Tag Archives: Still Life with Woman & Four Objects

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 
MARCH 24, 2022

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

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.

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

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.

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

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’.

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

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.

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.

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

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


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

Transcription of Conversation with Brett Kashmere:

Inney Prakash: Welcome, everyone. Just going to give it a few seconds for people to trickle in here.

Hello, my name is Inney Prakash, and I am the founder and director of Prismatic Ground, which in case you haven’t heard, is a new film festival centered around experimental documentary, hosted virtually for the first year, in partnership with Maysles Documentary Center and Screen Slate. We’re here today for a reason that is very special to me, which is to honor Lynne Sachs with the festival’s inaugural Ground Glass Award, which recognizes outstanding contribution to the field of experimental media.

I wanted to include this as part of the festival, because paying homage to people who have sort of led the way is important to me. I think there’s a lot to be learned from those who have done exemplary work, and have a body of work to show for it. Lynn’s body of work is extraordinary. What I really love about it is the way it’s simultaneously very personal and also outward looking, interested in the world.

I think of her Vietnam film and the way it’s both a travelog that is examining a country in the world that’s foreign to her, but also a portrait, a self-portrait of family, and the way in which that’s so extraordinary. You can follow this through line throughout her work to her most recent film as well, Film About a Father Who, which she’s been shooting for a long time, in which in the way it examines, again, it’s a portrait of family, but it’s also a portrait of the effect that her father has had on other people’s lives.

She’s still interested in looking outward while reflecting, and I think that’s really cool. I am really excited to introduce her today. Unfortunately, because this is such a scruffy fest, Lynne, I owe you a physical award. I will eventually come up with that. That will happen. In the meantime, I just want you to know how much your work means to me, and how much it means to me that you’re such a champion for the experimental community, and the importance you place in community, and your willingness to engage with others, to collaborate, to recognize the work of others, to uplift others.

It means a lot to me personally, and I know it means a lot to others as well, so thank you. We also have here, Brett Kashmere, who’s the Executive Director of Canyon Cinema. He’s done a lot of extraordinary things. You can look up his website, one of which he’s working on an epic tome about Craig Baldwin that he’s been editing for some say up to 10 years. He and Lynne are going to talk, and I think they’re going to focus on Lynne’s early years in San Francisco, which, again, there’s another extraordinary example of a way a community came together to build what, in my eyes, is something like a movement dedicated to formally daring work.

With that, I want to step aside and give it away to them, but thank you so much, Lynne. Yeah, that’s it. Nothing but gratitude.

Lynne Sachs: Well, I’ll just say that it’s such a exciting moment for me to be here, and Prismatic Ground represents and celebrates exactly the kind of work that sparked me to want to be a filmmaker. I feel like it kind of comes full circle that you all are, that Inney and the community that you have created is giving me this recognition.

It really does go back to San Francisco, and that was Brett’s idea for us to talk about why that city, that community, has left such an imprint on so many of us. Even if you haven’t ever lived there, you’re feeling it. We can kind of articulate why that is over this conversation.

Brett Kashmere: Okay. I guess maybe I’ll take it from here. First off, it hasn’t been 10 years that I’ve been working on the Craig Baldwin book with Steve Polta. It’s been maybe three years at the most. It only sometimes feels like it’s been 10 years. Second of all, kudos to Inney for the incredible accomplishment that is Prismatic Ground, which is truly astonishing, and inspiring, and so beautifully curated, and expertly organized. I think it’s an ideal in many ways of what’s possible in the digital space.

Then, of course, congrats to Lynne for this very well-deserved honor in recognition of your 35 year contribution to the fields of experimental media and documentary art, and vitally to their cross-pollination and contamination. I mean that in the best possible way. To provide a little bit of background, I’ve known Lynne for about 15 years, I believe, and I’ve always associated you, Lynne, with New York. I’ve always thought of you as a New York filmmaker, kind of quintessentially New York.

Since moving to the Bay Area five years ago, and particularly since joining Canyon Cinema last June, I’ve come to understand that your roots as a filmmaker and your sensibility, your repertoire, are really formed in and by San Francisco. I don’t know, maybe you don’t agree with that assessment. We can get into it, but it’s something that I’ve really sort of picked up on in looking at your films, re-watching them over the past few days and over the past year.

In full disclosure, Lynne is currently a member of Canyon’s Board of Directors, to our great benefit. I thought it would be fun to use this opportunity, perhaps selfishly, to learn more about your relationship with San Francisco, and your time in the Bay Area, the various influences and key figures from that period spanning the mid-eighties to the mid-1990s.

I thought we could start there, or here, depending on where you are, and then eventually move into talking about some of your films, nine of which are currently streaming on the Prismatic Ground site, eight of which are split across two programs curated by San Francisco’s own Craig Baldwin, and then an additional early film, Drawn and Quartered, which is part of the lovely Wave Four program. Lynne, can you explain what drew you to San Francisco initially, and then what kept you planted here for more than a decade?

Lynne Sachs: Actually, I never made a film in college, but I moved to New York in 1983, and I thought, oh, I’ll move. I’m excited about filmmaking. I had just recently discovered Chantal Akerman’s films and Marguerite Duras. I had gone to school in Paris for a year, my junior year. It was there that I began to understand, oh, you could love poetry, you could love image making, and they could come together in this vessel called a film.

When I got to New York, I thought, I’ll just work on other people’s films and I’ll learn how to make movies. It didn’t work that way. That was a way to get into the industry and build skills, but it wasn’t a way necessarily to learn to make your own films. I took a few classes, and they didn’t at first go that well. I took a class at the School of Visual Arts, and I wrote, I made this film called The Tarot that the teacher there said, “You need a punch line at the end.” I didn’t want to make that kind of movie.

Then I started to hang out at Downtown Community Television, and it was there that I started to understand this what we would now call hybrid work. I was doing dance performances with friends, and then shooting documentary footage, and it was all kind of mixing up. Then I thought, well, maybe I’ll go to school. I need to learn how to make movies or film. I always said that when you’re working on them, they’re films, and then when you finish them, you’ve got to say movie.

