Tag Archives: Still Life with Woman & Four Objects

“Still Life with Woman and Four Objects” & “Investigation of a Flame” to screen in Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs

Announcing the Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs!
May 3, 2022
https://canyoncinema.com/2022/05/03/announcing-the-canyon-cinema-discovered-programs/

We’re thrilled to finally announce the screening line-ups for our inaugural Canyon Cinema Discovered programs, which will debut this fall in San Francisco and online. Stay tuned for details!

Prime Time Reverie
Curated by Aaditya Aggarwal
From cosmetic commercials to women-led talk shows to narrative melodrama, television catered to feminized viewers is a formally diverse genre, nudging, socializing, and mirroring its spectators in intimate and discerning ways. Capturing the urgent, anchoring spirit of prime time telecasts, Prime Time Reverie stages a fragmented history of television as a women’s medium. The works in this program engage multiple tides of broadcasting, from soapy to confessional, from sensationalist to documentarian. Weaving an absent or corporeal presence through each work, televised portrayals of womanhood—hermetic, large, versatile—incite daydreams among a mass populace, flirting with histories of technology, desire, and visuality. 

  • Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (Cauleen Smith, 1992)
  • No No Nooky TV (Barbara Hammer, 1987)
  • Removed (Naomi Uman, 1999)
  • Waiting for Commercials (Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut, 1966-72, 1992)
  • No Land (Emily Chao, 2019)
  • MTV Artbreak (Dara Birnbaum, 1986)
  • Kiss the Girls: Make Them Cry (Dara Birnbaum, 1979)
  • That Woman (Sandra Davis, 2018)
  • 10:28,30 (Paige Taul, 2019)
  • Still Life with a Woman and Four Objects (Lynne Sachs, 1986)

Playing in the Dark: Watery Experiments
Curated by Chrystel Oloukoï

Playing in the Dark engages the various ways in which blackness haunts the sea and is haunted by the sea. Borrowing from Toni Morrison, “playing in the dark” references the subdued Africanist presence which mediates imaginations of water in the wake of variegated yet entangled transoceanic slave trades but also takes seriously darkness as a subversive ecological milieu, against lures of transparency. In the works gathered here, nothing is left untouched by the confounding qualities of water and its corrosive opacities, from bodies to the environment, to the materiality of film itself. As such, “playing in the dark” also references attempts in Black experimental filmmaking to chart paths in which cameras do not write with light but probe shadows in search of  “an aesthetics of turbulence whose corresponding ethics is not provided in advance” (Glissant, Poetics of Relation).

  • By the Sea (Toney W. Merritt, 1982)
  • What the Water Said Nos. 1-3 (David Gatten, 1998)
  • Aqua (Samba Félix N’diaye, 1989)
  • The Dislocation of Amber (Hussein Shariffe, 1975)
  • Giverny I (Négresse Impériale) (Ja’Tovia Gary, 2017)
  • Pattaki (Everlane Moraes, 2019)
  • What the Water Said Nos. 4-6 (David Gatten, 2006-07)
  • Towards the Colonies (Miryam Charles, 2016)
  • Song for the New World (Miryam Charles, 2021)

Trajectories of Self-Determination: Experimental Cinema’s Embrace of Jazz
Curated by Juan Carlos Kase

Experimental cinema has long embraced American vernacular music as a generative model, whether it supplied a formal template, an affective inspiration, or a point of cultural reference. From the collective polyphony of Charles Mingus’ kinetic ensembles to the gale and squall of Joe McPhee’s storming cornet, the improvisational energies of jazz – as well as blues and other popular-modernist musics – have continued to inspire American avant-garde filmmakers. Collectively, the films in this program explore the myriad ways in which experimental cinema has drawn from African-American improvised music and embraced its spontaneous, collaborative, polyrhythmic, and lyrical energies.

  • Dufus (aka Art) (Mike Henderson, 1970/72)
  • Up and Atom (Doug Wendt, 1970)
  • Not a Music Video (Toney W. Merritt, 1987)
  • Pilgrim (Cauleen Smith, 2017)
  • Mirror Animations [Film #11] (Harry Smith, 1957)
  • 28.IV.81 (Bedouin Spark) (Christopher Harris, 2009)
  • The Clown (Donna Cameron, 1998)
  • Many Thousands Gone (Ephraim Asili, 2015)
  • Four Women (Julie Dash, 1975)
  • All My Life (Bruce Baillie, 1966)

Insurgent Articulations
Curated by Ekin Pinar

A strong interest in the social, political, and cultural contexts has always been part and parcel of a good variety of experimental filmmaking practices, even though canonical works on experimental cinema tend to focus solely on the formal explorations that supposedly reflect the filmmaker’s own (hermetic) subjectivity. Because of this exclusive focus on formal experimentation, the socio-historical, cultural, and representational politics, ethics, and concerns of much experimental work remained unnoticed until recently. Focusing on the theme of the aesthetics of socio-political unrest and protest, this program showcases examples of experimental filmmaking that fictionally constructed or experimentally reconstructed in formally explorative and reflexive ways demonstrations, rallies, marches, and sit-ins.

