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Hunter MFA MIA Lynne Sachs event “Every Contact Leaves a Trace”

Every Contact Leaves a Trace
a talk by Lynne Sachs
Hunter College Master of Fine Arts
Media Alliance
Zoom
Oct. 20, 2021

For most of her adult life, film artist Lynne Sachs has collected and saved the small business cards that people have given her in all the various places she has traveled – from professional conferences to doctors’ appointments, from film festivals to hardware stores, from art galleries to human rights centers.  In these places, Sachs met and engaged with hundreds of people over a period of four decades, and now she is wondering how these people’s lives might have affected hers or, in turn, how she might have touched the trajectory of their own journey.  During our first hour together, Sachs will expand upon her personal approach to making experimental documentaries and her essayistic method of asking questions of herself and others.  She will interweave clips from her previous works (including The Washing SocietyFilm About a Father Who, and Girl is Presence) and her work-in-process, all of which take a hybrid approach to research and production. She will also touch on the writing of thinkers who have recently been of great importance to her own art-making practice, including theorist of visual culture and contemporary art Tina Campt and scholar and activist Silvia Federici.  In this way, she will examine her own current work, be it inchoate, porous and, like everything that is worth doing, deeply challenging.

In the second half of her presentation, Lynne will ask the audience to make their own new piece. Lynne will share a screen shot of three of the cards from her collection as a prompt for responses.  Participants will choose one card as source material, using performance, forensics, or materiality as their medium of interpretation. Because our meeting will be conducted in a remote context, we will have access to items we find at home in our domestic universe or outside in the place from which we happen to be “zooming” in. At the end of our gathering, we will come together to discuss our own attempts to push as close to failure as we can imagine, and the revelations we discover on the way. 

For almost two years, we’ve all been wondering how and when we can begin to touch each other again.  Somehow, we’ve adapted to the distance – standing six feet apart, hiding our mouths, gliding one elbow along the elbow of another.  And yet in this time, I’ve also begun to wonder how, in my state of social existence, I am also a composite of “the company I keep”, as the expression goes, the people who have passed through my life and left their mark on my skin and my consciousness. 

In forensic science, the perpetrator of a crime brings something of themselves into the crime scene and leaves with something from it. Thus, “Every contact leaves a trace,” and there is always some sort of exchange.

Grappling with this “scientific” phenomenon, I returned to a box of 550 business or calling cards I have collected throughout my adult life. Rifling through the cards, I couldn’t help wondering about each person who offered me this small paper object as a reminder of our brief or protracted 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 earlier this summer, 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.  With the assistance of a forensic specialist, I examined the finger prints on the cards. I learned about their material qualities from a paper maker. Inspired by Jean Luc Godard’s series of TV interviewa about large conceptual topics with two children – France Tour Detour Deux Enfants – I listened nine-year twins glean what they could from the text and images on the cards and then create make-believe dinner parties composed of the individuals represented by the cards.  I visited with NYC artist Bradley Eros who seems to re-invent personae for himself simply by designing new cards. 

Clearly, I love the research. I have filmed each of these experiences. Now, here with you all, I want to return to some earlier projects to see how this way of thinking and working has been an integral part of my art-making process all along.

I am fascinated by the intention with which the cards are produced.  A business card is a distillation of who you are in just a few words, usually the uniform size of 3.5” x 2”. After these months of remote engagement, I am also interested in their haptic nature, the fact that they must be exchanged between two people, hand-to-hand.  

The concept of making distillation has been at the foundation of my work for a very long time.  As an experimental filmmaker and a poet, I am far 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 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, where less might be more.

Tonight, I would like to share scenes from three of my films that most of you have seen thanks to the Hunter Media Alliance. This will give us a place to begin our conversation around the significance of this concept in my work.  

In my film “The Washing Society” (made with playwright Lizzie Olesker), I move from an almost microscopic attention to the most elemental aspects of the clothing we wear and wash, to a wider more place-specific image  of two women folding. I examine the material elements of the threads as they combine with the hair and skin of our bodies. All of this is encapsulated in lint. Lint is comprised of the detritus from our clothing and the hair, skin and mucus of our bodies.  It is a substance that some people find soft and comforting and others find disgusting.  Lint can be a ritualized expression of cleanliness or an abject reminder of decay. I discovered a divide in our culture, when I decided to hand out pieces of lint to every person who entered the live performance version of this work, which I call “Every Fold Matters”. There were those people who fiddled familiarly with the material throughout the show and others who immediately through it to the floor.  Lint is a somatic substance that can allows to find a material intimacy with others.

“The Washing Society” 
Lint shot and women working 14:43 – 17:00

No matter which way you feel, the experience of lint suggests touch. The most significant distinction in this conversation, however, is “Does the substance come from me or my family or someone else, a stranger or someone cleaning our clothing?”  And, if the answer is someone else, then we are talking about labor, service and wages.  