I moved to San Francisco, and I ended up going to San Francisco State and the San Francisco Art Institute because I didn’t get into the San Francisco Art Institute right off. Both of those sensibilities really left a big imprint on me, San Francisco State mostly for kind of the intellectual rigor there. I was learning film theory, and working with people who were really bringing a conceptual rigor to filmmaking, and then the Art Institute to begin to understand what it meant to be a film artist.

One of the connections to Prismatic Ground that was so much in the air in San Francisco in the eighties, and into the nineties, and to the present, is this idea that experimental and documentary weren’t completely discrete ways of working, because everywhere else, it seemed to me in the country, and particularly in New York, you had to decide, “I’m going to make reality-based work, or I’m going to play with form.”

In San Francisco, the expectation was that you could do both, and that you could make work that asks questions about society, and about politics, and culture, but also in the process, ripped up all the templates that came with that analysis.

Brett Kashmere: You started your MFA at SF State, and then you transferred to SFAI? How did that work?

Lynne Sachs: I actually finished at both, because I started at San Francisco State, and so I got to take film history classes. I had never seen Citizen Kane before I started there, and luckily in that program, they really supported people who were intellectually curious, but didn’t even come with any of the tools, or the baggage, or the knowledge of the practice, but wanted to bring everything. I had been working in art, but I had a degree in European history, and so there was an encouragement for just having that foundation.

Then I applied to the Art Institute, and part of it was that San Francisco State had a MA degree, and San Francisco, at that point, San Francisco Art Institute had an MFA, but there were artists at both schools who were so profoundly influential to me and became dear friends with whom I still share a bond.

Brett Kashmere: Do you have any distinct memories of what the film scene in San Francisco was like during that era? Also, curious about the things that you were reading and responding to, and the films that you were looking at during that period?

Lynne Sachs: Well, I took a semiotics class at San Francisco State, and just the word was so enticing to me. It was the word of the day in the eighties, this notion of studying the signs, and symbols, and what the meanings were of images that were both connotative and denotative, and how that all had sort of started in a dialogue in Europe. I was perhaps more moved by cultural theory, so Roland Barthes in particular, not necessarily Christian Met, not necessarily the film theory, but all of it was new to me.

I knew that I was taking those classes because I would feed into my work. I actually think that the film in the Prismatic Ground, Still Life with Women and Four Objects, really reflects all of those influences, from discovering Jean-Luc Godard, but also thinking he had no sympathy or understanding whatsoever of what women’s lives were like. I actually felt he exploited women in his films, but I still loved his films. There were all these contradictions, and Yvonne Rainer’s films, all of it was just coming into my consciousness.

Also, to be in San Francisco at that time, and to be making your own films was to be circulating and visiting the Film Arts Foundation. Everything that you did was in relationship to that building on Ninth Street. You would go there to edit, you would go there to watch movies, you would go there to hang out. We lived in such a different place now. Our homes are places to make films, but at that time, you had to go out in the world to shoot and to edit.

Brett Kashmere: Do you recall what kind of impact that feminist theory and feminist art making had on the culture and the curriculum of SFAI at that time? The film department specifically, because as I understand it, I think film was a separate department from video and performance.

Lynne Sachs: When I tell you the people who came through for, they always had a visiting artist for the graduate program who would teach classes, the evening class, and I think it was always on Monday night. For example, I met Peggy Ahwesh then, I saw her work. I loved how informal it was, but I also loved how assertive it was about issues related to women and in our culture. That thin line between play and polemic was exciting to me, and not exactly when I was in school there, but later, Carolee Schneemann came, and so I would visit her class.

I actually showed the film that’s in the program, the House of Science, A Museum of False Facts, I was invited to screen by Carolee in her class and we just sat there for hours, talking about it. That was such a gift to me, to be able to talk to someone who’d had such a adventurous and thoughtful impact on women and art, and I mean art in general, but what it was to embrace the body. I had made this film where my body was involved, and I was writing about the body, and she was engaged with that.

Also, I worked really closely with Gunvor Nelson, and that sort of was another side. She’d made a film called Schmeerguntz, which I just loved, because I loved how much it celebrated the sort of dirtiness of the body. I hadn’t had children yet at that point, but it was all about motherhood, and it was raw. She’d also made My Name is Oona, and that film had an impact on me in that it was a celebration of the connection between the person behind the camera who could be a mother, but might not be, and the person in front of the camera who was her child. There’s this intimacy that comes through the arteries of the camera out to the child.

Brett Kashmere: It’s interesting that you mentioned Carolee, because as I was watching Drawn and Quartered the other day, her films really kind of came to mind, especially Plumb Line and Kitch’s Last Meal. Just in terms of the look and feel, and I know that Drawn and Quartered, or I believe Drawn and Quartered is one of your earliest films that was shot on the rooftop of SFAI? I’m curious if that film sort of led you someplace, in terms of thinking about relationship of form, and content, and visual strategy.

Lynne Sachs: You asked me about feminist theory, and I think that Laura Mulvey’s essay on the female gaze, or trying to address and challenge the male gaze, was probably about 10 years old by the time I read it, but it already was, I’m not going to say seminal, but it was already such an important article. When I read that article on Visual Pleasure, I connected to it immediately.

For example, when I was in school, there was a woman who asked me to shoot her film for her, which people do sometimes, they crew for other people. She wanted me to shoot it in a way that I felt was replicating a male gaze. I was in the middle of working for her and I said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I had probably assumed I’m shooting this film for a woman, and we’re going to challenge the ethos of Hollywood or of a conventional formation of the female body.

We weren’t. We were actually trying to just erase her place as a woman. It was horrifying to me. Then when I shot Drawn and Quartered, I believe, I’m trying to remember, but I believe that I had read Laura Mulvey’s article. I had the camera, we never looked through the camera, we would just sort of shoot it in the… I was shooting with my then boyfriend, John Baker, and I would have him shoot my body, and I would shoot his, but it had to be an extension.