  • Pig Power (Single Spark Films, 1969)
  • Demonstration ’68 (Dominic Angerame, 1968-74)
  • Solidarity (Joyce Wieland, 1973)
  • Sisters! (Barbara Hammer, 1973)
  • New Left Note (Saul Levine, 1968-82)
  • Gay Power, 1971/2007/2012 (Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett, and The Women’s Liberation Cinema, 2012)
  • On the nature of the bone (Elena Pardo, 2018)
  • A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message (Rhea Storr, 2018)
  • B.L.M. (Toney W. Merritt, 2020)

Supplemental screening:

  • Investigation of a Flame (Lynne Sachs, 2001)

Lynne’s Films Currently Streaming on Criterion, DAFilms, Fandor, & Ovid

Film About a Father Who available on Criterion Channel: https://www.criterionchannel.com/film-about-a-father-who

Available on DAFilms: https://americas.dafilms.com/director/7984-lynne-sachs
Drawn and Quartered
The House of Science: a museum of false facts
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
States of UnBelonging 
Same Stream Twice
Your Day is My Night
And Then We Marched 
Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor
The Washing Society
A Month of Single Frames
Film About a Father Who


Available on Fandor: https://www.fandor.com/category-movie/297/lynne-sachs/
Still Life With Woman and Four Objects
Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning
The Washing Society
The House of Science: a museum of false facts
Investigation of a Flame

Noa, Noa
The Small Ones
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
Atalanta: 32 Years Later
States of UnBelonging 

A Biography of Lilith
The Task of the Translator
Sound of a Shadow

The Last Happy Day
Georgic for a Forgotten Planet
Wind in Our Hair
Drawn and Quartered
Your Day is My Night

Widow Work 
Tornado 
Same Stream Twice


Available on Ovid: https://www.ovid.tv/lynne-sachs
A Biography of Lillith
Investigation of a Flame
The Last Happy Day
Sermons and Sacred Pictures
Starfish Aorta Colossus
States of Unbelonging
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
Your Day is My Night
Tip of My Tongue
And Then We Marched

A Year of Notes and Numbers

Lynne Sachs Delivers 2022 Les Blank Lecture at the BAMPFA

My I.O.U to the Real
2022 Les Blank Lecture

Berkeley Art Museum/ Pacific Film Archive
April 6, 2022

When Pacific Film Archive curator Kathy Geritz invited me to give the 2022 Les Blank Lecture, all of my experiences, challenges, obstacles and revelations regarding what constitutes the real came tumbling into my mind. I immediately confronted and embraced the life I’ve lead in the cosmos of the cinema, and more specifically my I.O.U, my gratitude, to that real for simply providing me with so much to think about and so much to record with my camera. 

Tonight, I will share with you a selection of observations I have made in the course of creating approximately 50 films, installations, live performances and web art projects. Whether a 90 second ciné poem or an 83 minute feature, I learned early-on that my process of making films must push me to engage directly with the people with whom I’m working in a fluid and attentive way. I’ve never been truly comfortable with the term “director” or the hierarchical configuration of a movie set. I am a filmmaker who looks for other committed artists who are willing to collaborate with me in an adventure. These inventive souls are not my crew. We talk. We listen to each other. I pay them for their time and expertise. And then we set off on a journey.

Of course there are the people in front of the camera, what many documentary makers refer to as their subjects. In narrative film, these are the actors or, thinking in the aggregate, the cast. Again I find both of these monolithic terms anathema, an insult to their human presence. From my very first 16mm film “Still Life with Women and Four Objects” made in 1986, I asked the woman, the star in the film, to extract herself from “the objects” in order to shake things up for me. I wanted her to shift away from simply being a living, breathing prop.  I invited her to bring something from her home that meant a great deal to her to our first day of shooting. She delivered a framed black-and-white photograph of early 20th century feminist-anarchist Emma Goldman. At the time, I had no idea who Emma was. I quickly learned. I, and with my four minute film, were forever changed. I’d claim for the better. I’ve been listening and learning from all the people involved in my films ever since.

This leads me to another perhaps more intricate form of entangling myself in the creative process. Between 2011 and 2013, I worked with seven Chinese immigrants between the ages of 55 and 80 living in the so-called “Chinatown” areas of NYC. Together, we made “Your Day Is My Night”, a hybrid documentary on their immigration experience and their lives in the place each of them calls home. Hybrid is the keyword here, for it was my interaction with these participants that sparked me to find a completely new approach to my documentary practice. I started this project with the intention of discovering more about these people’s lives through a series of one-on-one audio interviews. Then, I turned each of these conversations into a monologue that I gave back to each person so that they could perform their own lives by both memorizing their lines and also improvising, all in a dramatic context that gave them the freedom to express themselves, and a release from the intimidation and vulnerability of not knowing what would happen next. According to the seven people in my film, this in turn gave them the liberty to play with their spoken words with whim and impetuousness, not to feel indebted to the limitations of  their own historic realities. At my performers’ insistence, we ultimately moved the hybrid nature of the piece one step further. As a group, they pushed me to search for a story beyond their lives. They wanted me to make their job of articulating their experiences more interesting so I brought in one “wild card”, a Puerto Rican woman actor who would move into their shared, filmic apartment. Her arrival transformed the piece into a story that embraced each person’s immigration experience without being confined by it. 

Over a two year period, we took our live performance with film to homeless shelters, museums, universities and small theaters throughout New York City. I then turned our collective work into a film. From this experience, I learned that even a more conventionally narrative film is simply a documentation of a group of people making something together. My integration of a traditional observational mode with a more theatrical engagement gave me the chance to reflect on the work I had done over 25 years earlier, as the sound recordist on Trinh T. Minh-ha’s “Surname Viet Given Name Nam”. This  film also challenges monolithic notions of documentary truth. Some of you saw it in this very room when Minh-ha gave the 5th Annual Les Blank lecture.

I also wanted to share something about the exhibition of “Your Day is My Night” which adds another layer to our conversation around collaboration both within the film’s production structure and its exhibition.  The first evening that we presented this piece to an actual audience, there was a rather typical post-screening Q and A.  There I stood with all of the participants in the film. When members of the audience asked these seven Chinese immigrants to the US how they felt about working on this rather experimental film, they all became quiet, then they whispered together and a few minutes later, one spokesperson came forward to say simply “We do what Lynne tells us to do.”  There was a hush in the room. No one knew what to say. Honestly, I felt embarrassed, at a loss for what to do.  I put my microphone down, walked over to the group and explained that in the US it was okay for them to say whatever they wanted publicly, to express their feelings about their experiences without any punitive repercussions.  At the next screening, they each energetically took the mic from me. With the help of a translator, they articulated their own interpretation of our shared creative process.  Never before had they had the opportunity to talk so freely in public, in China or in the US.

