commitment to a more transparent commentary, we were able to find a rhetorical strategy that mirrors the most fundamental conflicts around discourse and truth facing an essayist in any format.   In several quintessentially self-reflexive moments, my sister expresses exasperation with almost every aspect of my production process:

“Lynne can stand for an hour finding the perfect frame for her shot. It’s as if she can understand Vietnam better when she looks at it through the lens of her camera. I hate the camera. The world feels too wide for the lens, and if I try to frame it, I only cut it up.”

In 1997, I completed “Biography of Lilith” (1997), a film exploring the ruptures both women and men must confront when transitioning from being autonomous individuals to parents with responsibilities.  I began making this film when I discovered I was pregnant with my first daughter and by the time I finished three years later I was able to punctuate the final sound mix with the cries of my second child. Inspired by the theoretical texts of Julia Kristeva and Antonin Artaud, in particular, this film celebrates my most intimate and abject concerns about the changes in my body and my place in the world as a woman. My film on Lilith, Adam’s first mate, is also a portrait of a female archetype who boldly wanted to be on top during sex. The film matches a non-authoritative exposition of Lilith in a multiplicity of cultures – both ancient and contemporary – with my own pre and post-partum writing. In this way, I juxtaposed two years of historical and cultural research and interviews with intimate ruminations on my own sexuality and motherhood.

“I’m learning to read all over again. A face, this time, connected to a body.  At first, I feel your story from within.  Nose rubs against belly, elbow prods groin. Your silent cough becomes a confusing dip and bulge.  You speak and I struggle to translate.  I lie on my side, talk to myself, rub my fingers across my skin, from left to right.  I read out loud, and I hope you can hear me.  I’m learning to read all over again, but this time I have a teacher.”

In “States of UnBelonging” (2005), my fourth film in a five-film body of work I call “I Am Not a War Photographer”, I turned to Terence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line” and to the “Hell” section of Jean Luc Godard’s “Notre Musique” for lessons from makers who were capable of articulating the horror of war. I constructed this film around an epistolary friendship I had with an Israeli student who moved back to Tel Aviv during an extremely volatile period in Israel-Palestine.  A meditation on war as well as land, the Bible, and filmmaking, this essay film is built from over three years of emails.  With enormous hesitation and intimidation, we reveal our anguish and bewilderment in the film’s soundtrack as well as on the screen as text. With an awareness of my own position in this charged political landscape, I start the film with a kind of meta-historical lamentation on the way that human beings organize time:

“Do you ever have the feeling that the history you are experiencing has no shape?

Even as a teenager I was obsessed with history’s shifts and ruptures. Wars helped us order time. A war established beginnings and endings. There is “before.” There is “during.” There is “after.”

I am currently working on “Tip of My Tongue”, a film on memory that began with 50 autobiographical poems I wrote about each year from my birth in 1961 to my 50th birthday.  Unlike my previous films, in which the research and shooting themselves prompted the text, this project grew directly from my poetry.   Without the slightest concern for how the poems would eventually shimmy their way into one of my movies, in 2012 I gave myself the unencumbered freedom to write about my own life.  In each poem, I looked at the relationship between a large public event and my own insignificant, yet somehow personally memorable, connection to that situation.  Now, three years later, I am working with a cast of eleven people from almost every continent, each of whom was born around the year 1961. Together we are creating an inverted history of our collective half-century through a series of spoken story distillations that place the grand in the shadow of the intimate.  From glimpsing a drunken Winston Churchill on the streets of London to watching the Moon landing from a playground in Melbourne to washing dishes during the Iranian Revolution to feeling destitute during the Recession, we are working collaboratively to construct our own recipe for a performative sound-image essay film.

Excerpt from Review by Tanya Goldman in Cinema Journal:

“There is often a poetic dialogue extending between sections when a voice of the past rhymes with the present. In 1948, Alexandre Astruc wrote of a cinema that should function as “the seismograph of our hearts, a disorderly pendulum inscribing on film the tense dialectics of our ideas.” This quality is echoed in Lynne Sachs’s 2016 reflections on her own practice through which she feels a stronger sense of kinship with writers, poets, and painters than film directors. She states that her job “is not to educate but rather to spark curiosity in my viewer that moves from the inside out.” Observations such as these bestow the essay film with a distinct emotive quality much at odds with classical documentary’s association with sobriety.”

Tanya Goldman
Cinema Journal, Volume 57, Number 4, Summer 2018, pp. 161-166 (Review)
Published by University of Texas Press
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/cj.2018.0064





The Essay Film: Students Contemplate States of UnBelonging by Lynne Sachs


On March 6, 2016, University of Iowa graduate students Brittany  Borghi (MFA in the Non-Fiction Writing Program) and Hannah Bonner  (MA in Film Studies ) wrote this letter to me:

Dear Lynne,
My name is Brittany Borghi and I’m a graduate student in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. I’m enrolled in an essay film class this semester, and this week, I’m putting together a presentation on you and your film, States of Unbelonging. 

This class is the first time that I (and many of my classmates) have gone in-depth with the essay film, and we’re slowly making our way through the process of creating our own (very, very amateur films). In my very preliminary research about you, I’m finding that you seem to be extremely open to conversations about your craft and your work, and I’m wondering if it might be possible to send you a few questions from our motley crew of budding filmmakers, to share with the class on Thursday night. Since you are someone who transitioned from writing to filmmaking, it might be particularly helpful to hear more about your perspective. Also, our class is full of female filmmakers, and I know they would love to hear from you. 

I’m sure you’re extremely busy, but if you wouldn’t mind me emailing you a few quick questions, I would be delighted. 

I hope this email finds you well. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best and Thanks,
Brittany Borghi 

HI Brittany, this is a start for you and your class. I will try to write more tomorrow before I get on a plane but otherwise it will be finished next week.

I got through about half of your fantastic questions.


