Tag Archives: Tip of My Tongue

Ubiquarian – Reflections 6: What does it mean to contribute to film criticism?

Reflections 6: What does it mean to contribute to film criticism?
Ubiquarian 
By Tara Judah
09/03/2020
http://ubiquarian.net/2020/09/reflections-6-what-does-it-mean-to-contribute-to-film-criticism/

I think about this, often.

Every now and again – probably when producing yet another panel on film production feels onerous – a festival will hold a panel on film criticism. I’ve sat on, in, and around these panels before, but they’re rarely honest. Let’s Get Critical!, the joint virtual brainchild of GSFF (Glasgow Short Film Festival) and Short Waves Film Festival in Poznan, both of which had to postpone earlier this year, was actively and refreshingly interested in this question, and its key word, ‘contribute’.

Laura Walder from Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, Julian Ross from IFFR, and Ubiquarian’s own Marina Richter spoke frankly about the possibility and openness short film affords reflective writing practice, and how, as Walder so perfectly put it, “a dedication to the work” produces good criticism. But spaces where writers can focus on, and really engage with a single short film, according to affect and impact instead of zeitgeist and hot takes, is a rare, beautiful thing. Any time this lack of space comes up – and I have written my share of round-up pieces, so-called Best Ofs, and thematic reports over the years – I wonder why film criticism is so often thought of as the act of reviewing rather than responding to films.

I like to think about art as a call; to action, to arms, to consciousness, to mind, to the self, the Other, to something. Call and response is democratic; broadcasting is tyrannical. Canons and auteur theory would have us all sat in the dark, tuned in to tyranny. But call and response offers us another option: we can participate.

Though unpopular, the idea of ‘reviewing’ films is, to me, turgid. And in the wake of cinematic change, I think we ought to challenge the so-called critical landscape. To review art – even the most plastic therein – strikes me as absurd. 

Imagine if we binned it all: theatrical windows, poster pull quotes, review embargoes, festival and press screening FOMO. Just bin it. What’s left? What survives?

Affect. Impact. Space.

I answer an email telling a filmmaker who has reached out, hopeful I will write about their film, that I’m not writing on fiction features, or as reviews. I don’t say that I can’t understand how reviewing their film would help, but I do wonder why they wrote to me. Not enough to ask. I have other things on my mind: August has flown by and my column is late.

It’s September 3rd and, at 3.30am. I can’t sleep. I have 23 tabs open in my laptop browser and another 42 on my phone. I have just watched Jemma Desai’s “What do we want from each other after we have told our stories?” Desai’s performance is just under fifty minutes but spans lifetimes; written, voiced, recorded, documented, felt, connected and articulated, demonstrating how incredibly gifted she is as a curator and creative. Drawing connections, here, in the form of a desktop documentary, Desai looks at chasms, ancestry, history, movement, historiography, affect, self, feeling and reflective practice in a way that pierces the soul and challenges the fibres of my being. I am not certain that I deserve the affect and education she affords me through her work. I am most concerned that my impetus is to write and talk about her brilliant work when I know I am a part of the whiteness that is clouding her and others in the industry.

I think about how, because of so many things, including personal feelings of fear, guilt and shame, I am and have always been nervous about trying to connect with artists I admire, other than to write or speak about their work. In this way, I exist as a shadow artist. I lurk, somewhere behind a laptop, writing my thoughts and feelings down in the dark. What would happen if I picked up a pen and wrote to someone?

I’ve been thinking about this for weeks as I want to write to Lynne Sachs, whose wonderful films I was given space to engage with and respond to here at Ubiquarian after Doc|Fest’s focus on her. Sachs sent me a copy of her poetry, Year by Year Poems, fifty poems that inspired her film Tip of My Tongue, which is available to watch online, for free. Watching Sachs’ and Desai’s films, both so incredibly cerebral and felt, both so personal, affecting and formally brilliant, I wonder about the role that festivals and cinemas will play in my life – in all our lives – now that the world has forced us to take the time to think and feel differently. If this is indicative of what I would watch when freed from the shackles of a release schedule, the imperative of ‘coverage’ and the self-flagellating FOMO that social media tricks me into believing is a thing IRL, then I wonder if I ever want the world of our industry to return to how it was before. So big and oppressive; so small and narrow.

Desai layers open windows on top of one another, and in layer two we see her forearm and her hand, resting on the edge of her laptop. Sachs shows us the gesticulation of hands as different people – New Yorkers with experiences and feelings from around the world she has gathered to make her movie – tell their stories, share their memories, and reflect upon their embodied lives through the words they can place at the tips of their tongues. These hands are a gesture, to the viewer, showing us that skin matters and offering to connect us, even though those hands themselves were sometimes taken instead of held.

One window in Desai’s desktop doc keeps finding its way to the fore, like a buoy, bobbing up and down, determined to keep afloat, acting as a lifeline for someone stranded out at sea, it reads, “What words say does not last. The words last because words are always the same, and what they say is never the same.” Next to it is a clip of the sea, on a loop, started in the hope of enabling the act of trying again. One voice in Sachs’ visual poem speaks to the inherent impossibility of putting memories or remembering into words, “Some stories we have told over and over, some we have never put into words.” If memory is an abstraction and experience is both lived and felt, then what does it mean to put those things into words and then to put those words into images?