The performers in “The Washing Society” which you will see tonight gave me another kind of gift in terms of their response to and expansion of my creative practice.  In 2014 and ’15, playwright Lizzie Olesker and I traipsed around New York City trying to record interviews with laundry workers. Most of them were recent immigrants who did not yet speak English or have their legal documents for living in the United States. Neither their bosses nor their husbands wanted them to talk to us. Thus, they refused to be on camera. So the two us confronted this “production obstacle” head-on. We conducted a series of informal non-recorded interviews and then we wrote a play that used  the stories we’d heard as source material for a live performance and film.  We called it “Every Fold Matters”. We worked for over a year with four professional actors and dancers who were open to devising a strategy for making a site specific piece that would be performed in actual laundromats around the city. In the process, we borrowed from reality in order to create a new  hybrid reality.

Veraalba, one of our performers, was formally trained as a dancer but also deeply influenced by the radical choreographic gestures of feminist thinker and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer. Through her physical investigations of folding laundry, the piece gained an exhilarating gestural vocabulary that gave our show and then our film its rhythm and its musicality.

Jasmine, an actor in the film with traditional theater experience, embraced our whole, inclusive process so profoundly that she transformed herself from an eager, responsive actor into a generative contributor. One day during our rehearsals, she texted me with the words “I’ve been living with my grandmother Lulabelle all of my life but she never told me she had worked in a laundry from 1968 to 1998 until I started working with you all on this show.” A few days later, we were filming with Jasmine and her grandmother while she conducted the first documentary interview of her life. She asked her grandmother about her collective actions for better wages and working conditions. The openness of our process gave her the chance to find out more about the woman with whom she’d lived all her life.  In addition, this intimate cross-generational exchange between two women in a family gave a new layer to our film.

Now, I would like to take you on a journey through my aesthetic, material trajectory as an experimental documentary filmmaker. I need the word experimental here because it commits me to pursuing formal investigations of the medium. This is the only way that cinema can continually tackle, confront, even tickle my curiosity about the world. What is particular to me about cinema is its embrace of sound with, alongside, underneath and beyond image. In the late 1980s, I made my first longer format documentary “Sermons and Sacred Pictures”, a 30 minute portrait of Reverend L. O. Taylor, a Black Baptist minister who also shot 16mm film and collected sound recordings. At a certain point in the film, audiences are in total darkness while they hear the chatter of church congregants at a baptism in a river. At the time, this film was rejected for TV broadcast because the station producer assumed viewers would give up and turn off their televisions. Tonight I think about this film I made in my late 20s with a new perspective. I think at this moment about what theorist and poet Fred Moten calls “hesitant sociology”, and about the ways that we can integrate a propensity for abstraction into an endeavor to bring attention to a subject that might not have received its rightful place in history. Where do  education and exposition end and aesthetic rigor begin?  Do we necessarily lose the impact of the former when we give light to the later?

In “Which Way is East”, a diary film made in Vietnam in 1994, I begin with a series of richly colored Kodachrome brushstrokes juxtaposed with my own voice-over remembering what it was like to watch televised images of the war in the late 1960s.  As a six year old child, I would lie on the living room couch with my head hanging upside down watching the screen, inverting the images, unintentionally abstracting them somehow. At that age, I just barely understood the dismal war statistics I was hearing. Within my film,  I decided to make this oblique reference to the archival images of the Vietnam War rather than delivering actual illustrations from the time period. That was enough. I expected my audience to work hard to fill in this absence, a pointer to the horrifying collateral damage of the US involvement in Vietnam.  Each viewer has to reckon with their own relationship  to this history, as full or empty as it might be.  At the time, I was cognizant of Belgian filmmaker  Claude Lanzmann’s refusal to provide a visual proof in the form of archival footage from the concentration camps in his 1985 “Shoah”, an episodic series on the Holocaust. At that time in history, forty years after the end of World War II, he felt that that haunting power of those images would be even more searing if his audience had to rely on their internal repository. Just in the last year, I had the chance to read historian and theorist Tina M. Campt’s new book Listening to Images in which she prompts readers to look at archival footage in a way that forces us to hear what was never recorded, to bring our imaginations into the synthesis and recognition of a partial history that needs, at long last, a place in our communal consciousness. The lacunas are mended by my, your and our active modes of participation. Both Lanzmann and I resisted the inclusion of images of horror, cautious about our own complicity by including them, assuming their implicit power that comes from absence.  

Two weeks ago, I went to Berlin to shoot for a new film I am making called “Every Contact Leaves a Trace”.  I spent several days talking with an 80-year old German woman about many things, including the moment when she first became aware of the concentration camp atrocities that had been committed by the Nazis, the everyday men and women who lived in her own town.  She had the chance to watch archival footage of systematic killings and so much more in Alan Resnais’ 1956 documentary “Night and Fog”. It all became absolutely clear.  Here was the proof.  When I heard this woman speak of the potency of these images, I immediately asked myself if I had failed in my own work. I’d assumed the existence of an internal archive of the horrors of the Vietnam War.  In fact, it might not have been there, at least to a younger audience.  Had I failed in my own obligation to manifest a history that needed examination?

In addition to a deep involvement from my compatriots in front of and behind the camera, I have come to expect a parallel engagement with my audience. In order for a multi-layered cinematic experience to happen, there must be a “synaptic” event that transpires. Only through this internal occurrence can we register meaning. My awareness of the aperture inside the camera convinces me that we must find intimacy with light to accomplish this kind of charged flow from screen to eye.  I have had the same Bolex 16mm camera since 1987. I know her well and feel as if she knows me.

As we sit here together in this room, I would like to share with you just five images from my entire career as a filmmaker. They are part of my IOU to light, the only continuous collaborator who has remained with me for all of these years. 

This is an image from “Still Life  with Woman and Four Objects” (1986) a film falls somewhere between a painting and a prose poem. It’s a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts, interweaving history and fiction.  This is the film I mentioned earlier with the framed photo of Emma Goldman.