I am currently working on Hand Book: A Manual, a book version of this project to be published next year by Ice Floe Press.  A section of this book will include a recent conversation with the feminist historian and activist Silvia Federici. Federici helps us to understand better the relationship of this form of hidden, under-valued “reproductive” labor to the functioning of our economy. Over time, in the film, I push the lint to embody this resonance and complexity. 

In “Girl is Presence” (made with poet Anne Lesley Selcer), I filmed my daughter Noa during the most intense part of the pandemic in New York City. 

Play first two minutes of “Girl is Presence”: 

Noa is listening to a poem, one that happens to derive its every word from French philosopher George Bataille’s treatise “Solar Anus” where he writes: 

“If the origin of things is … like the circular movement that the planet describes around a mobile center, then a car, a clock, or a sewing machine could equally be accepted as the generative principle. An abandoned shoe, a rotten tooth, a dog devouring the stomach of a goose, a drunken vomiting woman, a slobbering accountant, a jar of mustard … are to love what a battle flag is to nationality.”

Wow!  This is a distillation, exactly what I am trying to do in all of these films. Create relationships of association between things. Refer to things as essences rather than explanations.  Before our eyes, my daughter moves her hand across a table arranging and re-arranging a series of mysterious – at least to her – objects from my own past as an articulation of her desire for a new order. We are witnessing a series of internal choices based on who she is. Again, like we saw with the lint earlier, hands rather than an entire body or a face are an integral part of my exploration of a dynamic my camera – and thus you – is witnessing.  

Does this film become a portrait, of sorts, through distillation? Does Noa’s tactile connection to these objects – or props in a more conventional film situation – offer us a context by which we can consider the impact that objects themselves have on our thinking?

I start my most recent feature “Film About a Father Who” with an image of me combing and detangling my father’s hair.  This is something I have done quite a bit with him over the last few years, as he and I have aged.  As you watch us, the scene feels both tender and a little painful. His skin is wrinkled and his hair is greyish-white. I am younger, middle aged, they say. He winces but he seems grateful. 

The next shot is an older image from his own home video storage bin, shot on Hi 8 probably in the early 1990s.  The tape has been stored in a garage, it has aged with time, decayed, been reduced to a few soft pastel colors. When I first came across it a couple of years ago, I immediately dismissed it as too deteriorated to even consider using.  A few months later, I thought about it again and realized that it was absolutely essential to the entire film. By breaking down this seven-minute shot into three parts placed in the beginning, middle and end of the film, I discovered an image vessel into which I might be able to generate three distinct responses from my audience. On initial “contact”, you are introduced to three archetypal young children playing in a stream. On second viewing, you know that these are two boys and a girl who are members of the filmmaker’s family and that the family dynamic is complex, fraught and not-at-all nuclear in the conventional sense. On third viewing, you as viewer bring to it your awareness of how these children grew into being adults and how they each are grappling with their relationship to their father.  Each iteration is a distillation, an evolving impression of this family and maybe family in general. We know that each interaction a father has with his child leaves a trace, each contact we have with an image leaves an impression of some kind. 

Opening shot of “Film About a Father Who”

https://vimeo.com/358398460

In cultural critic and scholar Tina M. Campt’s book Listening to Images, 

“She explores a way of listening closely to photography by engaging with lost archives of historically dismissed photographs of black subjects. Through her inventive audio-based confrontation with images, Campt looks beyond what one usually sees and attunes her senses to the other affective frequencies through which these photographs register.”

Thinking about Campt’s insistence that we “listen” and thus imagine the sounds of a life’s experience that has not been fully embraced or recorded, I too had to recognize another layer to these images. While at first glance my own family images seem celebrate and exemplify a welcoming and nourishing scenario, we know so much more about what we’re are not seeing: two sisters who have never represented. In the last image, I and you recognize this absence. The transparency is not visible but it is palpable. In this way, we recognize that these images are not so much a distillation of what we do see but what we don’t.

Take questions.

Stevie shares cards.

Instructions: Play in the space between the reality of the card and a conceptual response. Using only the materials you have at your fingertips, respond to these cards. Think about addresses, geography, fonts, numbers, names, the person you imagine made the card, the graphics, what is revealed, what is not revealed. 

Push yourself from the specifics to the abstract; reverse the “bio pic” approach; make a piece that evokes rather than explains.

Form: sculpture, video, performance, sound.

8:00  Lynne presents  idea for the interactive project. People can make sculpture, shoot with camera, perform.

8:05  Everyone turns off camera and begins to make their piece.

8:20  Everyone returns. Viewing using speaker viewing. Stay muted. Stevie will call on you and you will activate speaker viewer. All participants write down a couple of words to remind them of the work. Note, you need to unpin and return to gallery view each time. People who shot video may screen share.

8:35  Return to gallery and everyone displays their work at once. We cannot do simultaneous screen share so people who shot video must put their phones up to their computer camera. 

8:40 Begin conversation together about process.