Hi Lynne, 

Sorry for the delay on this–I tried to curate some questions from my classmates and they were slow getting back to me. Feel free to answer any of these that appeal to you. It’s really exciting to be able to pull your perspective as filmmaker into our class. I hadn’t seen States of Unbelonging before taking this class, and I really loved the film. Thanks for being so generous!



How intentional was the visual and aural layering in the film, and what was your motivation behind that level of layering? 

As with many of my films, I start out thinking the journey of the production will take me one place but the realities of the real life situation take me somewhere far different. In the case of STATES OF UNBELONGING,  I actually knew the title of the film even before I began looking into Revital’s life as a filmmaker.  I had felt torn about the situation in Israel,  believing that the country itself had come into existence for profoundly disturbing and meaningful reasons but that the contemporary realities had become unfathomably complex.  I see the ‘state’ in which Palestinians and Jews are trying to live as a pathological place where no one and everyone belong and don’t belong. Even the notion or ownership and nationhood is so contested. For this reason, I wanted the portrait of Revital to reveal my own sense of doubt and I tried to make this evident through the tensions that exist in the very fabric of the film.     Throughout the film, I try to create a sense of poignancy in either the image or the sound but often not both, except for the documentary material from the kindergarten (where children talk about death) which is so powerful on its own and should not be circumvented.

I’ve read that Chantal Ackerman is an inspiration of yours, and the beginning of the film almost reads like an reimagining of News From Home. Can you talk about pulling Ackerman into this film? Were you inspired at all by Chantal’s installations, as well as her films?

Most definitely, the epistolary structure and intimacy of NEWS FROM HOME was an inspiration for me.  I think that our culture has actually become more literary since the advent of email and that we are constantly hearing our friends’ and families’ voices in our heads as we read their words, these monologues then travel with us throughout the day.  Cinema is particularly capable of replicating this psychological connection to another human being.  Regarding Akerman’s installations, the only one I’ve seen was “D’est” (From the East) a sweeping yet somehow very human meditation on the changes brought on by the fall of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe.  I suppose that her use of long noninflected pans across landscapes was important to me, but on the other hand I focus on one person’s life caught up in political turmoil and Akerman was, in this case, looking at a contintal gestalt.

In The Essay Film, Tim Corrigan writes, “Like an endless war, these states of unbelonging offer no place in which a self can be situated and clearly articulated. It is rather a state of perilous expectations or, as Revital’s husband describes it, a place of such intense longing that there is simply nowhere to locate the extreme sorrow of that longing.” He goes on to say that happens even in the practice of filmmaking. Did you have a position for your essayistic self before beginning States? How did you position yourself against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Against Revital? Against Judaism or Islam? Did making the film change those positions? 

Making the film put me into the wrestling ring where I was being bounced around by every single conversation, large scale political event, suicide bomb, unwarrented settlment – – really the gamut of the the Israeli-Palestinian war was on my mind for the entire time. I was wrought by it all, but then again this was exactly what I wanted. I wanted to reckon with the dilemma in my own exploratory way. I was constantly haunted by her death, but I was not angered to the point where I wanted revenge.  I will share a story related to the distribution of the film.  I contacted the Jerusalem Film Festival a few months after completing the film to ask about their submission deadline.  When I described  the subject of the film, the secretary who happen to answer the phone told me immediately that the film would NOT be accepted into the festival because of its subject matter. I said “Why?” feeling broken-hearted that I would not be able to show the film in that highly respected festival. He then explained that all of the programmers were very progressive and would not like a movie that functioned an exposé on a terrorist act against a Jewish woman and her children. I then explained that the film is not a  one-sided critique of either the murderer or the Palestinians, but rather a thought piece on the whole situation and its resonance for those of us who are far way physically but close emotionally. In the end, my collaborator Nir Zats and I were invited to the festival.  And, to my great joy, Chantal Akerman was there screening “La Bas” (Down There) here own rumination on the fraught situation in the Middle East.  I was able to meet her the day that the war broke out between Israel and Lebanon. A very scary day for both us in Jerusalem.

I love that we end with the innocence of your daughter’s question, which is at once so wonderfully comforting and so entirely unnerving. What was that conversation like in real life? Was it an honest revelation of hers–or a prompting for the film? Can you talk about your perspective as a woman and a mother–in relation to both Revital as a mother and filmmaker, and to the creation of States itself?

This film is very much coming from my position as a mother.  I made the film BIOGRAPHY OF LILITH about ten years before and some of the issues around the creative process and its relationship to having children are in both films.  Honestly, I initially thought the best way to make this film was to make an anti-documentary that would not allow me to smell, hear, feel or hear anything related to the actual place I was exploring. I was interested in using other people’s and the mainstream news’ mediations coming from every direction. Plus, this intellectual premise, this rhetorical stance, would actually provide an armor or a buffer, protecting me from the very thing that had actually killed Revital. In the end, I capitulated and ended up going to Israel to shoot.  This in and of itself is problematic for those people who believe that boycotting Israel is the best way to create change.  I am not convinced this is true. I wanted to challenge the status quo through the work of making the film.  In this way, the core of Revital’s work as an artist and her commitment to recognizing the rights of the Palestinians was hopefully recognized by the film itself.  She bravely chose to live near a Palestinian village she admired a great deal.

As Corrigan points out (and is clear in the film), our narrator shifts throughout the duration of States, and we come to eventually see the full revelation of you as narrator as Revital’s grave. Can you walk me through your decision-making process for that shifting? How did the essay take shape in that way, or when did it? Did you always intend for the audience to experience this unfolding of and with the narrator? Or was that a part of your filmmaking process? At the level of craft, your voicing is so much different at the beginning than it is even halfway through the film. What were you channeling in those opening moments of the film? 

I’m enchanted by the textual and discursive distance between the narrator’s voiceover, Nir’s voiceover, the text on the screen, and the extreme diversity of rendered images. Again, echoing Corrigan, there is something Marker-esque happening on the screen–and in the mind of the viewer. It puts us on unstable ground, an obvious connection to the thematic exploration in States. Can you elaborate on your own intention with that distance, and how you made those choices? Where are you hoping to situation the audience, and your own essayistic self?