In this image of an avocado pit just peeled and prepared for growth, you see a slant of sunshine coming through a skylight in the ceiling.  This is the first time that I truly learned how to transform – via an awareness of aperture and f-stops – what the eye sees into something only the camera can witness.

In “Window Work” (2001) a woman drinks tea, washes a window, reads the paper– simple tasks that somehow suggest a kind of quiet mystery. I am the performer!

Here, my hermitic, domestic space is ruptured by a backlit newspaper. It glows. As cinematographer and performer, I discover how to sculpt light through silhouette.

In, “Your Day is My Night” (2013) immigrant residents of a “shift-bed” apartment in the heart of New York City’s Chinatown share their stories of personal and political upheaval.

Here light transforms Mr. Tsui’s profile into a gently sloping landscape. He fills the frame completely and in the process conveys awareness and presence.

Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, I  shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital images of my dad. “Film About a Father Who” (2020) is my attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. Here, my father has photographed three of my siblings playing in the water in the early ‘90s. 

This time worn image reveals my dad’s point of view. There is no detail. Only light and color affirm a quality of compassion and observation, simply through the texture.

This is one of the last shots from “Film About a Father Who”. It’s clearly a degraded piece of old video, having lost all of its color and detail. And yet, in its starkness, this high contrast black and white image evokes a pathos.  After spending 74 minutes with me in the film, viewers are able to fill in what is missing. 

In each of these light-sculpted images, I explore the concept of distillation which has always been at the foundation of my work.  I am an experimental filmmaker and a poet. Thus I am far more interested in the associative relationship between two things, two shots or two words than I am in their cause and effect, or their narrative symbiosis.  For me, a distillation is a container for ideas and energy, a concise manifestation of a multi-valent presence that does not depend on exposition. A distillation is not a metaphor; it’s more like metonymy and synecdoche, where a part stands in for a whole, and is just enough.

I once asked a student of mine why she wanted to make documentary films.  She told me that she wanted to make gifts.  Just that single word helped me to better understand the ways that this kind of practice can embrace so much about life.  Working with and beside reality allows us to feel relevant but also gives us the chance to share something we love with others. Through his engaged, compassionate, ingenious approach to filmmaking,  Les Blank gave us approximately 50 gifts. His vision of music, food, culture, and humanity came through every frame of film.

I too have made about 50 films, web art projects, performances and installations.  Like Les, each endeavor reveals my curiosity and awe for the world around me, my I.O.U to the Real.

Fandor – Lynne Sachs Spotlight

Women in Film: Lynne Sachs
Fandor Keyframe 
by CAROLINE MADDEN,
MARCH 24, 2022
https://keyframe.fandor.com/women-in-film-lynne-sachs/

Lynne Sachs is one of our most dynamic filmmakers and poets. Her captivating work is a medley of documentaries, essay films, hybrid live performances, and experimental shorts. With her use of vivid visuals and intricate sound, Sachs eagerly pushes formal boundaries. She crafts transfixing and intimate moving images that draw from her own emotional and social experiences — often through a feminist lens. For Women’s History Month, Fandor celebrates this fascinating female filmmaker and her insightful cinematic achievements. 

Can you tell me a bit about your background and what led you to filmmaking?

Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, it never occurred to me to be a filmmaker.  In fact,  that wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary.  I knew about movie directors and movie stars.  I thoroughly enjoyed the occasional European art film I might see on TV or on a Saturday matinée at a community center.  Then I discovered the brazen, irreverent, raw, improvised vision of Rainer Fassbinder and the internal, austere feminism of Chantal Ackerman. From that time on, I knew I wanted to make films.

Was there a particular moment or film that inspired you to become a filmmaker?

When I was a senior in high school in Memphis, Tennessee, I was able to see the films of Reverend L.O. Taylor, a Black minister, and filmmaker with an overwhelming interest in preserving the social and cultural fabric of his own community in the 1930s and ’40s. I spent that summer carrying a projector and stacks of Taylor’s films around to churches in Memphis where a group of us would ask small audiences to help us to identify the people in the films.  I was transfixed by this man’s work that ten years later when I too had decided to make films, I returned to Memphis to make Sermons Sacred Pictures (29 min., 1989, streaming on Fandor) on his life and work.

Seeing French filmmaker Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil was equally transformative for me.  This feature-length early 80’s essay film entered my soul. I immediately connected to its delicate mode of engaging with other cultures, its self-reflexive intensity, its compassion, its humor, and its unabashed doubt. Marker shot the film himself, so every frame reflects his vision, the way he saw and framed the world at a certain point in his own life.  I hadn’t known that this was even possible until I saw Sans Soleil.

What is special to you about shooting on film and do you feel something is lost in everyone’s transition to digital?

I see light differently when I am shooting with film.  When I was making Which Way is East (30 min. 16mm, color, 1994, streaming on Fandor), I traveled through Vietnam for one month carrying my Bolex camera and only 40 minutes of 16mm film stock. I had to wait for the light to find me in just the right way, simply because I could not waste a single frame.  By imposing this kind of cinematic awareness and discipline on myself, I learned to make each shot matter. 

I learned to engage with the medium’s ability to witness and express through knowledge of the lens and the celluloid.  I have tried to imbue my filmmaking practice with this kind of awareness ever since.  I don’t think I have yet accomplished this level of intimacy with my digital camera but I certainly try.  I still never “overshoot”, and find that less material with more striking images still works best for me.

After the 20th anniversary of September 11th, how do you feel looking back at your film Tornado

Tornado was very much made in the moment of September 11.  I shot this film the day after the attack on the Twin Towers.  Now we have so much knowledge of what it was all about, but at that moment those of us here in New York City were full of fear and confusion.  My two daughters were six and four years old on that day.  I made this film to help me work through their relationship to the towers, which they perceived as human beings. Their impulse as children was, surprisingly, to anthropomorphize the buildings themselves. They simply could not comprehend the real number of deaths. How could they imagine thousands of people’s lives, over, gone? 