“Everyone is using so many words,” Desai says.

I am using so many words. I have this space, to write and to reflect and, in it, I am wondering if I ‘should’ talk more about how Il Cinema Ritrovato took place online last week but I missed every screening, catching glimpses of Cary Grant in one of his early career roles in rom-com Ladies Should Listen (1934), and snatches of silents as my partner attended, or if I should write about Maneater, a Swedish short film from GSFF where aging white men eat bananas against a pink background, with all of the inuendo that implies, humorously exploring attitudes and preconceptions around gender, sex, and sexuality. Desai talks about disappointment as a dis-appointment of people in posts, and I think about, as I return to work this week, redundancies that have taken place – at my workplace and elsewhere. Instagram and Twitter have this past week been filled with photos of Tate United protestors and the #hashtags #CultureinCrisis and #SaveTateJobs. Desai also talks about disillusionment and hope. Both permeate everything; interior, exterior, and anterior spaces. Her performance contemplates and predicts its reception.

What is the aim of public programming?

Yesterday, eight artistic directors of hefty European film festivals attended the opening night of the 77th Venice International Film Festival. Press releases tell me they reaffirmed the value of cinema. I wonder who was there to hear them.

Am I an ally or am I amplifying myself?

I don’t want to review anything. I want to participate in the alternative ethics of care that Desai talks about when she talks about slowness. I think that what it means to contribute to film criticism is a dedication to the work, as Walder says, and I think, as both Desai and Sachs explicate, that it must be embodied, whole, full, and unflinching. The dedication to the work requires our whole selves. Because the artists gave their whole selves. Desai remarks on how many people have told her that This Work Isn’t for Us is generous. Generosity is necessary if we hope to connect and hold each other’s work, words, and experiences. Desai’s forearm, resting after so much writing at her laptop, Sachs’ camera, focused on hands, are generous gestures. They are there for us to connect to, but they are not ours to take.

Docs in Orbit / Masters Episode – Lynne Sachs – Part 1

Docs in Orbit / Masters Episode LYNNE SACHS PART 1 Transcript

Page Link:  https://www.docsinorbit.com/masters-edition-in-conversation-with-lynne-sachs

You can also listen to the interview here:
https://soundcloud.com/user-744431761/masters-edition-in-conversation-with-lynne-sachs

DOCS IN ORBIT – INTRO 
Welcome to another Masters Edition episode of Docs in Orbit, where we feature conversations with filmmakers who have made exceptional contributions to documentary film. 

In this episode, we feature part one of a two part conversation with the remarkable and highly acclaimed feminist, experimental filmmaker and poet, Lynne Sachs.  

Lynne Sachs is a Memphis-born, Brooklyn-based artist who has made over 35 films. Her work explores the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together text, collage, painting, politics and a layered sound design. 

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 her work with every new project.

Sachs’ films have been screened all over the world, including New York Film Festival, Sundance, Oberhausen, BAMCinemaFest, DocLisboa and many others. 

Her work has also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, and other venues, including retrospectives in Argentina, Cuba, and China.

She’s also received a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in the Arts and in 2019, Tender Buttons Press published Lynne’s first collection of poetry, Year by Year Poems.

Lynne Sachs is currently one of the artists in focus at Sheffield Doc Fest where her most recent feature documentary film, FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO is presented alongside a curated selection of five of her earlier films.

I caught up with Sachs recently to discuss the many aspects of her work, including feminist film theory, experimental filmmaking, and her collaborative approach. We also discuss her short film, A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES (FOR BARBRA HAMMER), which is currently available at Dokufest until August 25th.  

Christina:
I’m just so grateful to have you here today. I have to first say that I’m emerging from this journey of reviewing many of your films and your work over the past 30 years, as well as a video lecture, MY BODY YOUR BODY OUR BODIES: SOMATIC CINEMA AT HOME AND IN THE WORLD, which is a fascinating guide through your work and evolution as a filmmaker. And it’s also available online. I’ll include links to all of this on the website so that our listeners are able to easily find it.

You know, it’s kind of very difficult to figure out where to start after reviewing so much of your work, but I figured maybe it would be nice to just kind of start off with what has shaped you as a filmmaker?

Lynne:
First of all, I wanted to say that it’s very interesting to talk to someone who has taken that journey through my work, because one of the things that I think is very much an aspect of my way of making films is that they are so interconnected with my own life. 

So if you saw my film, THE HOUSE OF SCIENCE, you’d see that I write within it. I keep journals within it. And I talk a lot about the day that I left for college and I had this male gynecologist, I went to check in with him and get some birth control, but I wasn’t even sure where my cervix cervix was. 

And then you all the way to my more recent films from 20 years ago, and they were a lot about having children. And then in between that there’s films that include a lot of travel and a kind of exploration as a young filmmaker. 

And then, I have a whole group of films that I made usually in the town where I lived. So partially in Baltimore and a lot in New York. And that was maybe because I didn’t believe that documentary film had to come with a big, expensive airplane ticket. And also I had young children at a certain point. 

So there’s a kind of way that each film, whether in subject or in execution, reflects what was going on in my life, in those decades.

Christina:
There is this very personal aspect of your work as well. This link of what’s happening historically in the world around you, but then also through the lens of how it connects to something that you’re experiencing. 