Lynne Sachs: Criterion Octet

EXCLUSIVE STREAMING PREMIERES

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13

FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO

Featuring seven short films and a new introduction by the filmmaker

Over a period of thirty-five years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16 mm 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. Like a cubist rendering of a face, Sachs’s cinematic exploration of her father offers multiple, sometimes contradictory, views of a seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame yet privately shrouded in mystery. With this meditation on fatherhood and masculinity, Sachs allows herself and her audience to see beneath the surface of the skin, beyond the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, she discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.

This exclusive streaming premiere is accompanied by a selection of experimental short films by Sachs, many of which also reflect her probing exploration of family relationships

  • Which Way Is East, 1994
  • The Last Happy Day, 2009
  • Wind in Our Hair, 2010
  • The Washing Society, 2018
  • Girl Is Presence, 2020
  • E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo, 2021
  • Maya at 24, 2021

Featured in the following collections: women directors, shorts collections, exclusive streaming


Selected clips from original Criterion Channel interview with Lynne Sachs by Tara Young:


Criterion Channel adds “Film About a Father Who” Director’s Commentary

Watch it here: https://www.criterionchannel.com/film-about-a-father-who/videos/film-about-a-father-who-commentary

The Film Stage – “New to Streaming: The Velvet Underground, Lynne Sachs, I’m Your Man, Copshop & More “

New to Streaming: The Velvet Underground, Lynne Sachs, I’m Your Man, Copshop & More
The Film Stage
By Jordan Raup
October 15, 2021
https://thefilmstage.com/new-to-streaming-the-velvet-underground-lynne-sachs-im-your-man-copshop-more/

Each week we highlight the noteworthy titles that have recently hit streaming platforms in the United States. Check out this week’s selections below and past round-ups here.

Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond)
It is hard to think of a recent horror film––or a film of any genre, really––in which the main character is tasked with a job as original and ingenious as Enid Baines, the protagonist of Prano Bailey-Bond’s riveting Censor. She is, yes, the titular censor. It is 1980s England, the time of “video nasties” that drew parental consternation and tabloid outrage. These were the low-budget, ultra-violent VHS cassettes that earned their own category in the collective consciousness. Not all were UK productions––I Spit On Your Grave and Abel Ferrara’s Driller Killer made the list. In Censor, however, the nasties are homegrown, in more ways than one.  Chris S. (full review)
Where to Stream: Hulu

Copshop (Joe Carnahan)
It’d be hard to argue Joe Carnahan isn’t permanently stuck in 1997. Operating well past the point where dozens upon dozens of Tarantino knockoffs were inescapable on video store shelves and in shoebox auditoriums across America, he seems, if anything, intent on morphing the ’90s aesthetic into a new form of classicism for the 21st century. As the kind of guy who still finds slow-motion gunfights cool a full three decades after Hollywood caught wind of Hard Boiled, it’s nice he at least believes in a tangible, quasi-human cinema. – Ethan V. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD

Film About a Father Who and More Films by Lynne Sachs
Along with her new documentary Film About a Father Who, The Criterion Channel is featuring seven shorts from director Lynne Sachs, including Which Way Is East (1994), The Last Happy Day (2009), Wind in Our Hair (2010), The Washing Society (2018), Girl Is Presence (2020), E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo (2021), and Maya at 24 (2021). Jared Mobarak said in his review of her latest feature, “While director Lynne Sachs admits her latest documentary Film About a Father Who could be superficially construed as a portrait (the title alludes to and the content revolves around her father Ira), she labels it a reckoning instead. With thirty-five years of footage shot across varied formats and devices to cull through and piece together, the result becomes less about providing a clear picture of who this man is and more about understanding the cost of his actions. Whether it began that way or not, however, it surely didn’t take long to realize how deep a drop the rabbit hole of his life would prove. Sachs jumped in to discover truths surrounding her childhood only to fall through numerous false bottoms that revealed truths she couldn’t even imagine.”
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel

Gunda (Victor Kossakovsky)
In 2018, Victor Kossakovsky set out to shoot Aquarela, a survey-symphony that took the Russian documentarian around the world to capture glaciers, waterfalls, frozen lakes, oceans, and storms. Water, art-speak waffle as it may sound, served as Aquarela’s only protagonist: in that hyper-high-definition blue canvas, human faces seldom popped up, and voices were seldom heard, as Kossakovsky’s focus centered squarely on his liquid star alone.  A mystifying follow-up working again to question and depart from an anthropocentric perspective, here comes Gunda, a black-and-white, dialogue-free documentary chronicling a few months in the lives of the animals stranded in a Norwegian farm. – Leonardo G. (full review)Where to Stream: Hulu

I’m Your Man (Maria Schrader)
Falling in love with a robot isn’t good news, as Her and Blade Runner (both 2019 and 2049) tell us. In I’m Your Man, unspooling in competition at Berlin, a forty-something museum director (Maren Eggert) is justifiably nervous—she’s in a film named after a Leonard Cohen track, which is only asking for trouble—when asked to try out a new romantic partner. That’s because this is a “humanoid robot,” Tom, algorithmically aligned to her romantic preferences and played by dashing English actor Dan Stevens in a performance in which he impressively speaks fluent German. – Ed F. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD

Needle in a Timestack (John Ridley)
For a movie about a fated love (Leslie Odom Jr.’s Nick and Cynthia Erivo’s Janine) being undermined by a jealous ex (Orlando Bloom’s Tommy), I didn’t expect to witness a scene towards the start where the latter philosophically (and selfishly) attempts to legitimize his sabotage by explaining how every love is, by definition, another’s missed opportunity. He points out a random woman in the bar and tells Nick that whomever she falls for will be the lucky one of millions, setting off a chain reaction that diverts all the other men and women destined to have crossed her path as suitable partners somewhere else instead. The sentiment is intriguing and full of possibilities well outside the scope of what appeared to be a run-of-the-mill, time travel romance. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD

Rat Film (Theo Anthony)
It’s not often that a documentary with such a clear focus surprises and unnerves you. Rat Film, directed by Theo Anthony, finds its narrative in the parallel between rat-control efforts in Baltimore and the redlining that has kept certain neighborhoods in the city locked in poverty and crime. With a passionate attention to historical detail and nuance that is belied by the robotic narration of Maureen Jones, the film seduces the audience into following its train of thought through moments and ideas both grotesque and harrowing. Some of the tangents and paths of thought that Rat Film travels are surreal to the point of abstraction, but at the end of it all your view of urban development and its impact on human lives will have been fundamentally altered for the better. – Brian R.
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel

The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes)
If you told people in 1967 that Andy Warhol’s house band just released one of the most revered rock albums of all-time, they would ask what they’re called, and when you told them they would laugh. As far as the public was concerned, there were a hundred acts capable of that historical success in the ‘60s, and none were called the Velvet Underground (or Nico). To a certain extent they would be right. It would be another decade before the banana-adorned The Velvet Underground & Nico would have its pop cultural comeuppance and over half a century before the glam avant-garde group would receive definitive documentary treatment by one of the best living filmmakers. But as history and said doc have proven, we would have the last laugh in that exchange. – Luke H. (full review)
Where to Stream: Apple TV+

Also New to Streaming
MUBI (free for 30 days)
The Third Lover
Landru 
Moving On
In Search of the Famine
Corporate Accountability
I Like Life a Lot
Two Gods

THIS WEEK: CAT RADIO CAFÉ: FILMMAKERS LYNNE SACHS AND LIZZIE OLESKER ON “THE WASHING SOCIETY”

And THE HOUR OF LATERAL THINKING ON CANDY|
October 10/11, midnight-1 am

CAT RADIO CAFÉ: FILMMAKERS LYNNE SACHS AND LIZZIE OLESKER ON THE WASHING \SOCIETY

On tonight’s show, we’ll be joined by filmmaker Lynne Sachs and theater and performance maker and labor organizer Lizzie Olesker to discuss their 2018 film, The Washing Society, and to celebrate the debut of eight of Lynne Sachs’s films on the prestigious list of Criterion Classics. The Criterion series relates to feminism, complicated parent-child relationships, female adolescence, Vietnam, the Holocaust and historic labor movements. Both The Washing Society and last year’s remarkable Film About a Father Who are among them.

Lynne Sachs’s cinematic works defy genre through the use of the essay film, collage, performance, documentary and poetry. Her films explore the intricate connection between personal observations and broader historical experiences. She has made 40 films which have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Wexner Center, the Walker, the Getty, New York Film Festival and Sundance. In 2021, Edison Film Festival and Prismatic Ground Film Festival at Maysles Documentary Center awarded Sachs for her body of work. Her first book of poetry, “Year by Year Poems, was published by Tender Buttons Press in  2019. In 2020 and 2021, she taught film and poetry workshops at Beyond Baroque, Flowchart Foundation and Hunter.

Lizzie Olesker has been making theater and performances in New York City for several decades, reflecting on the politics and poetry of everyday experience. She’s created a series of solo pieces and plays around different aspects of domestic work, recently Infinite Miniatures (a solo piece with objects at a kitchen table) and Five Stages of Grief (a play starring a home care attendant and a ghost). Olesker’s first film, The Washing Society, which she co-directed with Lynne Sachs, grew out of their site-specific performance piece in New York City laundromats, Every Fold Matters. She teaches documentary theater at the New School and playwriting at NYU. She is also an organizer and adjunct representative with UAW Local 7902, and part of its movement to organize higher education and other professional workers.

The Washing Society opens in New York City at the Metrograph on December 11. You can find it and other Lynne Sachs films on the Criterion Channel (https://www.criterionchannel.com). Search for “Lynne Sachs.”

Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer
Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5FM
Streaming live at www.wbai.org
Archived at www.wbai.org/archive and www.catradiocafe.com 
Facebook at catradiocafe@facebook.com
Twitter @catradiocafe
and
New! New! New Home at prn.fm!!
PODCAST at https://thehouroflateralthinking.podbean.com

IDA: Sachs on Criterion Channel

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021
Screen Time: Week of September 27, 2021
BY BEDATRI D. CHOUDHURY
https://www.documentary.org/blog/screen-time-week-september-27-2021

 Two female laundry workers are wearing floral aprons and standing against a wooden wall. From Lynne Sachs’ ‘The Washing Society.’ Courtesy of The Criterion Channel.

Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home. 

At IDA, we deeply mourn the passing of Melvin Van Peebles, the “the godfather of modern Black cinema.” Van Peebles was an actor, poet, artist, filmmaker and playwright, among other things. Celebrate his humbling legacy with filmmaker Joe Angio’s How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It)on Amazon Prime. 

In Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, filmmaker Jia Zhangke speaks to three authors who, like Jia, all hail from China’s Shanxi province. Through their conversations and writings, the filmmaker reconstructs a portrait of his homeland from the prism of the 1950s social revolution and the unrest it brought along. Starting September 30, you can watch the film on Mubi. 

Also playing on Mubi is Hannah Jayanti’s delightful science fiction documentary, Truth or Consequences. Taking off a fictional premise, the documentary takes place around the world’s first commercial Spaceport in New Mexico. Through its gaze set on a near future, the film unravels our histories and weaves them all with empathy and adventure.

Afro-Cuban musician brothers Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán grew up learning the violin and the piano—separated from one another; one in Russia and the other in Cuba. Los Hermanos, directed by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider, follows the brothers as they collaborate (for the first time) and perform all across the US. The film is available to view on PBS starting October 1.

When filmmaker Sian-Pierre Regis’ mother, Rebecca, is let go from her job, Regis decides to take her on trips across the world. As the son helps take items off his mother’s bucket list, he reveals the dark underscoring of American society by ageism, the care crisis, and economic insecurity. Duty Free is a documentary that emerges out of the mother-son travels as Rebecca reclaims her life and dreams. Watch the film on Vimeo. 

Familial relationships also form the core of many of Lynne Sachs’ experimental nonfiction works. Starting October 1, you can watch seven of her experimental shorts on Criterion ChannelWhich Way Is East (1994), The Last Happy Day (2009), Wind in Our Hair (2010), The Washing Society (2018), Girl Is Presence (2020), E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo (2021), and Maya at 24 (2021). 

October 2021 Programming on Criterion Channel to Include Lynne Sachs Octet

OCTOBER 2021 PROGRAMMING ON THE CRITERION CHANNEL ANNOUNCED
CriterionCast
Ryan Gallagher
September 26, 2021
https://criterioncast.com/column/calendar/criterion-channel/october-2021-programming-on-the-criterion-channel-announced

Each month, the programmers at the Criterion Channel produce incredible line-ups for their subscribers. For October, the Channel will feature films from Wayne Wang, Arthur Dong, Doris Wishman, and more!

Below you’ll find the programming schedule for the month, along with a complete list of titles that Criterion has in store for us. Don’t forget to check the Criterion Channel’s main page regularly though, as they occasionally will drop surprises that aren’t included in the official press release.

EXCLUSIVE STREAMING PREMIERES

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13

FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO

Featuring seven short films and a new introduction by the filmmaker

Over a period of thirty-five years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16 mm 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. Like a cubist rendering of a face, Sachs’s cinematic exploration of her father offers multiple, sometimes contradictory, views of a seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame yet privately shrouded in mystery. With this meditation on fatherhood and masculinity, Sachs allows herself and her audience to see beneath the surface of the skin, beyond the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, she discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.

This exclusive streaming premiere is accompanied by a selection of experimental short films by Sachs, many of which also reflect her probing exploration of family relationships

  • Which Way Is East, 1994
  • The Last Happy Day, 2009
  • Wind in Our Hair, 2010
  • The Washing Society, 2018
  • Girl Is Presence, 2020
  • E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo, 2021
  • Maya at 24, 2021

Deadline Exclusive: “Raw And Deeply Personal”: Octet Of Lynne Sachs Documentaries Coming to Criterion Channel

By Matthew Carey
August 13, 2021 5:43pm
https://deadline.com/2021/08/criterion-channel-director-lynne-sachs-streaming-debut-news-1234814823/

EXCLUSIVE: A collection of documentaries from acclaimed filmmaker Lynne Sachs is coming to the Criterion Channel in October. 

The streaming platform will showcase seven Sachs films beginning October 1, ranging from the 1994 short Which Way Is East to her most recent work, including E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo, an exploration of the French director’s classic 1933 film Zero for Conduct (Zéro de Conduite). 

On October 13, the Criterion Channel will exclusively stream her latest feature documentary, Film About a Father Who, which examines Sachs’ relationship with her unorthodox father, Ira Sachs Sr, whose children include Lynne and fellow filmmaker Ira Sachs Jr.

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,” the director has written. “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.”