There was a man who worked in the cage, the equipment room at San Francisco State, and he always said, “Shoot from the hip.” I liked that. It’s an expression, but I always tried to do it. I want to say something, that Nina Fonaroff just wrote a little note, and I adore her films. We were in graduate school together. I saw that she wrote something in the chat, so I have to respond to that.

She was the most, I got to say it, sophisticated person I had ever met in the realm of theory and practice. She was in school. I remember, this was probably 1987, and she did a presentation in this graduate seminar, and it was like a watershed for me. It was a way of looking at experimental film, because so often in film studies classes, you’re looking at Hollywood films, and you’re breaking them down and analyzing. She was sort of guiding, I won’t say teaching, but guiding the rest of us to understanding experimental film for all its possibility.

It was such a gift to see her work, like Accursed Mazurka, and other films at that point, and to also feel like she was a comrade.

Brett Kashmere: Yeah, besides Nina, are there other classmates or teachers who stand out as important kind of influences or interlocutors for you in the development of your work during that time?

Lynne Sachs: Well…

Brett Kashmere: I can just sort of just say that as I was rewatching your films, I was kind of noticing traces of Trinh Minh-ha’s work in terms of its self-reflexivity, and the poetic narration, and the visual lyricism, and traces of Marlon Riggs, and Lynne Hirschman in terms of their personal introspection, and the collage essay techniques, obviously, of Craig Baldwin in the use of the archive, Barbara Hammer and the focus on the body.

Lynne Sachs: Clearly, I was a sponge, but I will say that Trinh Minh-ha was a teacher of mine in a couple of classes at San Francisco State, and then she asked me to be her assistant. First of all, it was to pick up her mail when she was on sabbatical, and then I became a sound recordist and an assistant on some editing of some of her films. She was also very important to, for example, to the making of Sermons and Sacred Pictures, which is in this program.

That was my graduate thesis at San Francisco State. This is the eighties when identity politics were really so, so vital, and the way that they’ve kind of come back in an extremely important and empowering way. We were thinking, and she had made Reassemblage, and she, as a Vietnamese American woman, had made this film in West Africa, and was aware of her outsider place. I was making a film about a black filmmaker and minister in Memphis, Tennessee, which was a return to my own home.

My home in that city was also very different from his home and his Memphis. She was really so helpful in pushing me to think about being open enough about your own place, but not flaunting it. For example, when I made Sermons and Sacred Pictures, there were some people who thought I needed to show my face. Then there are other people who said, “No, your imprint is in the shaping, and in being on the other side of the camera, and in listening.”

I’ve always wondered about that around documentary, how you learned… I think you learn in that film about Reverend Taylor’s world, because you’re seeing his world through his eyes, but you didn’t need to see me seeing his world. That was a really kind of complicated issue to investigate. She helped me with that step-by-step, because she was actually my advisor.

Brett Kashmere: It reminds me a little bit of her ethic of speaking nearby, rather than speaking about or speaking for.

Lynne Sachs: Yeah, I’ve been kind of, let’s say, preoccupied with prepositions like that ever since. You say the word about, and I Film About a Father Who, like that word about comes up so often not in experimental filmmaking, but in documentary filmmaking. It always has to have a subject. People rarely ask, “What’s the subject of an experimental film?” In documentary, there’s sort of an assumption that it will lead us to an about, and that therefore, we will have a more developed knowledge, and we will leave better, empowered, better.

I think what Minh-ha was saying, you’ll leave in parallel, or you’ll leave with an ability to ask more questions, rather than to confirm a complete kind of knowledge, that you have a fragmented knowledge.

Brett Kashmere: I know that you also worked intensively with Bruce Conner for a year while you were in San Francisco, talking about the other poll from Minha.

Lynne Sachs: Yeah.

Brett Kashmere: Could you say more about your experience working with Bruce? Are there any short stories that you want to share about that?

Lynne Sachs: Yeah. You definitely could say you have the found footage, assemblage approach to commenting on culture, and then you have this other approach, which is more reflective and verbal in Minh-ha’s work, that the notion that you are recounting your position in a more explicit way, and maybe self-conscious way. Both of those things left in imprint, and in certain times, I felt I got lost in that.

Now, I accept that lostness and I’ve felt tension. Am I an experimental filmmaker, or am I a documentary filmmaker? Jonas Mekas hated the word experimental, and lots of people hate the word documentary, and you could say it’s just a creative way of working with reality. Actually, both of those are, in that case. I met Bruce Conner because I had a friend who had done some shooting with him on his film that never got finished, but is now going to get finished, about The Soul Stirrers.

Also, I had gone to the Flaherty in 1984, believe it or not, as a kind of intern fellow. That year, the focus was on Bruce Conner’s work and Maya Deren’s work, none of which, I’d never even heard of either one of them. There I am, at the Flaherty, helping them to give out programs, and doing some things that interns do. Then at the end of the day or throughout the day, I’m seeing work by Maya Deren and work by Conner. They’re completely different. One is looking inward in this very sort of dream-like, and intensely personal way, and the other has a detachment, but an intense engagement with culture.

That started at the Flaherty Film Seminar, and then I ended up moving to San Francisco. I had these little teeny contacts with Bruce Conner, and then he asked me if I wanted to work with him putting together his film negative, I say negative, because that’s how important the work was, for the Museum of Modern Art. They were acquiring all of his work, and they needed the negatives to be organized. I had essentially never spliced a 16 millimeter film in my life. There I would be, every once a week, I would go for the entire day with him, and he would watch me work, and be so frustrated by my inability to do it.