Can you get crafty with us? How many different cameras did you use when recording? How much behind-the-scenes work was happening between you and Nir, in terms of both filming and writing? What was your editing process like? 

Anything else you want us to know about the film? What you wanted to do, and what you wanted us to walk away with? (We’ll have a lot to say about that in class, I’m sure, but I’d love to include that information from you.)

One more question came in from my professor, Jeff Porter, if you have time to answer! 

Dear Lynne—such a compelling and subtly complex film. Thanks for fielding questions from our class. I have a number but let me keep it to one or two. At what point in figuring out your story did you realize that your gradual, visual emergence as a complete presence in the film would tie together so many narrative strings? Was there anything about the editing process that lead you to that solution?

Basically,  I admitted to myself that I would be absolutely candid about my own fears, because I knew that I could not be a war photographer in any way, I knew that my sensations of ambivalence and hesitancy and curiosity were neither unusual or heroic.  I was scared to be so open but it was also very much a relief.  It’s true that I, as a woman with  a camera , only really emerge at the end when I become a listener to Revital’s husband.  This was not planned but it did somehow make sense. When I make essay films, I always end up figuring out the ending at the completion of the editing.  This keep me entertained throughout the process, wondering how I will tie it all up.

Many thanks,
Jeff Porter


Thank you so, so much! These are so interesting to read, and the answers I shared in my presentation last week helped spur a really fascinating discussion that I don’t think we would have had otherwise. I’ll look forward to sharing the rest of them when we get back from spring break.

Creating my own brief essay film for the first time this semester is proving to be a wildly fun challenge, and I’m still not really sure how it’s going to take shape before the end of the semester. Corresponding with you has been really motivating, though. Glad to know that you feel like I “got” your film. The genre has been new to me this semester, and I’m absolutely loving it. Any parting advice for someone slowly trudging through this study and work?

When will TIP OF MY TONGUE come out? I’ll be looking forward to it!

You’re great, this has been great, and again, I really do appreciate it.

All the Best,





“Of the Currency of Events: The Essay Film as Editorial” by Tim Corrigan

The Essay Film
The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker by Tim Corrigan
Oxford University Press, 2011

Link to The Essay Film at Oxford University Press

Chapter 6: “Of the Currency of Events: The Essay Film as Editorial”

This is an excerpt from Corrigan’s discussion of the film “States of UnBelonging” (2006) by Lynne Sachs

(see Tim Corrigan’s book for discussion of Harun Farocki’s Respite and Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir)

Lynne Sachs’s States of UnBelonging (2006) begins in a private life suffused by global television images, visible on a screen in the background of a living room in New York City. A young girl (Sachs’s daughter) plays on the left side of the frame, while Sachs sits at a table on the right side, watching a news report that shows scenes of war and protest in the Middle East. Over the clicking of an e-mail correspondence, Sachs writes to her Israeli friend Nir: “Did you ever have the feeling that the history you’re experiencing has no shape? War helped us establish time. A war established beginnings and endings.” She writes Nir about a news report in New York Times that describes the terrorist murder of Israeli filmmaker Revital Ohayon and her two children living in Kibbutz Metzer on the West Bank. As she later talks with Nir on the telephone about the incident, a close up of Sachs’s hands cuts out the newspaper article while the blurred television image continues in the background. She folds and turns the material of the newspaper article, then a map of Israel, through a series of superimposed images. Introducing a kind of home movie of current events, these first, dense, and layered images locate the film against the background of television news and the difficult understanding of history through the crisis of war. Here a seemingly never-ending crisis becomes the quintessential contemporary current of events that, in this essay, must be engaged and rewritten as a caesura across global geographies, an imagistic constellation rather than an historical current. Over television images of street violence in Israel, Sachs’s daughter Maya later asks her, “Is there are war in Israel?” “Not today” is Sachs’s ironic reply.

Through the course of the film, this current of events changes directions constantly, as the film arrests, redirects, and reverses the movement of those events. Reminiscent of Marker’s Sunless with its rapid and unexpected global movements, States of UnBelonging disperses perspectives and voices across different individuals and material representations. A multi-technological epistolary exchange between New York City and Israel across e-mails and phone conversations, the film ultimately culminates in a series of face-to-face meetings in Israel, meetings with the living and the dead. At one point, Sachs searches for information on the Internet in foreground, while watching a video in background of the weeping Avi, husband of Revital, and at the same time speaking to Nir on the telephone. Even global geographies fluctuate and overlap within this current of crises: when Sachs interviews Revital’s brother and asks why, after 9/11, did she live so close to danger, he replies that his sister may have wondered why Sachs would live in New York with two daughters. Exact dates announce moments and movements–Nov. 12, 2002, December 10, 2002, Feb. 27, 2005, March 1, 2005—but rather than indicate a chronological movement of history the dates suggest ruptures and gaps in the difficult effort to comprehend the everyday current of a present through the ruins of a past. Like dates of a daily newspaper, these dates threaten to become only fragments of the past.

Materialized as found footage, old home movies, and rebroadcast television news, history surfaces in the course of the film as the shifting and superimposed constellations of different geographies, textualities, time zones, and imagistic fabrics. News broadcasts of war, home movies of Revitale and her son, videos of the daycare center day after the death of two children, Nir’s filmed interview of Avi, clips of Revital’s own films Young Poetry and It Happens So Often, together create a fractured montage of the past and the present, the public and the personal, which even images of the luxurious beauty of abundant olive groves and Sachs’s readings of Biblical histories are unable to harmonize and resolve as anything but clashes across a geography that “drives people mad” and where individuals “on both sides of the green line” live with death minute to minute. Even the everyday waivers and cracks: shots of a soldier walking the streets are slowed and disrupted by small jumps cuts, and street scenes tilt out of focus or tip within canted frames. Like an endless war, these states of unbelonging have no place in which a self can be situated and clearly articulated. It is rather a state of perilous expectations or, as Revitale’s husband describes it, a place of such intense longing that there is simply nowhere to locate the extreme sorrow of that longing.