And I love that you mentioned this notion of going to your gynecologist, because there is also another element of your work that is very much exploring feminism. In a lot of your previous lectures of when you were talking about or writing about what has been influential, you mentioned feminist film theories in your work, and I would love to hear from you- I know it’s a big topic – but what feminist film and feminist filmmaking means to you and why it’ s still important today.

Lynne:
I think that in the world of that it has built up around the film industry. There’s been an enormous emphasis on access to the means of production. Are women able to break into the hierarchy and even climb or be given the opportunity to access the top. 

So there’s this idea that you become a director and therefore you have accomplished what any other woman would want to do. 

But unfortunately that does not necessarily come with what maybe you or I would call a feminist sensibility. So there is this breaking of the glass ceiling on the level of job opportunities, but then once you’re there, you’re still replicating what the men have already done. 

So important filmmakers and thinkers around film who’ve really shaken me up on the level of image making and encouraged or compelled me to, to bring a feminist commitment to my work would probably start with Maya Deren

She’s probably the best known grandmother. And I say that in this very broad way. She was a grandmother to many men also. But this person who believed in the possibility for personal filmmaking to break through, to be accessible to many people and in the process to speak to her own experience, which was a woman’s experience. 

And then thinking about theory, I would say, Laura Mulvey’s article on Visual Pleasure, because I think even putting those two things together, visual pleasure –  and she was writing about narrative cinema. We look at art for pleasure. Yes, we eat food for pleasure, and we travel for pleasure, and we do many things, but art also offers that.

But if the visual pleasure is replicating the desires of a male cinematographer or director, then what she is asking us. And she did this in the early seventies. What she’s asking is, is that really progress? 

So Maya Deren, Laura Mulvey, and then I think other people writing on film, who demanded that we not only talk about women’s experiences, but be very vulnerable in our openness to talking about the body, because that’s what distinguishes us from men. 

I think a kind of hero in that respect would be Carolee Schneemann, who was a great performance artist, conceptual thinker and filmmaker.

Christina:
Yeah, so it’s not just about being able to give a woman a camera and access to making a film, but it’s about actually putting on screen, the way that a woman sees the world, the way that a woman sees her body and it not being through the lens of this male perspective

Lynne:
Yeah.. How the body is framed and how we articulate a point of view and being really thoughtful about that. And eventually, maybe there’s the, there will come a time where we don’t have to be as self-conscious, it will just happen. But I think right now we have to investigate that. 

And I think particularly in the year, 2020, we also have to look at how the articulation or the expression is also open to a kind of freedom around race too. A freedom of expression that’s not tied down to stereotypes and tied down the burden of what, what cinema has done for so long in terms of how women and women of color have been represented.

Christina:
Yeah, and I was going to ask about this because this feminist movement in cinema, as you had mentioned, has been around since the seventies. And you were exploring that when you were in college as well in the eighties, and reading about these theories and then taking your camera up to the roof and exploring the way bodies were represented in film. But how about today? What more can you say about how this is still important?

Lynne:
I think one of the people who kind of broke through our, our way of thinking would be bell hooks. She writes a great deal about those forms of representation.  I personally have been very influenced by Kara Walker’s work, and by the imagery that she boldly has presented to the world of art. 

Then there’s a few filmmakers whose work has been very influential to me. These Black women filmmakers. Cauleen Smith is a super interesting filmmaker. Her work is very much about Afro surrealism. 

I actually really liked the way Ja’Tovia Gary integrates these interview processes. She takes a kind of a convention of the reporter on the street, but she has this intimacy at the same time, which I find very empowering as a woman, you know, like let’s do it the old fashioned way with this phallic thing, the microphone, but let’s do it in this way that’s like female bonding. So I love, I really love her work.

Christina:
Yeah, I do too. It was one of the delights to discover at Hot Docs this year. I think it’s been around for a while, that short film, but I had only come to see it when it was on display at Hot Docs. 

So another thing that you’re known for … I’m trying to pull the threads of how to describe you as a filmmaker and the adjectives that are most commonly used and the word feminist always comes up, but then also experimental filmmaker.

For me, this is very visible in your work and how you play with textures in your films. I would describe your work as being very idea centric, not so much plot driven, but it’s very much that there’s a thought in the center that you’re exploring and you’re using film as a way to bring that to life. 

So can you speak a little bit about this idea of experimental filmmaking and what that means for you?

Lynne:
I really appreciate your saying that because I actually do think the kernel, the seed is a thought and there’s an expectation in documentary film that we start with a story.  And that I feel a bit resentful of because story also applies to plot also applies to the whole condition or expectations of literature as in you have a protagonist or character, and everything is revolving around that character. 

And I find that to be kind of derivative. So if you, with an idea, as you’ve suggested, then the aesthetics have to build up around that and they have to take on a more complex approach. 

So, if I have an idea or a curiosity or something I want to investigate, then I have to think about how I will hold the camera? You were talking about texture, how will I hold the camera to make that evident?

Or sometimes it goes the other way. Does the fact that the camera shook give you the sense that we have doubt? So there’s a give and take between process instead of always judging what you did. 

Like if you did something all by yourself, the production values are often let’s say disappointing on first view. 