RELATED STORY

Cinema Guild Acquires Lynne Sachs’ Slamdance Docu ‘Film About A Father Who’

Penelope Bartlett, director of programming at the Criterion Channel, commented, “The Criterion Channel is thrilled to present the exclusive streaming premiere of Lynne Sachs’ Film About a Father Who this October. This raw and deeply personal excavation of the filmmaker’s complex family history will be accompanied by a number of Sachs’ experimental shorts, many of which also focus on exploring familial dynamics and family histories.”

Sachs’ work was the subject of a career retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image this year and at Sheffield Doc/Fest last year. Sachs has been the recipient of support from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation.

“Since the 1980s, Lynne Sachs has created cinematic works that defy genre through the use of hybrid forms and cross-disciplinary collaboration, incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, documentary and poetry,” according to the director’s website. “Her highly self-reflexive films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. With each project, Lynne investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself.”

The Criterion Channel programming will include a newly-recorded interview with Sachs discussing her work. Complete details on the Sachs’ documentaries coming to the platform: 

Debuting on the Criterion Channel Oct. 13:

FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO (2020)
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 is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings.

Debuting on the Criterion Channel Oct. 1:
E•PIS•TO•LAR•Y: LETTER TO JEAN VIGO (2021)

In a cinema letter to French director Jean Vigo, Lynne Sachs ponders the delicate resonances of his 1933 classic Zero for Conduct in which a group of school boys wages an anarchist rebellion against their authoritarian teachers.

MAYA AT 24 (2021)
Conscious of the strange simultaneous temporal landscape that only film can convey, we watch Maya in motion at each distinct age.

GIRL IS PRESENCE (2020)
During the 2020 global pandemic, filmmaker Lynne Sachs and her daughter Noa collaborated with Anne Lesley Selcer to create Girl is Presence. Against the uncertain and anxious pandemic atmosphere, inside domestic space, the ‘girl’ arranges and rearranges a collection of small and mysterious things.

THE WASHING SOCIETY (2018)
Collaborating together for the first time, filmmaker Lynne Sachs and playwright Lizzie Olesker observe the disappearing public space of the neighborhood laundromat and the continual, intimate labor that happens there.  With a title inspired by the 1881 organization of African-American laundresses, The Washing Society investigates the intersection of history, underpaid work, immigration, and the sheer math of doing laundry.

WIND IN OUR HAIR  (2010)
Inspired by the stories of Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, yet blended with the realities of contemporary Argentina, Wind in Our Hair is an experimental narrative about four girls discovering themselves through a fascination with the trains that pass by their house. A story of early-teen anticipation and disappointment, Wind in Our Hair is circumscribed by a period of profound Argentine political and social unrest.

THE LAST HAPPY DAY (2009)
During WWII, the US Army hired Sachs’ Hungarian cousin, Dr. Sandor Lenard, to reconstruct the bones of dead American soldiers. Sachs’ portrait of Lenard, who is best known for his translation of Winnie the Pooh into Latin, resonates as an anti-war meditation composed of letters, abstracted war imagery, home movies of children, and interviews.

WHICH WAY IS EAST (1994)
When two American sisters travel north from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, conversations with Vietnamese strangers and friends reveal to them the flip side of a shared history. Lynne and Dana Sachs’ travel diary of their trip to Vietnam is a collection of tourism, city life, culture clash, and historic inquiry that’s put together with the warmth of a quilt.

“The Washing Society” Screening at Kinesthesia Moving Image Festival

Kinesthesia Moving Image Festival
16 – 18 July 2021
Middlesex University, London
https://kinesthesiafestival.org/

Program

Screening 1
Friday, 16 July, 6.30pm

Falling
Mary Trunk, United States, 2020, 05:19
Intertidal. Barene
Collettivo Confluenze Paloma Leyton & Lucrezia Stenico, Italy, 2019, 14:50 
We Are Ready Now
Jack Thomson, United Kingdom, 2020, 01:39
Unfurling
Alexa Velez, United States, 2019, 02:18

Screening 2
Saturday, 17 July, 12p

Reasonable Adjustments
Anna Macdonald, United Kingdom, 2020, 05:21
LAND/SCAPE
Michal Krawczyk, Italy, 2020, 07:10
Jam upload download upload jam
Sumedha Bhattacharyya, India, 2020, 06:00
notes on symptoms
Alice Gale-Feeny, United Kingdom, 2020, 12:51
This dance has no end
Fenia Kotsopoulou, Greece, 2018, 10:58

Screening 3
Saturday, 17 July, 4pm

WHITE CANE
Bo Lee Germany / Republic of Korea / Kenya, 2017, 08:16
the moon rises in four parts
Michaela Gerussi and Tracy Valcarcel, Canada, 2019, 10:00
Canis Major
Charli Brissey, United States, 2019, 10:00
Chickadee
Chan Sze-Wei, Singapore, 2018, 03:22
LIQUID PATH
Filomena Rusciano, Italy, 2013, 04:00