He did all the work. I just sat there, listening to him tell stories. Then we would take a break, and we would have lunch. Then he would take a nap because he was always a little bit compromised physically, or he said he was. Then in the afternoon, we would kind of run errands for him in his, I remember it as a convertible, and one of the funniest, it wasn’t funny at the time, but when I look back, one of the craziest things we did was we would go shopping for Geiger counters, because he was sure there was a lot of radio activity under his house.

We did all these just kooky things. Actually, I’m going to show you this book, which came, this is, have you heard of this book?

Brett Kashmere: Yeah.

Lynne Sachs: Yeah. Bruce, as his health declined, set up brass handles all over his whole house, these brass handles, probably 50 or 60 of them. This is a book of his brass handles, and his house was in Bernal Heights. It had a lot of levels, and he would need to grab things. Anyway, Bruce has been a big part of my life. He gave ink drawings to my daughters when they were born, and he just was super supportive. It actually comes full circle to Sermons and Sacred Pictures.

He always loved that I was making this film about a black minister and filmmaker, and he was curious about it. He would ask me about how it was going, and then he came to the premiere, which was on a church on Fillmore Street, and it was just so scary. It was filled with members of the congregation of that church, the premiere in San Francisco, and then Bruce was there. I was nervous about both.

That’s kind of like the nature of my work, because it was all about that. It wasn’t about the San Francisco black church community, but they were interested. Then it was about playing with form with Bruce.

Brett Kashmere: Another point of connection between you and Bruce is Craig Baldwin, who we’d be remiss not to talk about at some point.

Lynne Sachs: Definitely.

Brett Kashmere: Craig was a student of Bruce’s at SF State in the eighties, early eighties, I think. I know that you and Craig have a very close relationship. I’ve read many of his letters to you, actually, which you provided us for the book that we’re working on. How did you and Craig meet, and what has he meant to you and to your work on video?

Lynne Sachs: Craig is a brother and one of the dearest people in the world to me. I just adore him. I will say that in my file cabinets downstairs, I have two big file cabinets, but about half of one of the whole drawers is filled with things related to Craig, from all of his calendars for other cinema, to letters that we’ve written, to film materials he sent me. Then I’ll go backwards, but lately, he’s been sending me a film either by or about a woman, women’s lives, almost every week since the pandemic started. He somehow thinks that I am going to create a feminist archive.

I kind of am now, because I have so many films and I’ve looked them all up, and found them, and actually know where they were made. If there was a director, I know about it, and I’ve labeled them, so I guess I’m doing my job. Craig and I met around in 1987 when Other Cinema was still around, but it wasn’t at 992 Valencia Street. The first place I went to his series was there. When I saw his film, Rocket Kit Congo Kit at San Francisco State, which was his thesis film there, I was just awed.

It was kind of life transforming. It was life tran… This way of working with images to tell us about ourselves. I never looked back. I would say half the movies I’ve ever made have some piece of film that came from Craig’s basement. I would say that the House of Science, which is in the program at Prismatic Ground, really couldn’t have happened without some of the material that I found in his archive, or that he found and shared with me, or he’d kind of like a frisbee, throw me a reel of film, “You’re going to find something here.”

He knew I was looking for women in science. Then I would just go for it. Lots of my film have material from Craig, so much. He’s just been so supportive. The first one woman show I had, he called The Complete Lynne Sachs, and that was in the late eighties. Luckily, that wasn’t the complete, that was the word he used. I don’t know if my pronunciation is right, but we just believe in each other as makers and people.

Brett Kashmere: By the way, when did you become a member of Canyon Cinema? Do you have any memories or stories about Canyon from that time? Did you ever go to membership meetings?

Lynne Sachs: I felt like I was such an active member of Canyon Cinema. I don’t remember meetings. I actually remember being in the Canyon vibe more from a place called the Know-Nothing Cinema, where lots of Canyon kinds of shows would happen, and I would go there. I was such a part of the years in which Canyon was trying to decide, well, will we bring in video? I don’t remember meetings with the whole body of makers.

I do remember meetings for the Film Arts Foundation, but maybe I just missed those meetings. We definitely didn’t have internet then, but we had these newsletters, and Dominic Angerame would send them out. Is it 626-2255? Is that the phone number for Canyon?

Brett Kashmere: I have not memorized it yet,

Lynne Sachs: Oh, but see, these predate cell phones. I think it’s 415, somebody might verify that.

Brett Kashmere: Yeah, that’s right.

Lynne Sachs: 626-2255. I called it all the time. If that’s a verification of my relationship to Canyon, I think it’s been the same phone number for, it’s moved with Canyon as it’s moved locations. Also, I got to know Bruce Bailey a little bit, and I never really met Chick Strand, but I knew her films so well, so I felt a connection to those early years.

Brett Kashmere: I want to maybe transition into talking more specifically about some of the films that are currently streaming as part of Prismatic Ground, maybe starting with Still Life with Women and Four Objects, which you mentioned earlier. It feels kind of like a classical first film in the way that it was shot and edited, but then it’s also doing some interesting things with narrative and performance.

It has this critique of female representation and the conventions around that. I’m curious where the idea for the film came from. Was it made for a class? If so, was there a particular prompt that you were responding to?

Lynne Sachs: Oh, I have to tell you, there’s one embarrassing prompt, and that I was taking, at San Francisco State, they had a class, which was for those of us who didn’t know how to make movies, which actually, most of us did not. It was like a jump start into 16 millimeter production. We were shooting with Arriflex cameras, and recording sound on Nagras quarter inch tape, but there was one requirement, which was that you had to have at least one shot in sync.

That film has one, it allows me to always know if it’s out of sync. The woman who is the actor in the film, she says, “For women too.” That’s the only sync shot in the whole film. I actually didn’t shoot anything in sync for about 10 years after that. I was kind of resentful of having to shoot something in sync, but I actually liked the burst. It’s like a burst into the moment, a burst into the diegetic space, as they would’ve said back then. That film, I believe, was quite influenced by, let’s say, seeing something like Lives of Performers by Yvonne Rainer, where you could get into a person’s head.