But if the idea rises to the top, the idea says to you, well those obstacles, those production value obstacles actually lead us to something more real. Revealed something about the situation, for example, that you were shooting in a place where you felt scared. 

Those things can come through the texture, but the problem with, what I think a conventional approach to documentary is there’s always this expectation that you’re going for something that’s perfect that follows a template that is beautiful in the most obvious ways. 

But sometimes beautiful is opaque and not so beautiful adds a transparency of process that actually can be very stimulating to the viewer. 

I mean, I really believe we’re sick of looking at the perfect image.

And actually you were asking about theory, and I would say another big influence is the German theorist and filmmaker, Hito Steyerl. She definitely identifies as highly conceptual and highly committed to the documentary impulse. 

She wrote this article about the perfect image versus the degraded image. She sort of thinks it’s really interesting to look at the degraded image, the one that you find on the internet and how it moves from hand to hand, and that we become aware of its demise and we see all like all its wrinkles. Instead of thinking it has to be like fresh out of the camera and an unaffected by its life journey.

Christina:
Another aspect of your work that really drew me / collaboration is a really important element in your process. Somewhere I read that there’s a point in your career as a filmmaker where you note this shift in your approach, as you begin to consider your subject as a collaborator. Can you speak a little bit about this and how it shaped sort of where that insight kind of came from and how it shaped the work that you do now?

Lynne:
I’ve had this notion that historically in filmmaking, that actors are, have been treated like props, especially women. So if you allow those participants to become creatively involved, I actually think they feel more, there’s more gratitude.

Maybe that’s part of a kind of feminist resistance to the power that comes with being a director that’s never about listening? Like in my film TIP OF MY TOUNGE, I wanted that film to be a lot about listening – my listening to the people in the film and they’re listening to each other and not just about my directing.

Christina:
I think, for me, that’s very resonant in your work. So I want to talk a little bit about that film also, but within the context of collaboration, because I’m really intrigued by the nature of your collaborations, because there’s always a degree of it and it’s really interesting to look at, I’ll just pick three – 

Tip of My Tongue, and then Film About a Father Who, and A Month of Single Frames. So I think these three films, maybe we can just talk about these three films and the collaborative nature of them?

LYNNE:
I also thought about Which Way is East, which I made with my sister. Yeah, this could be interesting, like in a curatorial way, I hadn’t thought about it. 

In TIP OF MY TONGUE, it’s a film that started off with a collection of poems that I wrote for every year of my life, between 1961 and 2011, 2011 was the year I turned 50, but it took me about five years to write all those poems. 

And then I started to think about, well, why do I just want to know about my own experience, this sort of documentary maker in me reared its head and said, well, how would other people who lived in Iran or lived in Australia or lived in the Netherlands – how would they have seen those years from very distinct different points of view?

So I am the director of it, but a big part of it was bringing this group of people together. And I didnt say I was making a movie, I just said I’m looking for people to collaborate on a project and I’m looking for people who were born between 1958 and 64.

A couple of them were friends, but others had been recommended like, Oh, I know a woman from Iran and she lived those exact years. And, you know, so I figured, okay, when I was graduating from high school and worrying about whether I was going to go to the prom, she was dealing with a revolution. 

And we spent three days basically living together and talking to each other and I filmed it. And then I tried to, in a sense, collaborate with the city of New York, which was the only thing all of us have in common. We all lived in New York at that point, and so New York also becomes a collaborator with us as a backdrop and also as unifying aspect of our lives. 

And so, what I did was I got together with them and I did an audio interview and I asked them to pick five moments in their lives where a public event affected something very personal or transformed or allowed them to understand something very intimate in their own lives. 

So that was the prompt. That became a way by which they could think about Richard Nixon, or they could think about the first moon landing or they could think about 9-11. Some of those are more obvious than others. 

So we processed that and filtered those mate, those big events through our own lenses and experiences. 

Once I had those interviews, then I started to see intersections between the stories. And then I came back to them and acted a little bit more like Director. 

So I have all this openness, anything goes, and then when we actually shot everything was storyboarded.

I think there’s an interesting connection between something you brought up earlier, which is the idea. I think the link between the idea and the aesthetics has to do with finding formal strategies that resonate both conceptually and visually. That’s what I spend all my time thinking about it in the shower. Or dare I say it, driving my car on the subway. Or  I’ll wake up in the middle of the night. I think I need a strategy that works on both of those levels. And I’m very rigorous about that. And if it doesn’t work on both of those levels, then I kind of reject it. And sometimes that takes them years to figure it out.

Christina:
Right. And there’s different, I imagine, drafts of strategies that you’re trying and trying and trying until you finally find one that does work.

Lynne:
Yeah, sure. So that’s the process for that film. So maybe I’ll go on to A Month of Single Frames?

Christina:
Yes! Please!

Lynne:
So A Month of Single Frames is a film I made with Barbara Hammer who was a renowned lesbian, experimental filmmaker. And she always said intersectional; lesbian, experimental, and filmmaker, all all once! Woman. 

So, I have known her for about 30 years – she had been a mentor of mine back in San Francisco, which was very formulated for both of us and then we both came to New York. 

Then, just about two years ago, when she knew that she was dying, she came to four different artists and asked, would we like to work with material that she had? 