In this current of unbelonging, however, Sachs simultaneously discovers and creates an image of recognition, the image of an agency that is in fact the face and history of the film itself.  Early in the film, her voice-over describes a hesitant, fearful, and divided self, doubled in fact as the reflection of Rivetal, that other woman, mother, and filmmaker. Throughout this first part of the film, Sachs’s presence assumes, despite its centrality, almost a marginal position. Watching, commenting, reading, she is ubiquitously there, but the film never provides a full image of her, only parts of her (hands, hair, and partial glimpses). Gradually, though, she begins to emerge as a recognizable presence and body, first in a café interview with Revitale’s brother, Rossi. Later, a full shot of her shows her adjusting her camera, and then a close up focuses on her as she places the rock on the grave of Revitale, a gesture which, while an act of mourning, also describes, I believe, an act of mutual recognition.

Sachs’s gradual assumption of an agency here, as part of a recognized bond with Revitale, depends on and provokes two related actions: her turning off the television and her decision to go to Israel. They are complimentary actions, suggesting, first, her refusal to participate in the media’s empty flow of current events and, second, her choice to enter the current of real events. Unlike Revitale whom Rossi describes as living in “a bubble” on her kibbutz, not reading or watching the news and not wanting to know, Sachs chooses ultimately to “know” as an investigation beyond the news, and her words and voice quickly assume a declarative rhetoric that confronts the alienating collage of abstracted images of the televised streets in Israel. Two titles on the screen describe at once her hesitation and decision: “I don’t think there’s any way I can go to Israel,” immediately followed by “I don’t think there’s anyway I cannot go to Israel.” On March 1, 2005, she announces, “I’ve stopped watching television all together. I have a rock to put on her grave.”

What is most significant about this transition is, I believe, that it is act of will and mind to overcome the paralysis and distance of world events. Earlier Avi observes that “When you see those pictures coming from Israel everyday, you stop seeing it as something that’s happening to people and you start approaching it as” a big event in the corner of the world, as part of a “geographic farness makes you numb.” It is precisely that numbness before the geographic farness of media events that Sachs’s engages and chooses to physically and mentally overcome. Remarking on a world of bombs and explosions constantly flowing across the news from Israel to Istanbul to Iraq, Sachs thinks out loud in a flash of recognition and participation:  “Any shake up on the surface of the earth dislodges my equilibrium. Newspapers drape us with the news of another person’s death. When scanning a page of horrors, … an open window onto the spectacle of killing. A gust of wind and I almost smell it.” As she leaves for the Middle East, she will not be “a war photographer,” and, unlike the endless stream of news reports, she is “not going to Israel to shoot a film.” Hers is a decision to experience that world as an active agency outside images in search for knowledge, a knowledge that will presumably extend her beyond the boundaries of not just New York or Israel but of her own self and her own film. Avi remarks earlier that for Revitale “no matter what choice you make it’s the right choice,” and here Sachs’s choice becomes, not too far from that of Ari in Waltz with Bashir, the critical choice to be the changing agent of her own destiny, which is inextricably also the destiny of her children.

If recognition, expectation, and choice are the cornerstones of essayistic investigations, their agency becomes positioned in State of UnBelonging through Sachs to the many children in the film as the emblems of choice and anticipatory expectation. Sachs’s identification with Revitale as a filmmaker most obviously functions as a point of subjective transference and transformation whereby she remakes the filmmaker’s death and the found footage of Revitale’s films as she incorporates them into herself and her own film. A second, and probably more important, point of identification, though, occurs with Revitale’s children and Sach’s two daughters who appear in the opening and closing sequences and sporadically through the film. Images of these and other children and their loss suffuse the film: a videotape of the day care center where young boys and girls work to process the death of their former classmates, a child plays in extreme foreground of an image while Jewish children play in street on a large monitor in the background. In one shot, a corner of an otherwise black image contains only the image of a terrified child.

In the final sequence, these images of children crystallize in an almost naive flash of insight and awareness, as the film returns to the New York living room that opened the film, now brightly lit. Before the television news in background, a daughter’s voice recounts the tale of Abraham and the casting out of Ishmael that she and her sister heard from Sachs that morning. When Sachs asks her daughters how they think the two separated brothers in the tale felt, one daughter responds that she thinks they could have learned to live together. The daughter then continues with a simple question that is the kind of question rarely asked of those current events whose past moves relentlessly through the present into the future: “Who sent them into the desert?” The film then cuts to high-angle shot of the daughter sitting down in front of a silent television. In this crisis to know and to act, States of UnBelonging, like Benjamin, concludes with the recognition that “To write history means giving dates a physiognomy” (Arcades 476).

States of UnBelonging Transcript

in collaboration with NIR ZATS
63 minutes

Hebrew spoken by children

“When I am big and someone dies, I am going to go to the funeral.”

“You can put a doll on the grave, just like in the story.’

Dear Lynne,

I patiently wait for the sand to sink, for the water to get clear.

Israel is a very small place and in a way very isolated. Being surrounded by

hostility is definitely getting to me. The hostility of war and terror and the hostility of people’s aggressiveness toward each other. So much hatred.

It is hard for me to become involved as an activist. For now catching up with the headlines over coffee in the morning is enough.

Every now and then I consider coming back to New York, being a student again, carrying a camera.

Hope you are well,


Dear Nir,

Do you ever have the feeling that the history you are experiencing has no shape?

Even as a teenager I was obsessed with history’s shifts and ruptures. Wars helped us order time. A war established beginnings and endings. There is “before”. There is “during”. There is “after”.



LYNNE: Hey, Nir, did I wake you up?

NIR: No, I’m fine.

LYNNE: I just wanted to tell you about this article I read today in the Times that upset me so much. It was about a woman who reminded me of myself. Her name was Revital Ohayon. She was a filmmaker, a teacher, a mother. She was killed on a Kibbutz, Kibbutz Metzer. What do you know about it?