I learned in those early years, or not learned isn’t the right word, but I started to believe that, for the most part, commercial cinema was working with actors as if they were props. I wanted to allow, and I’ve done this ever since that movie, to allow anyone who is in front of my camera to at least collaborate in an intellectual way. The woman who was in the film was a bit older than I was, and I thought quite wise. I said, “Okay, when you come to our set, please bring something that means a great deal to you.”

She brought a picture of Emma Goldman, and I didn’t know who Emma Goldman was at that time. Now I do, and I know what an important figure she is in history for women, and for owning our own bodies, and sort of empowerment, and freedom of sexuality, all of those things. Because she brought the picture, it stirred me, it made things happen. I had to find out who she was. This was before Wikipedia, but it was not that hard to find out who Emma Goldman was.

Then I had to integrate that. I wanted that, there was a kind of register around an important woman in history. Then there was the woman in front of the camera, and then my grandmother died at that time, so I dedicated the film to my grandmother around the time that I made the film. When you saw in the film that she does something three times, she puts on a coat three times, that artificiality of take one, take two, take three, that was part of the structuring and expectation of a search for perfection, which I felt commercial cinema, you would only do take one, take two, take three with the thought that they would get better.

I didn’t care about getting better, but I cared about the recognition that there was a process. That is your typical realization in a film which wanted to lay bare. I guess I was probably reading Brecht at this time, to lay bare the process.

Brett Kashmere: It’s interesting what you’re just saying about collaboration with your on-screen subject or your performer, because I feel like that also, that kind of slipping between narrative and documentary, or real people in real life, also is very much a part of your most recent documentaries, like the Washing Society, where you’re taking documentary tropes but twisting them a little bit.

They have this kind of uncanny effect that feels very fresh, but also is kind of like a throwback to the post-realist kinds of films that Jill Godmilow, and Harun Farocki, and Minh-ha were making, this more synthetic, kind of hybrid style of nonfiction cinema.

Lynne Sachs: I would definitely say that those three people, Jill Godmilow and Farocki, who were working in spaces, let’s say, in that could not be completely controlled. All of us wanted to throw ourselves into environments where things were porous, where the world was going to disrupt or fracture our hermetic space of the set, but we also were drawn to the set. There was this idea that the set was a place to kind of build up ideas, so build up theories and explorations.

That kind of fluidity between the real and the constructed was very exciting. One of the challenges was how do you reveal that through the making of the film? In the Washing Society, I worked with a dear friend, again, who is a playwright, Lizzie Olesker, and we would go into laundromats, and talk to laundry workers, but then we would take what we heard, and create scripts for actors. There were all a bunch of different ways that we could analyze. I’m sorry, there’s a little noise out there, so just one second.

Brett Kashmere: Sure.

Lynne Sachs: Can you all be quiet, please? Hey, you know what? That was a perfect example. We’re on our set, and there’s all this noise going on out there. Anyway, so in the Washing Society, the fact that we moved over to theater came from the obstacle of trying to talk to people who are living in the United States in very compromised situations, where their documentation, as we alluded to in the film, was always in question. We liberated them from being, and they liberated us, by refusing to be on camera most of the time.

Then we would start to work with actors, but then we had other people who felt comfortable enough being on camera, or maybe didn’t have such an awkward or vulnerable position in the United States. Sometimes I think that those kinds of obstacles force you to think about new forms, ways of working.

Brett Kashmere: Speaking of new forms and ways of working, I wanted to ask about House of Science and Which Way is East, which are from the early nineties, are maybe two of your best known films. They feature a lot of what I associate as signature elements of your work, the use of the first person voiceover, but also bringing in multiple voices and multiple narrators, on-screen text, like seeing your handwritten text, optical printing, the mixing of self-shot and archival footage, and just this very layered sort of construction that’s using a lot of different kinds of strategies.

I’m curious how you arrived at this form of personal documentary. Was this a conscious choice that you were working towards, like wanting to make essayistic, first-person films, or was this a more just natural development of where your interests were going and your sensibility as a filmmaker?

Lynne Sachs: I will tell an anecdote that happened in the, let’s say, mid-eighties. I saw Chris Marker’s film, Sans Soleil, which had such an impact on so many filmmakers, still to this day, this freedom of engaging with everything in his life. He wrote about it. He wrote in the first person, but it wasn’t his first person. There was a refraction that happened. You actually have a woman’s voice.

I saw that film, and it just rearranged everything in my head. It allowed for this exploration, it allowed for manipulation, with the hope that some kind of poetry might come out of it, it created a character who wasn’t really a character, but was the self. I loved everything about it. I watched it many times on a VHS tape that had been given to me. Then I wrote a letter to Chris Marker, and I said, “I’m in graduate school, but I’m thinking I need to take a break. Maybe I’ll move to Paris. Do you need an assistant?”

He wrote me back and he said, “Oh, no, no, no, I don’t need an assistant, but let’s get together when I come to San Francisco.” We started a friendship that lasted, I don’t know, till his death, actually. I ended up working on a film with him through Icarus Films here, and helped with the translation from French to English. We made this film together about whales called Three Cheers for the Whales that he had made in the seventies, but wanted to make a new version of it.

There was something about seeing his films that allowed me to better understand the notion of writing, and the doubt that comes, that we associate with the essay film. That film was so important to me. Also, while I was making the House of Science, I was actually keeping a diary that had to do with my physical self, like what I would call a somatic recognition of things I was going through.

I was on an airplane, and I was writing it, and then all of a sudden, it occurred to me that, and I was having a hard time making the House of Science, and I said, “Oh, my goodness, actually, this writing is the skeleton for the whole film,” and it just fit right in. I loved doing it. The way that I tried to do that, and people will see this in the film, was you see the handwriting in the beginning of the film with a voice. It’s very complete. The body is solid.

Then you see the handwriting, and you hear the sound of the pencil on a hard surface or paper, and then you see, you’re reading the writing, which is very much about my body, but it could be any woman’s body. You hear, I’m urinating, actually. I wanted to have that, and I’ve been doing that kind of thing ever since, where you play with what is there and then what is pulled away.