Screening 4
Saturday, 17 July, 7.45pm

The Washing Society
Lynne Sachs, Lizzie Olesker, United States, 2018, 44:00

Screening 5
Sunday, 18 July, 12pm

Far Flung Dances – II (The Wood)
Mary Wycherley, Ireland, 2020, 06:00
Water,logged
Sandra Alland, United Kingdom, 2020, 08:07
That’s how I remember her 
Naomi Midgelow, United Kingdom, 2020, 04:38
My Days
Katsura Isobe, United Kingdom, 2020, 05:18
Dirt
Helanius J. Wilkins, Roma Flowers, United States, 2020, 12:00

Screening 6
Sunday, 18 July, 3.30pm

Chapter 2: A Wet Bio Coder
Better Lovers, Hsin-Yu Chen, United States, 2020, 8:28
SUNLESS
Corina Andrian (Red-Cor), Romania, 2020, 07:27
Observations
Davide Belotti, Belgium, 2020, 04:08
Lorelei – Persona
Gustavo Gomes, Germany, 2020, 07:03
Custard Is This (Custard at Dawn)
Emma Lindsay, United Kingdom, 2019, 03:15


About

Kinesthesia is a new moving image festival taking place at Middlesex University and online 16 – 18 July 2021.

Kinesthesia puts focus on the body as the agent of seeing rather than as an object of display, inviting audiences to experience film and moving image work from an embodied perspective.  

Initiated by artists Dominique Rivoal and Claire Loussouarn, this new festival has been curated and produced collectively by them, freelance film curator Gitta Wigro and co-directors of Independent Dance Heni Hale and Nikki Tomlinson. The contributing artists were found via an international open call, and selected by the festival team with guest panellist Adesola Akinleye.  

As a team we are exploring how film can be made and viewed kinaesthetically. Bringing together wide interests in dance, somatic practices, experimental film and sensory ethnography, Kinesthesia focuses on movement beyond visual impact and narrative, to consider the whole range of sensory experiences, including visceral, proprioceptive and haptic awareness.   This edition of the festival combines screenings, short workshops, installation and discursive sessions that attend to the subtler felt sense of the body. We are delighted that it will be framed by keynote speaker Karen Wood, author of Kinesthetic Empathy : Conditions for Viewing, who will speak about meeting points between screen-based practices, eco-somatics and empathy.  

We are excited to present a distinctive and truly international programme. We thank all the contributing artists, and and all those who submitted work through the call-out. We acknowledge that as a new festival with micro-funding, work is being contributed on a voluntary basis; this not-for-profit festival is also made possible through in-kind work by the whole festival team, and through partnership support from Middlesex University.  

Kinesthesia will take place in hybrid form; in person and online. In keeping with Covid-19 safety protocols, there is a limited capacity for in-person festival tickets. If circumstances allow, further tickets will be released in the coming weeks.   We look forward to welcoming you to Kinesthesia and to experiencing it with you, virtually or in person!

Kinesthesia team

Dominique Rivoal – dance and dance film maker and scholar
Claire Loussouarn – movement artist, filmmaker and anthropologist
Gitta Wigro – freelance dance film programmer and lecturer
Henrietta Hale – dance artist and co-director of Independent Dance
Nikki Tomlinson – co-director of Independent Dance

Cinema Parallels (Bosnia) Presents a Focus on Lynne Sachs

Cinema Parallels
June 10- 12, 2021
Curated by
Adriana Trujillo
https://cinemaparallels.com/en/program/

Edition 2021

The most important question for us in a post-pandemic period was: Do we really need a film festival?

Even when we haven’t return to a total recover, we still need vaccination the total of our population, people are now suffering so many losts, and the virus is still out there.

But the answer to all of this is questions is yes! we need to make reality, the festival again here in Banja Luka. If we believe in images as a language of encounter, in the role of the independent voices and the power of the community, then a film festival is not a distraction or a non-essential activity. It’s actually a necessary coming together.

We want to make sense of our moment, and to try to re-imagine how important is the art in our past time of isolation, in our daily life and in our dreams of a common future.

See you in the cinema soon, and please:

Don’t forget your mask!


About selection

The selection of this year proposes a fluid cartography that explore our current situation as humans. It is more than evident that the pandemic changed the whole society and these dramatic changes and new scenarios also affect films, cinemas and the way “we see”. The current situation with Covid-19, will also be reflected in this year’s festival program, not only in terms of safety measures and limited audience, but also in the form we propose the narrative of this edition that we name it: Re-imagine audio-visions: The present as our future.

For the image of this edition (the poster) we selected the portrait the now famous cover of the Italian magazine La Domenica del Corrier (16, December of 1962), by Walter Molino, where we can see a saturated street of New York, with people in their individual transportation, in a kind of an “individual-personal bubble”, that is actually a “singoletta” (personal bicycle), imagined by Molino as a solution for traffic, but with the pandemic and the social isolation in context, we cannot avoided to connected his retro-futuristic creative projection of our surreal present, here is why we re-call the edition; The present as our future. With this premise in mind, our selection departs precisely from the future. The first day of Cinema Parallels, we will open with: Space Dogs režija: Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter, followed by Lúa vermella režija: Lois Patiño, both films projecting contexts in resemble mirror format, we will see realities from an equidistant visualities.