NIR: Oh, yes, it was horrible. Have you heard the details of the story, what happened, that terrorists got into her home when she was at home at night with her two kids and actually shot them. I will think about it and right you more things.

LYNNE: Alright, bye for now.

NIR: Bye, bye.


On my map, Metzer is not far from Jenin, only a thumb’s distance from the kibbutz. Isn’t Jenin a Palestinian refugee camp, the site of killings? All I know is its destruction.

November 15, 2002

How are you Lynne?

Living in Israel is closely related to Buddhist thinking. The encounter with death is so immediate in Israel. You have to be prepared for your own death. As grim as it sounds, it’s just statistics.

Thoughts about death cross people’s minds on a minute to minute basis. Imagine the terror and fear in people’s minds on the other side of the Green Line, on the other side of the Wall.

Yes, I know about Revital. Everyone is talking about it. Did you know her husband heard the gun shots over the phone?

Yours, Nir

Dear Nir,

I’ve made so many phone calls to Kibbutz Metzer. Today I finally reached an elderly secretary. “Yes”, she told me, “this is the Kibbutz where Revital Ohayon lived and was killed.” The woman didn’t seem to know more than that.

I wonder what they make at the Kibbutz factory – jars of pickles, buttons, machine parts?


NIR: Hello Lynne, did I tell you that I saw Revital’s husband, it was on the news, on the weekend broadcast, and they interviewed him about what he was going through, and since you were interested in her I was trying to think about what he’s actually going through….

I have the number for her former husband, Avi Ohayon, the man who heard it all from his phone, as the killing happened.


NIR: ….for me usually it’s very alienated, you read the news, you see what happened, but you’re not going to the families of the casualties and asking how they feel, or putting yourself in their situation….

Dear Lynne

Did you know that this week is the Jerusalem Film Festival?

Parallel to it is the Ramallah International Film Festival. Ramallah is a big city on the Palestinian side of the border. I wish I could visit to show my films and also to see film in a theater over there. I would have a drink in the local Palestinian café. See a life that is so close to me and yet so far away. Separated and strange.

It exists as the Palestinian town from the news. I can only imagine, of course, since I have never visited myself. It is quite impossible for me as an Israeli to experience Ramallah.

Ramallah Dreaming.


August 18, 2003

Dear Nir,

I need you to somehow get your hands on her movies, and also to photograph the land for me, as Revital would have experienced it – the kibbutz, Haifa where she grew up, the Northern coast, Tel Chai where she went to film school.

I am not asking you as a teacher, but as a friend. Did you know that I have never been to Israel? I missed those few moments of peace.


August 20, 2003


It sounds so sad when I read your words, “I missed the few years of peace.” Like missing an old relative that passed away and will never return. I was drafting a message to you when your mail arrived. How can I describe my feelings? It’s all not so clear. I remember the opening sentence from Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, “I can feel the heat closing in.”


Write soon, tell me what you can do, And, no, this isn’t another assignment, just a request from a friend. Really.


By now I think I must have called at least fifty times, only to hear a series of Hebrew numbers recited to me, like a wall of digits forbidding my entrance. If Avi is not reachable, I tell myself that he wants nothing to do with the me, that he has withered with sadness, or that his phone has merely been turned off.

August 25, 2003


I called Avi in Tel Aviv again this morning. He is so kind, almost at ease, willing to talk. Yes, he told me, she was just about to finish a film about the “generation gap.” There are so many gaps between us, she was only trying to fill one, with her filmmaking.

I’ve been waiting for eight months to see her movies. Will you go to his home, ask him for the tapes, talk to him, and yes, take your camera? Tell me what happens,



I was walking by myself in Metzer this morning.

For a minute, I thought about the terrorist coming towards me.

I protected myself by holding the Super 8 camera in its pistol grip. Transformed

it into an Uzi machinegun.

Then, I came back to my senses, saw an old woman hoeing her garden. Behind the double barbed-wire fence the open fields spread wide open.

More soon,


I mention Revital’s story to my friend Deborah. I had no idea that she had a personal connection to the kibbutz. Thirty years ago she’d been one of those idealistic American Jewish youths looking for a new way of living, communally, in Israel. Deborah lived on Kibbutz Metzer in 1972, the same place, a very different time.


I don’t think there are very many places where the Arab village and the kibbutz are truly living side by side. And there always was a really good relationship between village and the kibbutz. And the very first at had coffee was in the village at Muhammad’s mother’s house. Of course, in Arab house you are always offered coffee and you can’t say no and I have never drunk a cup of coffee before.

The kibbutz was built literally on the dividing line of the West Bank. In fact the and the banana groves we used to work in the banana groves sometimes picking the bananas we were actually in the west bank. And the way that the… the road bet Haifa and Tel Aviv was here. If you went left, you went straight into the village of Metzner and if you went straight and kind of to the right you went to the Kibbutz Metzer.

If the Arabs from the village came to the kibbutz there needed to be a reason for them to come to the kibbutz. Where as if the villagers walked passed the village – if the kibbutzniks walked passed the village they were just walking towards the bus stop.

Going into the west back then was an incredible thing.


It was like going to a different country. I mean this was 1973 there was barely – they weren’t even occupied. I mean they were occupied in that Israel controlled them militarily but there were no Israelis there. I mean look at all these villages. There are so many villages. There’s tons and tons. And I bet most of them are gone. This is all around Jerusalem.

I don’t think that they’re anymore, this is all Israeli now.

And when they build this fence between the West Bank and Israel it will probably run right through those banana plantations unless they do what they probably will do which is make a road around them so that the Israelis get the banana plantations and the Arab farmers wont be able to cultivate their crops

Listen to this: Israeli -Arab armistices in 1949 partition. Palestine. Since June 1967, Israeli forces have occupied Sinai, Gaza, all of Jordan and most of the Jordan River and a small area in southwest Syria. So of course it is all of Jordan and most of the Jordan River that we are talking about. And Metzer was just on that border.