In the film, you simply see me filming my hands rummaging through pages from a desktop calendar that had blown from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn that day.  It was so eerie, so tactile, so immediate.  Now 20 years later, I have perspective, an awareness of the whole history, but I also still feel deep sadness and loss.

Sound design plays a significant part in Tornado (the sounds of the bustling city, the crinkling of the paper, etc.) How do you approach sound design in your work?  

Thank you for your sensitivity to the aural aspect of Tornado (3 min. 2002).  While I do make feature-length films, this is one of my shortest, one of the films I made most quickly. It reflects the sensation of being alive right after a national crisis.  There were still ashes blowing in the air, and yet you see teenagers riding on skateboards and older Italian-American men playing cards in the park.  The sound gives an audience the chance to connect to this attempt by all of us to reconnect with what we perceived as normalcy.  Over the last two years, I have referred to the pandemic as daunting now.  The days right after 9/11 felt very similar.

Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning is a clever subversion of the male gaze. Can you talk about your inspiration for the film as well as the meaning of the title? 

You are very observant! During the time that I was making Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning (9 min., 1987, 16mm), I was in a women’s reading group where we were drinking a lot of tea and wine and devouring texts by Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan.   You probably won’t be surprised that I had just discovered Laura Mulvey’s essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema at that time. I do believe that she was the first person to develop a theory of the male gaze.  I needed to explore that in my own work, so that is exactly what I did in this film.

Still Life with Woman and Four Objects is your tribute to the anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman. It reminded me of Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman. I was wondering how feminism overall has impacted your filmmaking? 

Bingo!  As I mentioned earlier, Ackerman’s work was and is extremely important to me. Her depiction of a woman trapped by the domestic responsibilities of a single mother trying to make a go of it was a revelation to me.  I never thought of it before, but my Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (4 min., 1987, 16mm) image of a woman sitting at a table eating and slicing her food probably came right from my witnessing of Jeanne Dielman’s real-time preparation of a meal, in all it is protracted and aesthetically devised labor.  Thirty years later, I was equally inspired by this film in the making of The Washing Society (co-directed with Lizzie Olesker, 45 min., 2018) which is not only streaming on Fandor but also supported by it during our production.

A Biography of Lilith combines Jewish folklore, interviews, music, and poetry. Can you talk about the process of incorporating so many different art forms and inspirations into your film?  

Sometimes making my films gives me a great excuse to immerse myself in research and to see how all of the reading I do will influence my creative process. When I first heard the story of Lilith, I was shocked and thrilled to discover that this mythological figure from Jewish mysticism was born from the dirt, not Adam’s rib like Eve later would be. She became his first wife but was then thrown out of the Garden of Eden for wanting to be on top in sex. 

I was captivated by this story and all of the folklore that came with it, especially since new mothers were historically told to be afraid of Lilith. She was too willful and aware of her sexuality, which was exactly what attracted me.  I discovered Lilith when I was pregnant with my first daughter and finished the film right after I gave birth to my second. My film Biography of Lilith (1997, 35 min. 16mm) is a reflection of all the awe, fear, frustration, and excitement that was part of this experience.

That film is a meditation on your role as a mother. How does motherhood, as well as your perspective as a woman, inform your filmmaking? And vice-versa, how does being a filmmaker impact how view yourself as a mother? 

My two daughters Maya Street-Sachs (b. 1995) and Noa Street-Sachs (b. 1997) entered my life as an artist before they were even born through the making of Biography of Lilith.  I have made numerous films with them, including Photograph of Wind (3 min. 2001), Noa, Noa (8 min., 2006), The Last Happy Day (37. Min., 2009), and Wind in Our Hair (45 min., 2010) which are all streaming on Fandor. Our daughters enjoy performing and engaging with my filmmaking, or at least this is what they have told me.  By integrating my daughters into my life as an artist, I was able to engage with them both creatively and intellectually throughout their childhood.

Do you have any other projects on the horizon?  

I certainly do! For most of my adult life, I’ve collected and saved over 550 small business cards that people have given me – from professional conferences to doctors’ appointments, from film festivals to hardware stores, from art galleries to human rights centers.  In these places, I’ve met and engaged with hundreds of people over a period of four decades, and now I’m thinking about how these people’s lives might have affected mine or, in turn, how I might have touched the trajectory of their own journey. 

Rifling through the cards, I wonder about each person who offered me this small paper object as a reminder of our encounter. Some meetings were profound, others brief and superficial.  And yet, almost every card actually accomplished the mnemonic purpose for which it was created. Holding a card now, a trickle or a flood of memories lands inside my internal vault, and that person’s existence is reinstated in mine.  Beginning in 2021, I threw myself into the process of investigating how the component parts of these cards could hold a clue to my understanding of what they are. The concept of making distillations has been at the foundation of my work for a very long time.  

As an experimental filmmaker and poet, I am more interested in the associative relationship between two things, two shots, and two words than I am in their cause and effect, or their narrative symbiosis.  For me, a distillation like one of these cards is a container for ideas and energy, a concise manifestation of a multi-valent presence that does not depend on exposition. Distillation is not a metaphor; it’s more like metonymy and synecdoche, where a part stands in for a whole, where less might be more.

The Lynne Sachs Collection is now showing on Fandor, our independent film streaming service. Click here to watch the works of Lynne Sachs.

AEMI Presents- Day Residue: A Film-Making Workshop on the Every Day, in-person workshop in Cork (NOVEMBER 9)

aemi @ CIFF: Workshop with Lynne Sachs
9 November 2021 / 11am – 4pm / Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork
https://aemi.ie/event/workshop-with-lynne-sachs/

We are really excited to work with aemi’s Artist in Focus Lynne Sachs to deliver a workshop as part of CIFF 2021. This in-person workshop in Cork will focus on the interplay between poetry and cinema. Based in New York, Lynne Sachs is an award winning filmmaker whose work bridges personal experience and political concerns through her singular approach to filmmaking. Lynne uses both analogue and digital mediums, weaving together text, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design.