With this premise in mind, our selection departs precisely from the future. The first day of Cinema Parallels, we will open with: Space Dogs režija: Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter, followed by Lúa vermella režija: Lois Patiño, both films projecting contexts in resemble mirror format, we will see realities from an equidistant visualities.

The second day of the festival we will have Srećan Božić, Yiwu (Merry Christmas, Yiwu) režija: Mladen Kovačević, followed by LYNNE SACHS TRIBUTE with the Washing Society, Tornado, The Small Ones and E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo. The second day we are focused on a retro-visor mirror, about our social and geo-political contexts, and the last day of festival is dedicated to the personal, to our bodies, to our house and intimate spaces, this day we take “our dressing mirror”, we will project Things We Dare Not Do, režija: Bruno Santamaría.

We will close with a regional documentary selection of shorts that we name PARALLELS JOY: Sunce, vrati se (Sunshine, Come Back) režija: Milica Jokić, Korijeni režija: Stefan Tomić, Osamdeset dinara (Eighty Serbian Dinars) režija: Inma de Reyes, University of Disaster and Dreaming of Prey to Grasp Shadow režija: Radenko Milak and Zašto mama vazda plače? (Why is Mom Always Crying?) režija: Karmen Obrdalj.

The pandemic has severely hit the entire audiovisual sector and the situation remains critical in many places, therefore, it is important to organize a film festival, but also, is important to support international and local filmmakers and films. We think in the cinema as a place of resistance; we believe that seeing a movie with other people in a theatre is a powerful and irreplaceable experience, and also is a key place for the encounter with other visions and expand our points of view, at the end, is all about to be exposed to different contexts, realities and images, and from there try to understand us more and more as society, as humans.

See you at the cinema!

Adriana Trujillo


Program

Thursday, June 10

18.00 Festival Opening

18.15 Space Dogs / Dir. Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter / 91 min. / 2019 /Austria – Germany

(Q&A: with Simon Peter, Sound Designer of the film)

20.30 Red Moon Tide Dir. Lois Patiño / 84 min. / 2020 / Spain

Friday, June 11

18.00 Merry Christmas, Yiwu / Dir. Mladen Kovacevic / 94 min. / Serbia
(panel discussion with representatives of the Confucius Institute, University of Banja Luka)
20.30  FOCUS ON LYNNE SACHS
 The Washing Society / 44 min. / 2018 / United States
 Tornado / 4 min. / 2002 / United States
 The Small Ones / 3 min. / 2006 / United States
 E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo / 5 min. / 2021 / United States

Saturday, June 12

18.00 Things We Dare Not Do / Dir. Bruno Santamaría / 75 min. / 2020 / México
20.00 PARALLELS JOY: DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM SELECTION

 Sunshine, Come Back/ Dir. Milica Jokic / 12:23 / 2017 / Serbia
 The Roots / Dir. Stefan Tomic / 15:40 / 2020 / Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Eighty Serbian Dinars / Dir. Inma de Reyes / 10 min. / 2019 / Serbia
 University of Disaster / Dir. Radenko Milak / 13:21 / 2017 / Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Dreaming of Prey to Grasp Shadow / Dir. Radenko Milak / 6:45 / Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Why is Mom Always Crying? / Dir. Karmen Obrdalj / 15:38 / 2019 / Bosnia and Herzegovina
(Q&A: Panel with short film directors, producers, artist and filmmakers)


About Cinema Parallels

Cinema Parallels is devoted to supporting independent and innovative films, screening cinema of the real in all it’s forms and diversity, through a special curatorial selection of international and regional contemporary films in the heart of the Balkans.


Cinema Parallels will celebrate its second edition during spring in Banja. Cinema Parallels is organized by Video Kabinet developed with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Srpska Republic and in partnership with Gradsko Pozorište Jazavac.


Background

The art should ask questions, for which there are often no answers, that it is the basis for the exchange of ideas. Films encourages critical thinking, freedom of expression and creativity, and only then ceases to be goods and entertainment and become culture and art. A culture makes the identity of a city, state, or country. In this context, a festival of contemporary cinema is absolutely necessary for Banja Luka as a epicenter of the Republic of Srpska.

Cinema Parallels born in 2019, with the main idea to develop a place to share, an encounter of unique points of views that are been able to question our world. We are dedicated to program and support moving-image works with singular voices in productions from all around the world in different formats, capturing reality from a different perfective and a wide range of contemporary non-fiction, and bring this productions to the city.

Last year, our festival, like all other cultural projects was postpone.

We explored the possibility of a virtual encounter, buy finally we decide to continue in 2021. We wait until now to recover experiences, audience and images, with the firm and original purpose to keep confronting our world. Believing that films are a point of encounter and a universal language, keeping the idea that in our unprecedent time, conversations and encounters are now act of resistance.

Mubi Notebook: Experimenting and Expanding at Prismatic Ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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