The material she gave me was uncut, 16 millimeter film that she shot in 1998 of an artist residency. 

And I said to her immediately, Barbara, why didn’t you make this? You’ve been so prolific, why didn’t make it? She said, well, it was too much about me. Which is funny because she made a lot of films about herself. But my feeling was maybe she thought the material was too beautiful. It didn’t have an edge to it. 

So I was faced with its absolute beauty. Cape Cod, and the dunes, and the sunset. The sound effects of the waves and the insects, and all that. 

And so there, I was in a sense collaborating with her work just by editing it. And that didn’t seem like enough. 

So I thought I needed to talk through the material to her and to audiences and even to a more epistemological engagement with cinema. Like, what is cinema? What is it in terms of the way it looks at time at place as it once was and now what has changed? And how does cinema allow two people to be in the same space and not in the same space?

And then I’m in the same space with Barbara, with you as viewer, with anyone who watches the film people. Total strangers. We’re all in the same space. 

So that actually came to me and I just started writing, as you’ve seen, in a lot of my films writing can find its way as voiceover or on the screen.

So the collaboration in a sense for me didn’t really happen until I was able to create my own place in it. Otherwise it was, it was more like, hagiography, and I didn’t want it to just be a portrait of a woman who had recently died. I needed to engage deeper in the deeper way. 

Christina:
You said it’s about cinema. It’s also about the making of cinema too and on that level, it resonated with me. It’s very clear from the beginning, when we hear you setting up the interviews, there’s a very reflexive mode in there. “I’m setting out to collaborate with this filmmaker and make a new creation out of her work”. 

I found it very moving, not just because the images were incredibly beautiful and the soundscape and the way that those worked so well together, but I found it really balanced in terms of the space you gave yourself in the film while you’re paying an homage to Barbara Hammer and her work during that residency.

Lynne:
One of the things that comes about when you’re making a work that uses this word, “about”.  Or we talk about the elevator pitch, like, how can you describe your film in the 20 seconds that you’re on an elevator with someone? And the word that always comes in is “about”. 

That’s the preposition, right? If the object of the preposition is only the name of someone, then I think it’s very reductive. 

But if you can say the about, can become more expanded and more reflective that about is also within, and it can be multiple prepositions, within or underneath or behind or with, like all of those things. 

Then we start to think about our engagement as being more fluid, more unpredictable, and more about point of view. 

So, if I had just said, this is a film about a woman who had cancer, or this is a film about a woman who was a lesbian experimental filmmaker, then you would enter those 14 minutes and you’d come out knowing more like in an educational experience.

Like I know more about Barbara Hammer. Or in, Film About A Father Who, I know more about this filmmaker’s father. But I didn’t want either of those films to function on that narrow a level. I wanted it to be about process and about failure. 

That’s why with A Month of Single Frames, you hear us setting up and you actually hear a place where, Barbara and I are talking about looking through her journal and she kind of gets a little irritated with me cause I don’t find the right part that she should read. 

Normally you would cut that out, because it sort of shows my failures or that I felt pressured, or I really didn’t know what I was doing. 

But if you leave it in, it becomes more human. 

That’s like the calling card of all essay films is those moments where the attempt to do one thing leads to something else and so you go one direction and then you find a kind of obstacle and you go another direction. 

There’s another part of A Month of Single Frames that you might not have noticed, but I almost took it out and it also shows failure. Barbara wanted to animate these little toys and she wanted to film them, but she was there all by herself in this remote shack in Cape Cod. 

So she’d wind up the toys and then she kind of like run back to her camera. But by the time she got your camera, these wind up toys didn’t move anymore. So you actually see her hand and so called “good animators” wouldn’t include the hand moving the toys. They would only include the success. But I actually thought what was more interesting was her attempt to do something which basically failed. 

Christina:
I do remember that. I do remember that bit, but I wasn’t, to me, it was just playful.  

Just to see somebody that is so renowned that, you know, it’s it’s, but at the same time, so devoted to the work as well and seeing how playful she is with her environment, it was just very nice to see.

Lynne:
Well, I think one of the things about that film that’s so extraordinary is that her situation while beautiful is also quite basic. 

And there’s a way that the film validates movie production on a budget. It doesn’t elevate access to funds and to locations. It just sort of says what the barest of tools you can make a movie. And I think that also is super validating and important to remember in our high tech and quite money oriented – our industry is a lot about money. 

So when you see someone who’s working in this very austere way, I think it’s quite (inaudible)

You asked earlier what makes for an experimental film. I think it’s the notion that work can be play and play can be work. That if you allow yourself to play for a while, rather than judging yourself immediately, which we all do, especially when we call it work, we call it work and we don’t think it’s good enough, then we pretty much stop. We censor ourselves and stop. 

But if we move into a realm of play, then  I think we often end up in a place of discovery. 

And Barbara was always doing that. And so she was most definitely a kind of role model for me. 

CHRISTINA:
That was it like when you first received this set of archives and  watching and hearing them for the first time? 

Lynne:
You know, I had a student about three years ago who asked me, why do I make movies? And I guess I kind of gave her an answer. And then I asked her because she was learning to make films. And she said to me, I think I make films because I want to give gifts. 