Also, in the text in Which Way is East, which I made a few years later, it plays with the translation. I think all film is translation, but this is translation from Vietnamese to English, and there’s an awkwardness in it, and a sort of fragility. My sister and I made that film together, so Dana, her name is Dana Sachs, and she was living in Vietnam then as one of the first journalists to really set herself up there, and to observe the changes in post-war Vietnam.

I went there, and the writing that we both did had to do with her understanding of the culture and my confusion, or my relationship to, my inability to give up, seeing it as an American, and not being able to listen, really listen. We played also with the idea of a parable from one culture, giving you an insight into that culture, as much as words or interviews would do. Both films kind of explore the possibilities of writing, but also the obstacles of text of any kind.

Also, I think the Washing Society does that too. It continues that conversation around translation, because Lizzie Olesker and I used Spanish and Chinese, both translated and not translated, in the film.

Brett Kashmere: I don’t quite have straight the chronology of your filmography, but…

Lynne Sachs: That’s okay.

Brett Kashmere: I think, correct me if I’m wrong, but sometime closely after the completion of Which Way is East, you made Investigation of a Flame. Maybe there was a film in between?

Lynne Sachs: No, there’s about a six-year difference. I made another film called Biography of Lilith.

Brett Kashmere: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Lynne Sachs: I had two children around that time, so maybe I wasn’t quite as able to finish things, but I tried. Yeah, Investigation of a Flame was made in 2001, and mostly it was made while I was living in Baltimore with my husband, Mark Street, and our daughters. I was very, very, very immersed in the activist, political, progressive, civil disobedience community of Baltimore, but also with people who were there who had done actions like that, as protests and actions against the Vietnam War. That came in 2001.

Brett Kashmere: I wanted to talk about that film, because it feels like there’s a turn, or at least a sort of movement away from the self-reflexive style of House of Science and Which Way is East. It’s a more straightforward documentary.

Lynne Sachs: It’s funny, when I made it, there was actually, I think, a radio station in Berkeley. They did some sort of review of it, and they called it an anti-documentary. It does fit into the documentary practice because I’m listening to people, I’m allowing them to express their opinions, there’s a kind of thesis about breaking the law, and I agree that it is not as introspective in that way the other two were.

Brett Kashmere: I’m curious how you became convinced that that’s a film that you yourself should be making?

Lynne Sachs: I mentioned Biography of Lilith, which I made in 1997. It’s full of poetry about Lilith, and that Lilith, there was a night, I’m just mentioning it was super personal, and I was trying to explore the myth of Lilith who wanted to be on top and sex, and she was thrown out of the garden of Eden, and it’s very raw that way, and it’s also about what you gain and lose in becoming a mother.

It was very personal. I was kind of ready to have a little distance, I guess, now when I look back on that. Also, I had, at one point, thought I wanted to be a lawyer, like a civil rights lawyer or something, or maybe a human rights lawyer or a civil. I know a lot of filmmakers who actually did consider law at one point. Then lastly, you’re kind of thinking, how can I maybe naively think you could change the world, or how could I pursue? We didn’t use the word social justice back then, but now we’d say, “How can we right wrong?”

I thought, well, I’m not an attorney. I’m not really an activist. When I moved to Baltimore and we were there three years, I heard about this group of anti-war activists who broke the law for what they believed in. I was just taken by that, that, notion that you make a certain choice in your life and you can never go back in a bigger way. Not just in that political action, but I don’t think getting married is a decision like that, or moving to a new town.

When you make a choice that puts you right in front of the legal system and then throws you in jail, you give up everything, your freedom, for some belief. I was so drawn to the actions of it, Daniel and Philip Berrigan, and the other members of the Catonsville Nine. I just wanted to understand how it happened, and sort of celebrate that, but also not just to elevate them, but to think about those decisions.

Yeah, it was quite different, and it was very much engaged with another side of me that I had mentioned to you. I’d been a history major in college, so it’s a bit about history, but also about something more wrought, like making a decision of that sort.

Brett Kashmere: It’s such a striking film, and I feel like it’s very much of the moment again. I feel like it’s kind of ripe for re-investigation.

Lynne Sachs: Yeah. I made the film, I started making Investigation of a Flame, and people thought it was quaint that I was looking into this anti-war actions of 1968, like people who were interested in hippies in 1968, or people who were interested in the songs of ’68. That’s what people thought. I found in general, people were rather kind of patronizing about it. Then keep in mind, I finished that film at the same time that September 11th happened.

All of a sudden, the issues around breaking the law, as in the people who enacted, the terrorists who did what they did, they also did it in the name of their God. People started to, even on the left, were super critical of what the Catonsville Nine did, to walk into a selective service office, and take draft files, and burn them with Napalm, was an assault on the structure of government, even though it was done with a kind of spiritual faith.

When that film showed towards the end of 2001, it was very controversial, and actually, ever if you did an action like that now, if you walked into a draft office or some kind of US government office and took files, you’d be called a terrorist. Actually, one of the members of the Catonsville Nine, Philip Berrigan, was put in solitary confinement right after September 11, this gentle priest, because people felt threatened by that.

The film on a personal level threw me into a lot of very, very political situations that were remarkable. I feel lucky, like I got to travel around with Daniel Berrigan, who was an incredible hero of mine, and for political reasons, and he was also a poet. To spend all that time with him was real gift.

Brett Kashmere: I guess maybe to move towards wrapping up, can you maybe speak a little bit about the process of working with Barbara Hammer, who I know was one of your early mentors, and your posthumous collaboration, A Month of Single Frames?

Lynne Sachs: Oh, thank you for asking about that. Yeah. I met Barbara Hammer in San Francisco. Both of us were completely enthralled, I can say, by the experimental, and experimental documentary, and maybe even documentary world that was being supported, I mean supported by the community in San Francisco. Actually, she and I were very similar in that we would make films that were, you could say, about, like she made films about Elizabeth Bishop, or she made a film about Maya Deren, but they were also so much more, more complex and more resonant than just being a straight ahead documentary.