‘Day Residue: A Film-Making Workshop on the Every Day’ is open to both emerging and established artists interested in film and writing. The workshop is an excellent opportunity for film artists to deeply consider creative approaches to writing and film, both in relation to their own practices and within wider contexts.

Day Residue: A Film-Making Workshop on the Every Day
Lynne Sachs: According to Sigmund Freud’s theory of dreams, our day residue is composed of the memory traces left by the events of our waking state.  In this workshop, we explore the ways in which fragments of our daily lives can become material in writing for a personal film. While many people in the film industry rely upon a chronological process that begins with the development phase and ends with post-production, our Day Residue workshop will build on an entirely different creative paradigm that encourages artists to embraces the nuances, surprises and challenges of their daily lives as a foundation for a diaristic practice.

The day will be structured by two sessions: in addition to introducing her practice and collectively watching Lynne’s programme of short films curated by aemi for CIFF (see film info below), Lynne will also lead a session on writing and film / writing for film, and the possible interplays between the two – extending to the role of poetry.


In-person screening programme within the workshop:

Lynne Sachs, Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor, 2018, USA, 8 min
From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three artists who embraced the moving image throughout their lives.

Lynne Sachs, Still Life With Women And Four Objects, 1986, USA, 4 minA portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a ‘character’.

Lynne Sachs, Drawn and Quartered, 1986, USA, 4 minOptically printed images of a man and a woman fragmented by a film frame that is divided into four distinct sections.

Lynne Sachs, The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts, 1991, USA, 29 min
A girl’s difficult coming-of-age rituals are recast into a potent web for affirmation and growth.

Lynne Sachs and Anne Lesley Selcer, Girl is Presence, 2020, USA, 5 min
Against the uncertain and anxious pandemic atmosphere, inside domestic space, a ‘girl’ arranges and rearranges a collection of small and mysterious things.

Lynne Sachs and Moira Sweeney, Longings, 2021, USA/ Ireland, 90 seconds
A collaboration exploring the resonances and ruptures between image and language.

Lynne Sachs, Drift and Bough, 2014, USA, 6 minLynne Sachs spends a winter morning in Central Park shooting film in the snow. Holding her Super 8mm camera, she takes note of graphic explosions of dark and light and an occasional skyscraper.

Lynne Sachs, Starfish Aorta Colossus, 2014, USA, 4 min
Poetry watches film. Film reads poetry. Paolo Javier’s text is a catalyst for digital sculpting of an 8mm Kodachrome canvas.

Lynne Sachs, Maya at 24, 2021, USA, 4 minLynne Sachs films her daughter Maya at 6, 16 and 24.

Lynne Sachs with and for Barbara Hammer, A Month of Single Frames, 2019, USA, 14 min
In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had an artist residency in a shack without running water or electricity. She shot film and kept a journal. In 2018 Hammer, facing her own imminent death, gave her material to Lynne and invited her to make a film.


This is a free workshop, however as numbers are limited, prior booking is essential.

Please email Emer at info@aemi.ie in advance to secure a place.


Biography 
Lynne Sachs (Memphis, Tennessee, 1961) is a filmmaker and poet living in Brooklyn, New York. Her work explores the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together text, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. Strongly committed to a feminist dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with every new project. Her moving image work ranges from short experimental films, to essay films to hybrid live performances. Lynne has made 37 films, including features and shorts, which have screened, won awards or been included in retrospectives at New York Film Festival, Museum of Modern Art, Sundance, Oberhausen, Viennale, Sheffield Doc/Fest, BAFICI, RIDM Montréal, Vancouver Film Festival, Doclisboa, Havana IFF, and China Women’s Film Festival. In 2014, she received the Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts.

aemi: Artist in Focus: Lynne Sachs (at the 66th Cork Film Festival)

66th Cork Film Festival
November 16-18, 2021
https://2021.corkfilmfest.org/films/aemi-artist-in-focus-lynne-sachs-615afd65aae68d005a5685ed

I will be heading to Cork International Film Festival in Ireland to present “Film About a Father Who” with 10 short films as part of their AEMI artist focus on my work. Honored to share four collaborative film poems: “Longings” made with filmmaker Moira Sweeney (who will be there with us!); “A Month of Single Frames” made with Barbara Hammer; “Girl is Presence” made with Anne Lesley Selcer; and, “Starfish Aorta Colossus” made with Paolo Javier.


Making work since the 1980s Lynne Sachs’ films have incorporated a cross-pollination of forms that extend to the essay film, documentary, collage, performance, and poetry. Deeply reflexive, Sachs’ films to date have outlined a rich interplay between the personal and the socio-political. aemi is delighted to present this overview of selected short works by Lynne Sachs at Cork International Film Festival, many of which are screening in Ireland for the first time. 

In addition to this shorts programme Lynne will also be in attendance at the festival for the Irish premiere of her celebrated feature Film About a Father Who.

CAROLEE, BARBARA & GUNVOR Lynne Sachs
From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three artists who embraced the moving image throughout their lives.

STILL LIFE WITH WOMEN AND FOUR OBJECTS Lynne Sachs
A portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a ‘character’.

DRAWN AND QUARTERED Lynne Sachs
Optically printed images of a man and a woman fragmented by a film frame that is divided into four distinct sections.

THE HOUSE OF SCIENCE: A MUSEUM OF FALSE FACTS Lynne Sachs
A girl’s difficult coming-of-age rituals are recast into a potent web for affirmation and growth.

GIRL IS PRESENCE Lynne Sachs and Anne Lesley Selcer
Against the uncertain and anxious pandemic atmosphere, inside domestic space, a ‘girl’ arranges and rearranges a collection of small and mysterious things.