And I really loved that. I really loved that you do it because you’re sharing something or that you do have an experience that you want someone else to be able to engage with.  And might give them joy. Or might make them feel about the world in a deeper way. 

So, when Barbara gave me this imagery that she had, and she is giving me the gift of witnessing her solitude. So I felt that I needed to enter that experience of solitude and that was a gift that was from her to me. 

So I needed to find a way to give back to her and I knew that it would be posthumous. So I needed to give to her legacy, not just to her. There’s a real exchange between the two of us. 

And it’s interesting to find that I’m referring to her so much now that she’s not with us. I have this very profound belief that when we lose someone, someone who dies, that as much as we don’t want to say their names because it reminds us of them, that each time we say their name, we get  to be with them a bit longer.

I really love when I dream about someone who’s died. And so the film is a little bit like my dream of Barbara that I keep getting to have. 

Because, as you know with anyone who has died in life, you dream a lot about them, and you’re chit chatting with them and having dinner with them and all of that. When they appear in your dream, you feel wistful. And so the film was a little bit like that. 

Christina:
That’s wonderful. It’s actually a really wonderful way to close on, on the film too. 

DOCS IN ORBIT – OUTRO 

Thanks for listening. And make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss part two of the conversation where we discuss more of Lynne’s work, including her feature film, FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO. 

Also, head over to our website, www.docsinorbit.com, for our show notes that include links to films and articles referenced in this episode. 

This podcast was produced by Panda Ray Productions. 

With music by Nayeem Mahbub in Stockholm. And Produced by Christina Zachariades in Brooklyn. Special thanks to Sylvia Savadjian. 

And for more goodies follow us on twitter, instagram and facebook for all the updates.  

Docs In Orbit – Masters Edition: In Conversation with Lynne Sachs

Docs in Orbit
Masters Edition: in Conversation with Lynne Sachs
August 2020
https://www.docsinorbit.com/masters-edition-in-conversation-with-lynne-sachs?fbclid=IwAR0GFg3TSr-leoQrQhmKl9MzMaRiaE3Zxbx0b-lsyos4EzqZDI0CpaXO1IU

Welcome to another Masters Edition episode of Docs in Orbit, where we feature conversations with filmmakers who have made exceptional contributions to documentary film.  

In this episode, we feature a two part conversation with the remarkable and highly acclaimed feminist, experimental filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs

In part one of the conversation, Lynne Sachs speaks about how feminist film theory has shaped her work and her approach to experimental filmmaking. We also discuss her collaborative process in her films including, her short documentary film A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES (for Barbara Hammer), which is currently available to screen at Sheffield Doc/Fest until August 31st.


In part two, we discuss her latest feature-length documentary film, FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO, which will be having its international premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest in Autumn.


LYNNE SACHS’ WORK REFERENCED (in order mentioned)


OTHER INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS AND FILMMAKERS (in order mentioned) 

Maya Deren | Laura Mulvey | Carolee Schneemann | Kara Walker | Bell Hooks | Cauleen Smith | Ja’Tovia Gary 


FILM THEORIST AND FOUNDATIONAL ESSAYS

  • Mulvey, Laura. (1975). Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Screen, 16(3), 6-18, Link
  • Steyerl, Hito. (2009). In Defense of the Poor Image. e-flux, 10, Link

Lynne Sachs is a Memphis-born, Brooklyn-based artist who has made over 35 films. 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 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. 

Sachs films have been screened all over the world, including New York Film Festival, Sundance, Oberhausen, Viennale, BAMCinemaFest, Vancouver Film Festival, DocLisboa and many others. Her work has also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, Wexner Center for the Arts and other venues, including retrospectives in Argentina, Cuba, and China. 

She received a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in the Arts. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press published Lynne’s first collection of poetry Year by Year Poems. 

Lynne Sachs is currently one of the artists in focus at Sheffield Doc Fest where her most recent feature documentary film, A FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO is presented alongside a curated selection of five of her earlier films.

Maysles Documentary Center: A Public Dialogue, Screening & Poetry Workshop with filmmaker Lynne Sachs

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A Public Dialogue, Screening & Poetry Workshop with filmmaker Lynne Sachs

Sunday, July 21, 2019
11 AM

The cornerstone guest for the 2019 Film and Video Poetry symposium is Lynne Sachs. Sachs’ work with documentary, poetry film and the essay film is consistently avant-garde. In this workshop, Sachs will be in open dialogue regarding her film “Tip of My Tongue” (80 min. 2017), which accentuates the poetry and essay film within its structure. She will also read from her new book Year by Year Poems (Tender Buttons Press, 2019). Sachs will further guide the workshop discourse through an exploration into the hybridization of poetry film and essay film, and the meaning of these genres individually as well as combined. After screening her film, Sachs will ask participants a question as a prompt for writing a poem: How has one moment in your life been affected by a public event beyond your control?

Lynne Sachs will lead the talkback and poetry workshop immediately following the 11 AM screening of her film TIP OF MY TONGUE. We invite all to attend both events at the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem, New York.

There is no cost for admission. Light refreshments served!