Hello Lynne. HI NIR. I finally met Avi, Revital’s husband, at the Kibbutz. YOUR KIDDING. Yes, he brought her tapes, and I brought my camera. YOU ACTUALLY MET AVI, YOU ACTUALLY GOT THE FILMS. IT’S BEEN A YEAR SINCE… THAT I’VE BEEN WAITING. I saw the kibbutz, the house was living, where she was killed. I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS.


She was the kind of person that had to find the exactly right path for her that the way of life that she believes is the only way of life that is right. That is the only way of life that is correct and right for her to live in. And so she struggled are her life to create that path to be able to have a career and to have the most amazing children and to make a path that nothing would come – would hurt the other goal.

Her movie was about three girls that didn’t know each other that met in a coincidence one day. And they went together on a trip and it was the first time that each one of them realized that she doesn’t like what she does in her life. All three of them are living a life that someone else dictated to them. One of them was a married woman with 3 children. The other one had a shop. The third one was a secretary. They had to help one another and by that they understood about themselves.

Her movies will not give an answer at the end of the movie but will make you put a question mark in the right places. To think ok I saw but who do I relate to, who do I think I behave like, who do I think make the right decision for me as a viewer. And even more I think that the goal, as I know Revital, that whatever choice you make it’s the right choice.

September 10, 2003

Dear Lynne

Now I’m testing my senses and trying to capture images of my living environment. Sending it oversees to you. Like caging wild animals.


Yossi: So where would you like me to begin?

Lynne: Maybe who she was.

Yossi: Who she was? I think I realized who she was only after the funeral. There were SO many people…. throughout sitting Shiva.

I keep thinking Yossi might have been a man I’ve walked past on the sidewalk, rubbed elbows with on the subway. If I could actually hear the tragedy of a violent death caused by hate, the gunshot, the explosion, months later in the minds of a family-member, would I be able to detect such an emotion as I sit next to a stranger? I ask him why Revital chose to live so close to the border of the West Bank. I’m contemplating the degrees by which we measure danger. She might have wondered why I stay in New York City with my 2 girls after September 11th. What does it mean to call a place home, like a squirrel burrowed in a tree she knows is just a leap from the hole of a fox.



TEACHER: Yesterday I was at the funeral for Matan and Noam. Do you know what a funeral is? The word funeral comes from Lelavot, to accompany. We accompany the dead to their grave. Then we bury them.

BOY: A grave is only in the ground.

TEACHER: What does a grave look like? When you bury someone what do you cover it with?

GIRL: A grave is only made of dirt. If someone dies, you don’t leave them at home. There is too much blood.

BOY: You need to dig a hole in the earth. You cover them with dirt just like you cover carrot seeds. Then you put a sign with their names on the grave.

BOY: I saw the terrorist who killed Noam and Matan on TV. Do you want to hear something about the terrorist? He has a brain of a chickadee and the common sense of a dog. LAUGHTER

I met a girl in summer camp in 1971. She was tall, lanky with blonde hair, very nice, quiet. One August afternoon, around my birthday, she confided to me that her father had been shot down in an air force plane in Vietnam. It was as if she’d told me that she had leprosy. I was so terrified I really couldn’t talk to her, or even stand near her, the rest of the summer.

TEACHER: We have things of Matam and Noam here. We have their dolls, their pacifiers, their drawings, tooth brushes.

CHILD: We have to take the stuff out so we can remember them, so that we don’t worry about them.

GIRL: If I take things out it will make me sad.

BOY: We are going to see the story again tonight on the news.

September 12, 2003


Now is the month of Elul, a time of repentance and reconciliation before Yom Kippur.

Such an intense period of prayer – -Selihot — a request for forgiveness.

There is this custom of lighting Ner Neshama (a soul candle) on Yom Kippur. A candle for the dead that lasts for 24 hours.

Yona Wallach wrote about it:

“My awareness is fading away, like a soul candle ….”

I like the way her poems sound in Hebrew.

(Yamim Noraim — DAYS OF AWE)

I wonder what this all means to you.



Today I started to read Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish. Do you know it? I got the book a long time ago for 99 cents on St. Marks Place. Why did I start reading it today all of a sudden?


AVI: She was lucky to go with them and maybe even luck was not the issue here because there’s no other way, there’s no other possibility that they would have gone without her or that she would have one without them. All three of them were one all the time.

February 24, 2004


This morning I finally met Revital’s mother at Yossi’s apartment here in New York. She offered me a delicious cup of berry tea she brought from her home in Haifa. It’s divine, with such a powerful aroma like walking in a field.


REVITAL’S MOTHER IN HEBREW: She believed that everything that is happening was not supposed to happen. That expressions from our nation could show the world that this is nonsense. This isn’t supposed to be happening. It’s very important that peace pervades. She took care of people at work, in the army. She wanted everything to be perfect.

YOSSI (R”S BROTHER): I asked her how she could possibly live in this country. I mean this constant stress is unbelievable. So she just created her own bubble and she used that bubble with her two little boys and she blocked herself to the environment and she moved to that little kibbutz where she has a little garden and they plant trees and flowers and she doesn’t read the news, she doesn’t watch the news,. I mean she doesn’t watch the news. And unless something close happenedd to them, the rest she is just oblivious to it.

That Passover was, was one of the bloodiest times of the Intifadah, the uprising. There was a terror attack almost on a daily basis, sometimes two times a day. How can you raise kids in this kind of atmosphere. They knew so much about what was going on.

She tried to keep herself separated from this whole craziness and yet she ended up being a casualty of war.

MOTHER: Well first of all the way it happened, he, the terrorist, managed to jump into her most intimate room where she was with her kids. She covered her kids with her body. They don’t want to give us the details. We didn’t see the pictures but what we heard was that she was screaming “Don’t kill them, just kill me!” That’s what the neighbors heard. They found her hugging her kids. I think that was the most tragic image, the one that moved the world. The Minister of Media sent that image around the world.

As a teenager, Revital used to go to the Judah Desert to learn about and photograph foxes and wolves. She was so interested in science. We thought that would be the direction she would go.