We both had feet in those worlds, and she was teaching a class at the Film Arts Foundation on optical printing, and I took it. She was an extraordinary craftswoman in printing. To optical print is to take a frame from one original piece of film, and then to play with it, and replicate it, and stretch it out, or shorten it, or change its colors. She could do all of that so beautifully. I never was the craftswoman that she was.

Then we both moved to New York and we were friends, and especially when she was diagnosed with cancer about 14 or 15 years ago, my husband Mark and I started to become very involved in supporting her through that. She agreed when she turned 70 to allow me to shoot film, a short film, like a one roll of film of her and her partner, Florrie Burke. She was so busy, it took us at six years to get the appointment for me to shoot it.

When I finally shot it, we became even more bonded. I made a film with her, and Gunvor Nelson, and Carolee Schneemann called Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor. Then when she was about a year away, she knew from the end of her life, she asked four of us to make films with materials she had never completed, including Mark and Deborah Stratman.

I made A Month of Single Frames, and that film is comprised visually of material she had shot at a residency on Cape Cod, but through working with the film, I tried to be in conversation with her, with the audience, with the environment in which she was living in, and wondering in a more, call it epistemological way, wonder how the film could allow us to understand our relationship to time and to space through this unusual and very particular medium of cinema.

Brett Kashmere: Well, I think it’s an extraordinary film. It’s so beautiful. It’s close to a perfect film. I encourage everyone, if you haven’t seen it, please check it out. It’s streaming as part of Prismatic Ground until April 18th. It’s also still streaming on Mubi, I believe. Lynne, it was such a pleasure to spend this time with you. Thank you for your words and your work, and thanks again to Inney and Prismatic Ground for having us.

Lynne Sachs: Yeah, I just want to say, ooh, boy, to have the Ground Glass Award. I know what the Ground Glass is because it’s that little piece inside my Bolex that you have. It’s like if you don’t know what the Ground Glass is, you don’t see the grain. It’s so wonderful that he named this award that. All the words that he uses are part of the, in this festival, it’s like they’re part of the materials that we need to make cinema, but they’re also the things that you might ignore.

I love the subtlety that’s part of his, call it nomenclature, of Prismatic Ground, and it’s such an honor to be part of this whole experience. Thank you very much to you for all your great San Francisco-based questions.

Brett Kashmere: You’re welcome. Okay, I think we’re going to leave it there. Thanks, everyone, for tuning in, and bye. Bye for now.

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 

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


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.

Retrospective – “Lynne Sachs: Between Thought and Expression” curated by Edo Choi, Asst. Curator, Museum of the Moving Image


“For more than thirty years, artist Lynne Sachs has constructed short, bold mid-length, and feature films incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, and observational documentary. Her highly self-reflexive films have variously explored the relations between the body, camera, and the materiality of film itself; histories of personal, social, and political trauma; marginalized communities and their labor; and her own family life, slipping seamlessly between modes, from documentary essays to diaristic shorts.” (Edo Choi, Assistant Curator of Film, Museum of the Moving Image)

This five-part retrospective offers a career-ranging survey of Sachs’s work and includes new HD transfers of Still Life With Woman and Four Objects, Drawn and QuarteredThe House of Science: a museum of false facts, and Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam.

Note: The following programs can be rented individually or as a package. A new video interview and between Lynne Sachs and series curator Edo Choi is also available as part of the rental fee.

For rental and pricing information, please contact: info@canyoncinema.com

All films are directed by Lynne Sachs.
Program notes by Edo Choi.

Lynne Sachs in Conversation with Edo Choi, Assistant Curator at the Museum of the Moving Image


Program 1: Early Dissections
In her first three films, Sachs performs an exuberant autopsy of the medium itself, reveling in the investigation of its formal possibilities and cultural implications: the disjunctive layering of visual and verbal phrases in Still Life with Woman and Four Objects; un-split regular 8mm film as a metaphorical body and site of intercourse in the optically printed Drawn and Quartered; the scopophilic and gendered intentions of the camera’s gaze in Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning. These experiments anticipate the range of the artist’s mature work, beginning with her first essayistic collage The House of Science: a museum of false facts. Itself an autopsy, this mid-length film exposes the anatomy of western rationalism as a framework for sexual subjugation via a finely stitched patchwork of sounds and images from artistic renderings to archival films, home movies to staged performances.

Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986, 4 mins.)  New HD transfer
Drawn and Quartered (1987, 4 mins.) – new HD transfer
Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning (1987, 9 mins.)
The House of Science: a museum of false facts (1991, 30 mins.) – new HD transfer

Program 2: Family Travels
One of Lynne Sachs’s most sheerly beautiful films, Which Way Is East is a simultaneously intoxicating and politically sobering diary of encounters with the sights, sounds, and people of Vietnam, as Sachs pays a visit to her sister Dana and the two set off north from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. The film is paired here with a very different kind of family journey The Last Happy Day, recounting the life of Sachs’s distant cousin Sandor Lenard, a Jewish Hungarian doctor who survived the Second World War and was ultimately hired to reassemble the bones of dead American soldiers. Here Sachs journeys through time as opposed to space, as she assembles a typically colorful array of documentary and performative elements, including Sandor’s letters, a children’s performance, and highly abstracted war footage, to bring us closer to a man who bore witness to terrible things. This program also features The Last Happy Day’s brief predecessor, The Small Ones. Program running time: 73 mins.

Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam (1994, 33 mins.) – new HD transfer
The Small Ones (2007, 3 mins.)
The Last Happy Day (2009, 37 mins.)