Maysles Documentary Center
343 Malcolm X Boulevard | New York, NY 10027

A Public Dialogue, Screening & Poetry Workshop with filmmaker Lynne Sachs
Sunday July 21, 2019 | 11 am – 2pm

Schedule:
11 am – screening
12:30 – talk-back and poetry workshop

Tip of My Tongue (80 min. 2017)
a film by Lynne Sachs

To celebrate her 50th birthday, filmmaker Lynne Sachs gathers together other people, men and women who have lived through precisely the same years but come from places like Iran or Cuba or Australia or the Lower East Side, not Memphis, Tennessee where Sachs grew up. She invites 12 fellow New Yorkers – born across several continents in the 1960s – to spend a weekend with her making a movie. Together they discuss some of the most salient, strange, and revealing moments of their lives in a brash, self-reflexive examination of the way in which uncontrollable events outside our own domestic universe impact who we are. As director and participant, Sachs, who wrote her own series of 50 poems for every year of her life, guides her collaborators across the landscape of their memories. They move from the Vietnam War protests to the Anita Hill hearings to the Columbine Shootings to Occupy Wall Street. Using the backdrop of the horizon as it meets the water in each of NYC’s five boroughs as well as abstracted archival material, TIP OF MY TONGUE becomes an activator in the resurrection of complex, sometimes paradoxical reflections. Traditional timelines are replaced by a multi-layered, cinematic architecture that both speaks to and visualizes the nature of historical expression.

https://www.maysles.org/calendar/2019/7/21/ a-public-dialogue-screening-amp-poetry-workshop-with-filmmaker-lynne-sachs

Lynne Sachs at 2019 The Film and Video Poetry Symposium

The Film and Video Poetry Symposium 
2019 Full Schedule 
https://www.fvpsociety.com/announcements/2019/7/2019-symposium-schedule

https://www.maysles.org/calendar/2019/7/21/a-public-dialogue-screening-amp-poetry-workshop-with-filmmaker-lynne-sachs

Featured Film Screening | Tip Of My Tongue
A Film By Lynne Sachs

Image from the film Tip of My Tongue (2017) directed by. Lynne Sachs

Tip of My Tongue (80 min. 2017)
a film by Lynne Sachs

To celebrate her 50th birthday, filmmaker Lynne Sachs gathers together other people, men and women who have lived through precisely the same years but come from places like Iran or Cuba or Australia or the Lower East Side, not Memphis, Tennessee where Sachs grew up. She invites 12 fellow New Yorkers – born across several continents in the 1960s – to spend a weekend with her making a movie. Together they discuss some of the most salient, strange, and revealing moments of their lives in a brash, self-reflexive examination of the way in which uncontrollable events outside our own domestic universe impact who we are. As director and participant, Sachs, who wrote her own series of 50 poems for every year of her life, guides her collaborators across the landscape of their memories. They move from the Vietnam War protests to the Anita Hill hearings to the Columbine Shootings to Occupy Wall Street. Using the backdrop of the horizon as it meets the water in each of NYC’s five boroughs as well as abstracted archival material, TIP OF MY TONGUE becomes an activator in the resurrection of complex, sometimes paradoxical reflections. Traditional timelines are replaced by a multi-layered, cinematic architecture that both speaks to and visualizes the nature of historical expression.

Screening | Tip of My Tongue (80 minutes, 2017)
at The Maysles Documentary Center NY
Sunday July 21, 2019 | Doors open at 1045am. Film begins at 11am.

There is no cost for admission. Light refreshments served.

Maysles Documentary Center
343 Malcolm X Boulevard | New York, NY 10027

NOTE: Filmmaker Lynne Sachs will speak about her film Tip of My Tongue immediately after this screening. Please see event below.

TIP OF MY TONGUE | A Public Dialogue & Poetry Workshop with filmmaker Lynne Sachs
Sunday July 21, 2019 Talkback begins at 1230pm | Immediately following the screening of the film TIP OF MY TONGUE (Please See Event Above)

Our cornerstone guest for the 2019 symposium is Lynne Sachs. Sachs’ work with documentary, poetry film and the essay film is consistently avant-guard. In this workshop, Sachs will be in open dialogue regarding her film “Tip of My Tongue” (80 min. 2017), which accentuates the poetry and essay film within its structure.  She will also read from her new book Year by Year Poems (Tender Buttons Press, 2019). Sachs will further guide the workshop discourse through an exploration into the hybridization of poetry film and essay film, and the meaning of these genres individually as well as combined.  After screening her film, Sachs will ask participants a question as a prompt for writing a poem: How has one moment in your life been affected by a public event beyond your control? 

Lynne Sachs, graduate of Brown University receiving a BA in history, inspired by the works of Bruce Conner, who would become her mentor, and Maya Deren. She is a recipient of the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in film and video, collaborated with Chris Marker on the 2007 remake of his 1972 film “Three Cheers for the Whale”, and co-edited the 2009 Millennium Film Journal issue #51 titled “Experiments in Documentary”.  Sachs’ work has established support with fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, as well as residencies at the Experimental Television Center and The MacDowell Colony. Sachs’ films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Pacific Film Archive, the Sundance Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema.

Film Wax Interview with Lynne and Cast of Tip of My Tongue

Filmwax-Logo-2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In October 2018, Filmwax Podcaster Adam Schartoff interviewed Lynne and two participant/performers in her film “Tip of My Tongue”.  Adam himself was an integral part of the film, since he two turned 50 in the early 1960s and was ready, willing, and able to open his soul and his memories to our creative process.