September 23, 2004


I keep growing here in Israel. Many things I would like to talk to you about. Did you know that the murderer of Revital was killed by the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force? I actually saw Avi Ohayon, Revital’s husband a few times on TV today.

The circle of grief hasn’t finished turning.

I learn and watch new aspects of reality every day. By living in my small environment I hope to generate a wave of sanity. I start inwards then I hope to get it out there one day.

Hope you are well,


Dear Nir,

I’ve been to Bosnia and Vietnam with my camera, made films there, looking for tell-tale signs of conflicts I’d never known. But those wars were over by the time I got there.

The difference between the peacefulness of the images you’re sending me and the hostility simmering outside the frame is so apparent to me. Are you trying to protect me, Nir? . The bombing of a tourist hotel in the Sinai a few months ago, the destruction of a home in the West Bank, the explosion yesterday in a Tel Aviv nightclub. Lynne

December 12, 2004


Today is Tu Bishvat, the birthday of the trees. An almond tree is blooming on Rotchild boulevard. It has white flowers and a really sweet smell.

I think that the olive tree grows very slowly. It has a long history here in Israel. Some are very old. Some have been here since before the country was even established. It has a very unique trunk, like sculpture, the color of bronze. The branch itself is mentioned in the Bible.

In the forest there are Cyprus and Pine and it seems as if they have been there forever, but in reality they were planted by a foundation. The making of a forest. A nation established. The concept of a nation to stay. Marking territory.

My bible teacher used to point to Jewish law: if a soldier needs to cut down an olive tree, he must have permission from a very highly ranked officer in the army.

In my head I compare the status of a person and a tree…. you don’t need special permission to shoot someone if there is a threat, but you need high authority to damage an olive tree. Olive is the color of the soldier’s uniform.


AVI: My children were four and five. They loved to hear the Muezzin from the village next to Metzer.


Some go through the bottom others go over the top or squeeze through the middle of the wall Israel is building to stop suicide bombers from getting into Jerusalem.

So far, all the wall does, say the Palestinians of Abu Dis where the wall cuts their village in half, has ruined their lives. Israel’s plan is a combined wall and fence to run about 350 miles around most of the West Bank patrolled by police chiefs this part will run 38 miles near eastern Jerusalem with electronic sensors. Rada Audi who has breast cancer must sneak through the wall to get to her clinic and to get to work but it will get worse one day she won’t able to even do that.

RADA: They are forcing us to hate them and it is a very bad thing.

BYSTANDER (off camera): There has to be a better way than to split a village

Eventually the wall won’t only split Abu Dis and it won’t only cut Palestinians off from Israel. Through large parts of the West Bank it will cut off Palestinians from Palestinians.

This is the land that devours it own, I’ve read and read again in the Bible. The land of hyenas and jackals and doves, perpetually dry or consumed by water. It is a land I know now, but only anciently. At last, I can follow the green line with my finger, but I have yet to feel its actual bumps and crevices.

Hello Lynne

When I was 14 yrs old, I took a trip with a summer camp to Ein Gedi, a nature preserve in the desert, next to the Dead Sea. Our bus stopped at a slaughter house to pick up a brown cardboard box filled with little, weak, yellow chicks. As the sun was going down, we drove into the wilderness of the desert. In the darkness, we let the chicks loose and stepped away. Then we illuminated the area with light and waited with binoculars. The night animals started to show up. First the wolves, then the foxes, and when they were done the hyenas and the vultures came to eat the leftovers.


I’ve been reading the Bible incessantly, compulsively, looking for those few phrases that might give credence to a landscape that makes normal people go mad.


AVI OHAYON: Last summer they went to the seashore with Revital. There was a fight between Arabs and Israelis at the beach. One of the guys from the Arab group was hurt and he was bleeding. He ran to the parking where Revital and the children just arrived. She immediately started to call; she rushed him in the car and took him to the hospital. When I heard about it, when she told me what happened, I asked her, “Are you crazy?”


REVITAL’S MOTHER: She really didn’t have a childhood. She missed adolescence. She matured very quickly. At our house there was no middle ground, she had to do everything fully. No easy ways to do things. No compromises.

February 27, 2005


I’m watching Haifa now, imagining Revital’s childhood in this city, the place where you’ve told me a Jewish girl and an Arab girl might have played together.

Bombs are exploding everywhere this afternoon. The sound is deafening but I can’t hear a thing. Israel. Istanbul. Iraq. Any shake-up on the surface of the earth dislodges my sense of equilibrium.

Newspapers drape us with the numbers of another person’s death. When scanning a page of horrors, I do not grope for mirrors. An open window onto the spectacle of killing. A gust of wind and I almost smell it.


TEACHER: Nora can’t have Matan and Noam’s things under her bed. At a certain point, we have to separate from Matan and Noam. We have to collect their things. What can we do with them? What are they?


TEACHER: We will have to ask their father what he wants to do with them. What are we going to do with their sheets, pillows, drawings? Do you have any ideas?

GIRL: Give them to their father so he has them in his house.

We can’t leave them outside.

AVI:The pain is so big but still you do not know where to put it ‘ cause you don’t know that kind of pain. You never felt if before. I never felt it before. I couldn’t relate to it in myself because I didn’t know where to put it. It is a different kind of pain you don’t know from before..

R’S MOTHER: During the whole month of sitting Shiva and also during the funeral, it always rained, but every time we arrived at the grave, it would stop raining.

YOSSI (R’S BROTHER) : It happened to us in the funeral. It happened to us in the seven days of the unveiling and it also happened in the 11 months. And the day of the anniversary, we went to the cemetery, the rain stopped. three pigeons actually that landed on the stone, the tombstones, while we were there, while we were saying the prayer for the anniversary… it was like a message from our sister, sending three doves onto the tombstone…

March 1, 2005

I‘ve stopped watching television all together, Nir. I have a rock to put on her grave. I arrive in Tel Aviv on Wednesday at 3:55 PM. Lynne



This is the land that devours it own, I’ve read and read again in the Bible. The land of hyenas and jackals and doves, perpetually dry or consumed by water. It is a land I know now, but only anciently. At last, I can follow the green line with my finger, but I have yet to feel its actual bumps and crevices.