LONGINGS Lynne Sachs and Moira Sweeney
A collaboration exploring the resonances and ruptures between image and language.

DRIFT AND BOUGH Lynne Sachs
Lynne Sachs spends a winter morning in Central Park shooting film in the snow. Holding her Super 8mm camera, she takes note of graphic explosions of dark and light and an occasional skyscraper.

STARFISH AORTA COLOSSUS Lynne Sachs
Poetry watches film. Film reads poetry. Paolo Javier’s text is a catalyst for digital sculpting of an 8mm Kodachrome canvas.

MAYA AT 24 Lynne Sachs
Lynne Sachs films her daughter Maya at 6, 16 and 24.

A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES Lynne Sachs with and for Barbara Hammer
In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had an artist residency in a shack without running water or electricity. She shot film and kept a journal. In 2018 Hammer, facing her own imminent death, gave her material to Lynne and invited her to make a film.


aemi @ CIFF: Contested Legacies – Lynne Sachs and Myrid Carten

10 November 2021 / 8pm / Triskel Arts Centre Cinema
8pm Cinema screening and Q&A
https://aemi.ie/event/aemi-ciff-contested-legacies-lynne-sachs-and-myrid-carten/

The Irish premiere of Lynne Sachs’ celebrated feature Film About a Father Who screens here alongside the world premiere of Myrid Carten’s short film Sorrow had a baby. Both artists will be in attendance for a discussion of their work following the screening.

Both Film About a Father Who and Sorrow had a baby deal, in very different ways, with familial legacy incorporating personal archives and pushing against the traditional boundaries of documentary practice. Myrid Carten’s film Sorrow had a baby is also the first film produced through aemi’s annual film commissioning programme, supported by Arts Council of Ireland.


Myrid Carten, Sorrow had a baby,
 2021, Ireland, 16 minutesaemi Film Commission 2021
‘I absorbed the women in my life as I would chloroform on a cloth laid against my face.’ – Vivan Gornick

Sorrow had a baby explores the mother-daughter relationship through multiple lenses: memory, beauty, inheritance. Who writes the stories in a family? Who can change them?

Lynne Sachs, Film About a Father Who, 2020, USA, 74 minutesOver a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. Film About a Father Who is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, Sachs’ cinematic exploration of her father offers simultaneous, sometimes contradictory, views of one seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame yet privately ensconced in secrets. In the process, Sachs allows herself and her audience inside to see beyond the surface of the skin, the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, Sachs as a daughter discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.

Mubi Notebook: Experimenting and Expanding at Prismatic Ground

Experimenting and Expanding at Prismatic Ground
MUBI Notebook
By Caroline Golum
May 31, 2021

https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/experimenting-and-expanding-at-prismatic-ground

An exhibiting filmmaker’s thoughts on the recent online festival, Prismatic Ground.

It began, as so many things do these days, with a tweet: in October 2020, Inney Prakash, programmer of the Maysles Cinema’s “After Civilization” series, put out a call for experimental documentary films. The resulting festival, Prismatic Ground, debuted in early April with a diverse line-up of new and repertory non-fiction films that ran the gamut of genres, styles, and techniques. Imagine: a programmer directly engaging with his community of filmmakers with an open-hearted all-points-bulletin was the antithesis of conventional festival gatekeeping. The refreshing prospect was a beacon to filmmakers struggling to create and exhibit work during a traumatic and hostile time. 

Prakash’s call for submissions caught my attention on that fateful October night: for once, my endless Twitter scrolling put me in the right place at the right time. For the last four years, I’d been dutifully at work on a narrative feature concerning Julian of Norwich, an obscure 14th-century woman mystic. With development and production on indefinite hold, I resolved to keep in “fighting shape” by making whatever I could—however I could—about Julian’s ecstatic religious experience. I had originally set out to make a companion piece, a sort of altar to this long-overlooked religious icon. What began as a few standalone tableaux eventually turned into The Sixteen Showings of Julian of Norwich, a bricolage of stop-motion animation, back-projection, and collage. 

I was very fortunate to have a job for most of last year, but working well beyond the customary 40 hours a week in these new circumstances was disastrous for my mental health and creative practice. For the first few months of this solitary arrangement, I was lucky if I ended each day with just enough energy to bathe and feed myself. Readers, no doubt, will recognize this feeling immediately—a pervasive fogginess, a dearth of initiative, contained on all sides by fear, dread, and exhaustion. The immediate reaction for many of us possessing an artistic temperament is to heal through the work, to create from a place of self-preservation as a therapeutic exercise (because, to be perfectly honest, very few working artists can afford traditional talk therapy).

After a nights-and-weekends work schedule, I finished a short film in my little office consisting of whatever I had on hand. It’s a wild departure from my usual narrative practice of snappy dialogue and meticulously-designed sets, edging my practice into a heretofore unexplored aesthetic and style. 

Sixteen Showings was my first attempt to make a film without in-person collaborations: Tessa Strain’s narration, Matt Macfarlane’s original score, and Eliana Zebrow’s rich sound mix were directed entirely over email. The film was tangential to my would-be narrative feature, but very much apiece with my overarching vision. Finishing this solo effort was a balm—somehow I had made something new despite… well, you know, everything. But what now? Surveying the fruits of this months-long process, I struggled to conceive of a suitable afterlife beyond the customary Vimeo upload. Where could I screen this? What context could there possibly be for a theological exploration of isolation, plague, and revolt? Calling it a “shut-in watercolor movie,” or “moving altar,” while elegiac, didn’t quite fit the bill. 