You can listen here or go to the Filmwax website:

http://www.filmwaxradio.com/podcasts/episode-515/

[39 mins. 12 secs.]

To celebrate her 50th birthday, filmmaker Lynne Sachs gathered together other people, men and women, who have lived through precisely the same years but come from places like Iran or Cuba or Australia or the Lower East Side, not Memphis, Tennessee where Sachs grew up. She invites 12 fellow New Yorkers – born across several continents in the 1960s – to spend a weekend with her making a movie. Together they discuss some of the most salient, strange, and revealing moments of their lives in a brash, self-reflexive examination of the way in which uncontrollable events outside our own domestic universe impact who we are. All caught in her fabulous film “Tip of My Tongue”.

In this podcast discussion, we re-unite 4 of the 12 people from that unforgettable weekend a few summers back, including myself, Accra Shepp, Andrea Kannapell and Lynne. The film will have a screening this evening, Thursday, October 18 at 7PM at The Film-makers Cooperative in Manhattan. The film is also available on DVD and blu-ray through Cinema Guild, and for streaming on Kanopy.

TOMT_rev04_Posters_Preview_03_800x1215

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Kanapell in "Tip of My Tongue"

Andrea Kanapell in “Tip of My Tongue”

 

 

 

 

 

Accra Shepp in "Tip of My Tongue"

Accra Shepp in “Tip of My Tongue”

 

 

 

 

 

Adam Schartoff in "Tip of My Tongue"

Adam Schartoff in “Tip of My Tongue”

Interview with Oktoskop TV Vienna about TIP OF MY TONGUE

oktoskop-tv-programs-photo-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oktoskop TV’s Lukas Maurer interviewed Lynne in NYC  in conjunction with the broadcast of her film Tip of My Tongue on Austrian TV in June 2018.

https://okto.tv/de/oktothek/episode/20853

Oktoskop

Tip Of My Tongue

A 50th birthday is often an opportunity to reflect. US-American filmmaker Lynne Sachs does so in a clear and completely unsentimental manner. Therefore, her experimental birthday film Tip of my Tongue transcends the conventional “portrait of a half-century”. Shot in one location over the course of one weekend, the individual and collective memory converge in what becomes a poetic as well as eminently political film. In conversation with Lukas Maurer, Lynne Sachs explains how she planned the shoot, why it was important to her to stage it in one location, and how she gathered people from every continent. And the City, which in the film is present particularly through the soundscape, makes itself noticeable also in this interview: Oktoskop Curator Lukas Maurer visited the artist in her studio in New York.

Folge von So, 17.06.2018

Ein 50. Geburtstag ist oft Anlass um zurück zu schauen. Die US-amerikanische Filmemacherin Lynn Sachs tut das mit einem klaren, vollkommen unsentimentalen Blick. Ihr experimenteller Geburtstagsfilm Tip of my Tongue” wird dadurch weit mehr als das herkömmlich Portrait eines halben Jahrhunderts. An einem Ort und während eines Wochenendes gedreht, verschränken sich individuelle mit kollektiven Erinnerungen zu einem ebenso poetischen wie eminent politischen Film. Im Gespräch mit Lukas Maurer erzählt Lynn Sachs wie sie den Dreh Arbeit geplant hat, warum es ihr wichtig war, dass alles an einem einzigen Ort statt fand und wie sie dort Menschen von allen Kontinenten versammelte. Und die Stadt, die im Film vor allem als Sound präsent ist, macht sich auch während des Gesprächs bemerkbar: Denn Oktoskop-Kurator Lukas Maurer hat die Künstlerin in ihrem New Yorker Atelier getroffen.

Tip of My Tongue screens in The Poetic is Political at Film-Makers Cooperative

film_coop_logoWith the Midterm Election approaching, Devon Narin-Singh put together this program to explore a different way of political filmmaking. Each of the films in this program use a personal poetic expression as a jumping off point to explore larger political issues. Produce in the aftermath of Drumpf’s Election, each of these films advocate for the need for artistic expression and joyous ways of rebelling.

Featuring: Tip of My Tongue by Lynne Sachs (a beautiful celebration of life and the history tied to us), THE MOMENTS Evening Boat Ride by Ken Jacobs (a political eternalism of stunning beauty), and A Short History by Erica Sheu (a storybook tale of a divided identity).

Oct. 18, 2018

 

“On Writing the Film Essay” by Lynne Sachs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt from Review by Tanya Goldman in Cinema Journal:

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

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

 

 

 

 

Lynne Sachs – Dialogue with Willy Bearden

2018
Dialogue with Willy Bearden – Lynne Sachs
Lynne Sachs discusses her filmmaking practice with Memphis’ iconic, Willy Bearden.

Filmmaker Willy Bearden hosts this hour long program which features both conversations with and performances by some of the most renowned musicians and entertainers of this generation. His in-depth interview style and this personal setting make Dialogue with Willy Bearden one of the most must-see programs available on cable television.

Memphis Public Library

Learn more about Willy Bearden:
“Willy Bearden” in Memphis Magazine by Mary Helen Tibbs
• “Willy Bearden – Images from one of Memphis” in Memphis Magazine best-known filmmakers” by Richard J. Alley