Program 3: Time Passes
Twenty years unspool over nine short films: portraits of Lynne Sachs’s children; visits with her mother, brother, niece and nephew; a tribute to the city where she lives; and scenes of sociopolitical trauma and protest. Nearly all shot on super 8mm or 16mm, and often silent, each work is at once a preservation of a moment and a record of change, seamlessly weaving together the candid and the performed gesture, the public and the private memory, in a simultaneously objective and subjective posture toward the passing of time. Program running time: 51 mins.

Photograph of Wind (2001, 4 mins.)
Tornado (2002, 4 mins.)
Noa, Noa (2006, 8 mins.)
Georgic for a Forgotten Planet (2008, 11 mins.)
Same Stream Twice (2012, 4 mins.)
Viva and Felix Growing Up (2015, 10 mins.)
Day Residue (2016, 3 mins.)
And Then We Marched (2017, 3 mins.)
Maya at 24 (2021, 4 mins.)

Program 4: Your Day Is My Night
2013, 64 mins. “This bed doesn’t necessarily belong to any one person,” someone says early in Your Day Is My Night. It could be the metaphorical thesis of this film, perhaps Lynne Sachs’s most self-effacing and meditative work. A seamless blend of closely observed verité footage, interpretive performance, and confessional monologues and interviews, the film doesn’t document so much as create a space to accommodate the stories and experiences of seven Chinese immigrants from ages 58 to 78 who live together in a “shift-bed” apartment in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Sachs’s quilted sense of form achieves a new level of refinement and delicacy in collaboration with her cameraman Sean Hanley and her editor Amanda Katz, as she works with the participants to exhume a collective history of migration and struggle.

Program 5: Tip of My Tongue
2017, 80 mins. Sachs’s richly generative Tip of My Tongue finds the filmmaker responding to her 50th birthday by gathering twelve members of her generational cohort—friends and peers all born between 1958 and 1964, and originating as far as Cuba, Iran, and Australia—to participate in the creation of a choral work about the convergent and divergent effects history leaves upon those who live it. From the Kennedy assassination to Occupy Wall Street, the participants reveal their memories of, and reflections upon, the transformative experiences of their lives. Set to an ecstatic, pulsing score by Stephen Vitiello, the film interweaves these personal confessions with impressionistic images of contemporary New York, obscured glimpses of archival footage, and graphically rendered fragments of text to create a radiant prism of collective memory. Preceded by Sachs’s frantic record of accumulated daily to-do lists, A Year in Notes and Numbers (2018, 4 mins.).

Thanks to:

THE FILMS OF LYNNE SACHS Curated by Craig Baldwin at the Roxie (San Francisco)

Curated by Craig Baldwin 


Film About a Father Who +

Two Sidebar Programs

Starts February 12

Fresh from her early 2021 retrospective at New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image, filmmaker Lynne Sachs returns to San Francisco where she lived and went to school (SFSU & SFAI) between 1985 and ‘95. It was here that Lynne really immersed herself in our city’s experimental and documentary community, working closely with local artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Gunvor Nelson and Trinh T. Minh-ha and spending time at the Film Arts Foundation (RIP), Canyon Cinema, SF Cinematheque, and Other Cinema.

“For more than thirty years, artist Lynne Sachs has constructed short, bold mid-length, and feature films incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, and observational documentary. Her highly self-reflexive films have variously explored the relations between the body, camera, and the materiality of film itself; histories of personal, social, and political conflict; marginalized communities and their labor; and her own family life, slipping seamlessly between modes, from documentary essays to diaristic shorts.” – Edo Choi, Assistant Curator of Film, Museum of the Moving Image.

Accompanying our Bay Area premiere of Sachs’s Film About a Father Who, the Roxie offers two accompanying shorts sidebars programmed by filmmaker and Other Cinema curator Craig Baldwin.

Special thanks to Other CinemaCanyon Cinema, and Cinema Guild for their support in organizing this program.


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

Critic’s Pick! “[A] brisk, prismatic and richly psychodramatic family portrait.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

“Sachs achieves a poetic resignation about unknowability inside families, and the hidden roots never explained from looking at a family tree.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

“Formidable in its candor and ambition.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International

Tickets for FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO will be available on February 12



Still from “The House of Science: a museum of false facts”

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)

“As sidebar to her fresh Father feature, here is the first of two shorts programs, showcasing the astonishing cinematic artistry of Lynne Sachs…all made during her san fran years and recently digitally restored. Her ‘89 Sermons offers an early glimmer of her sensitivity to both marginalized communities and their archives, as she gracefully threads ultra-rare ‘30s & ’40s footage from Rev. LO Taylor into a tapestry of visibility and respect for Memphis’ Black community. Her facility for celluloid extrapolation is demonstrated in even more creative ways in House of Science, a personal essay on female identity, told through found footage, poetic text, and playful experimental technique. Which Way is East raises its eyes to engagements in international waters, and to insightful exchanges with her expat sister Dana, towards new understandings of and in the oh-so-historically charged Republic of Vietnam.  Opening is Lynne’s first ever 16mm, Still Life.” – CB

TRT: 96 min.

Tickets for Sidebar 1: INQUIRIES INTO SELF AND OTHER will be available on February 12


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)

“Characteristically, Sachs speaks in first person to cultural difference and dissent, here particularly valorizing acts of resistance and struggles for justice. Her collaboration with the recently deceased lesbian maker Barbara Hammer keynotes this ‘Solidarity’ set, with Lynne literally framing/finishing her mentor’s last project. Younger allies are also acknowledged in Sachs’ inspiring 2017 celebration of women’s political power on contested Washington, DC turf. The 2001 Investigation is a tribute to the courage and conscience of the epochal Berrigan-led burning of Baltimore draft records, made while Sachs was teaching in that town. And the local debut of The Washing Society, produced with playwright Lizzie Olesker, stakes their support of NYC’s low-paid laundry workers—mostly women of color—in even another radiant illumination of the little-seen truths of contemporary race/class inequity.” – CB

TRT: 107 min.

Tickets for Sidebar 2: PROFILES IN COURAGE will be available on February 12