Enter Inney Prakash’s well-timed tweet and timely festival. Emboldened by his transparency and programmatic voice, I steeled myself for yet another humbly-toned inquiry. When Sixteen Showings was selected, I was shocked, ecstatic and, in a way, relieved: if there was an audience for this film, surely I would find it at Prismatic Ground. Having never enjoyed a virtual premiere, I went into the experience as a total neophyte. But for every gripe there was praise in equal measure: the pleasure of connecting with an otherwise distant viewership, public recognition for work made under great duress. Prismatic Ground helped me recontextualize what felt like a moving target. More than a descriptor or genre, “experimental documentary” affords artists a wide berth to do just that: experiment with cinematic and journalistic techniques within a nonfiction framework. To that end, I began to understand the dual significance of Sixteen Showings as a documentary about Julian of Norwich’s life and, by extension, my own. 

In a festival space laid low by last year’s pandemic, Prakash saw an opportunity to challenge “the toxic or tedious norms governing festival culture, and to emphasize inclusivity and access.” Where the year’s higher-profile festivals sought to replicate the exclusivity of their in-person events with geo-blocked premiers and Zoom happy hours, Prismatic Ground promised viewers a deliberate antithesis. Its programming, ethos, and even web presence were tailor-made for the online space, prioritizing widespread access and a filmmaker-centered focus on screenings and Q&As. Prakash’s curation was mission-driven: “It was important to me to strike a balance,” he said, “between early career and established filmmakers, palatable and challenging work, passion and polish.” The line-up generously gave equal weight to artists at every stage of their process. Instead of single-film, time-sensitive screenings, audiences enjoyed free reign to explore and engage of their own accord, a heretofore unheard of format—online and off.

Organized in a series of “waves,” Prismatic Ground was structured around four separate collections touching on simultaneously personal and societal themes. It was reassuring to screen Sixteen Showings alongside equally intimate works, each with a different visual and philosophical approach. I was, and still am, grateful to Prakash for including my film. Despite being a newcomer to experimental filmmaking and documentary, I never once felt like an impostor. That feeling carried over to my experience as a viewer as well: these were films unlike any I’d seen, whether due to their newness or, in the case of repertory titles, my own lack of access. I am grateful to the festival for offering an avenue through which to engage with the work of other like-minded artists. 

I was eager to hear from my fellow filmmakers about their road to the festival and experience as participants in this bold experiment in public exhibition. While we all arrived through different avenues, I immediately noticed a shared resonance. A wide net-approach to programming naturally attracted filmmakers reeling from the exclusionary nature of the mainstream festival circuit. Filmmaker Angelo Madsen Max (Two Sons and a River of Blood, 2021) was quick to note how “Inney was able to really access all of the different layers of what the piece was doing.” For director Sarah Friedland (Drills, 2020) it was the fervor of how Prakash had “created the festival he wanted to exist, instead of trying to reform an established festival” that drew her to the event.

For filmmakers navigating constraints brought on by the pandemic, and its ongoing economic aftermath, social media provided the sense of community missing from in-person festivals. Elias ZX (You Deserve The Best, 2018) was already familiar with Prakash’s programming work on “After Civilization” when they submitted their film. “We became friends through Twitter, [and] he told me about his plan to make an experimental documentary festival.” Screening online “gave my film space to breathe in a way that is really uncommon for festivals. Every viewer was allowed to have a completely unique experience with the film.” Virginia-based filmmaker Lydia Moyer (The Well-Prepared Citizen’s Solution, 2020) saw the festival as a chance to broaden and strengthen these seemingly disparate filmmaking communities. “As a person who lives in a rural place, it’s great that so much interesting work has been available this year to anyone who’s got enough bandwidth (literally and figuratively).” Moyer said. “The way this is set up is for online viewing, not just trying to transfer an in-person experience online.” 

Programming the work of early career filmmakers alongside more established artists was more than a canny curatorial choice. The variety presented across these four waves expanded the audience’s access to repertory titles, while simultaneously reiterating the connection between both older and more recent offerings. Prismatic Ground’s streaming platform and presentation stood out for director Chris Harris (Reckless Eyeballing, 2004), who “had some streaming experiences that weren’t so happy in terms of the technical aspects.” The festival’s creative exhibition format was especially taken by “the mix of programming, special live events, and the flexibility of accommodating filmmakers with the option of live and recorded Q&As.” For prolific filmmaker Lynne Sachs, Prismatic Ground represented “an entirely new, unbelievably adventurous, compassionate approach to the viewing of experimentally driven cinema,” emphasizing that the festival itself was “beyond anything I have ever seen in my life.”  

Among the filmmakers I spoke with, Prismatic Ground’s liberal approach to exhibition belied a tremendous sense of potential for artists navigating a post-COVID festival ecosystem. Harris noticed an “[increasing] festival bandwidth for underseen/emerging Black experimental filmmakers,” a tendency that he “[hopes] to see continue after COVID.” In lieu of a return to in-person only screenings, the general consensus saw streaming as a fixture in future festivals. “I don’t think it is going to be possible to put the toothpaste back in the tube here,” noted Zx, emphasizing that “more access will be good for filmmakers… and will challenge programmers to be more competitive, to release more obscure films that are harder to find.” 

Prakash’s groundbreaking work has already heeded the call, citing critic Abby Sun’s Berlin Critics’ Week essay “On Criticism” as a guiding principle. “Festivals aren’t merely reacting to social conditions,” Sun writes. “They are often the primary creators of them.” Prismatic Ground’s focus on diverse curation and access reaches well beyond the artistic ramifications. Prakash’s end goal is emboldening, a manifesto of sorts: “Enough of premiere politics, prohibitive pricing, playing only the same handful of films at every festival. Let’s create better conditions. There is a moral imperative to keep doing virtual screenings now that we know we can and how.” 

Prismatic Ground Hosts Two Programs of Films by Lynne Sachs


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


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

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


MUBI and Prismatic Ground Film Festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lynne Sachs

Lynne Sachs Awarded “Ground Glass Award” at Prismatic Ground

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

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

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

Logo: Kelsey Kaptur


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Kino Rebelde to Represent Lynne Sachs’ Catalogue Internationally

http://www.kinorebelde.com/lynne-sachs-complete-filmography/

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

vera@kinorebelde.com


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.