Hello Lynne

When I was 14 yrs old, I took a trip with a summer camp to Ein Gedi, a nature preserve in the desert, next to the Dead Sea. Our bus stopped at a slaughter house to pick up a brown cardboard box filled with little, weak, yellow chicks. As the sun was going down, we drove into the wilderness of the desert. In the darkness, we let the chicks loose and stepped away. Then we illuminated the area with light and waited with binoculars. The night animals started to show up. First the wolves, then the foxes, and when they were done the hyenas and the vultures came to eat the leftovers.


I’ve been reading the Bible incessantly, compulsively, looking for those few phrases that might give credence to a landscape that makes normal people go mad.


AVI OHAYON: Last summer they went to the seashore with Revital. There was a fight between Arabs and Israelis at the beach. One of the guys from the Arab group was hurt and he was bleeding. He ran to the parking where Revital and the children just arrived. She immediately started to call; she rushed him in the car and took him to the hospital. When I heard about it, when she told me what happened, I asked her, “Are you crazy?”


REVITAL’S MOTHER: She really didn’t have a childhood. She missed adolescence. She matured very quickly. At our house there was no middle ground, she had to do everything fully. No easy ways to do things. No compromises.

February 27, 2005


I’m watching Haifa now, imagining Revital’s childhood in this city, the place where you’ve told me a Jewish girl and an Arab girl might have played together.

Bombs are exploding everywhere this afternoon. The sound is deafening but I can’t hear a thing. Israel. Istanbul. Iraq. Any shake-up on the surface of the earth dislodges my sense of equilibrium.

Newspapers drape us with the numbers of another person’s death. When scanning a page of horrors, I do not grope for mirrors. An open window onto the spectacle of killing. A gust of wind and I almost smell it. Lynne

TEACHER: Nora can’t have Matan and Noam’s things under her bed. At a certain point, we have to separate from Matan and Noam. We have to collect their things. What can we do with them? What are they?


TEACHER: We will have to ask their father what he wants to do with them. What are we going to do with their sheets, pillows, drawings? Do you have any ideas?

GIRL: Give them to their father so he has them in his house.

We can’t leave them outside.

AVI:The pain is so big but still you do not know where to put it ‘ cause you don’t know that kind of pain. You never felt if before. I never felt it before. I couldn’t relate to it in myself because I didn’t know where to put it. It is a different kind of pain you don’t know from before..

R’S MOTHER: During the whole month of sitting Shiva and also during the funeral, it always rained, but every time we arrived at the grave, it would stop raining.

YOSSI (R’S BROTHER) : It happened to us in the funeral. It happened to us in the seven days of the unveiling and it also happened in the 11 months. And the day of the anniversary, we went to the cemetery, the rain stopped. three pigeons actually that landed on the stone, the tombstones, while we were there, while we were saying the prayer for the anniversary… it was like a message from our sister, sending three doves onto the tombstone…

March 1, 2005

I‘ve stopped watching television all together, Nir. I have a rock to put on her grave. I arrive in Tel Aviv on Wednesday at 3:55 PM. Lynne




NIR:A group of a hundred or more religious men are marching down the street, chanting loudly. Can you hear it? The time is 6pm on a Friday evening, quite an unusual sound to hear at this time, something alarming about it, like a revolution.

Time is so poignant now. The right wing blocked a highway on Tuesday ,

Tomorrow the left wing is having a support demonstration at city hall.

LYNNE: It is warm, so peaceful in Tel Aviv, and yet as the sun comes down I hear that unusual chant of prayer from the street. What does it mean?


We just finished the 30 days mourning. It was raining, it was like a message from my sister, sending three doves into the tombstone. By the time we got back home, we received a phone call from the military spokeswoman who gave us the good… I don’t know if it’s good or bad, gave us the news that the murderer who killed my sister and two nephews was ambushed and killed.

AVI: I think Revital knew about life, knew what’s important in life, what I only learned after they went. I think I had to suffer the loss of all three of them to start understanding what she already knew. It’s like the place you’re coming from, trying to do something that is very personal. When you see those pictures coming from Israel each and every day, you stop looking at it as something that happens to people; and you start approaching it as a big thing that goes over in a small corner of the world, but there’s people involved.

If the geographic farness makes you numb and you can’t feel it, it will reach you too. It will happen in Iraq, in Iran, in Syria, in New York, in Madrid, in Ireland, and it will only stop when we start going back to our feelings, and try to relate to the fact that there is a person that could have been my friend, that could have been the brother or sister of someone who just rode with me on the subway. It could be me.

Dear Nir,

I cannot remember if the sun was shining or if I was wearing a sweater, or if I had a cup of tea in my hand when I picked up the newspaper on November 12, 2002. I only know that I saw anguish. My daughters heard the story of Abraham and his two sons this morning for Rosh Hashonah .


NOA: Abraham wanted a child so badly. He was 100 years old as was his wife Sarah, and there didn’t seem to be a chance. So Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands. He had a son with Hagar, the Arab maid. They named him Ishmael. Then, miraculously, Sarah too became pregnant and gave birth to Abraham’s second son, Isaac. Sarah was jealous of Hagar whose son would always be able to lay claim to being Abraham’s first born. So Abraham asked God to send Hagar and her baby boy to a far off land. God said to Abraham: “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation.”

NOA: Since his son had to go in the desert, he must have been really sort of mad.

LYNNE: Who was mad?

NOA: Abraham.

LYNNE: Abraham was mad…

NOA: …because his son had to go in the desert.

LYNNE: Yeah, and how do you think the brothers’ felt that they were separated?

NOA: How do you think?

LYNNE: I think they could have gotten along and lived in the same house together even though they both had different mothers.

NOA: Did, umm, did, did,…who sent them into the desert?


All the best, Lynne