Tag Archives: Tip of My Tongue

Filmwax TV Reunites “Tip of My Tongue” Cast in for Sachs’ MoMI Retrospective

The cast of TIP OF MY TONGUE discusses how their lives have changed since the completion of the film in 2017. Created in conjunction with Lynne Sachs Retrospective at Museum of the Moving Image Feb. 2021. With Adam Schartoff (host), Accra Shepp, Eric Schurink, Lynne Sachs, Sue Simon, Andrea Kanapell, Shoei Dalai, Jim Supanick, and George Sanchez.


For more from Filmwax TV visit their YouTube channel!

STEPHEN VITIELLO: SOUNDTRACKS FOR LYNNE SACHS (VOLUME 2)

STREAM OR PURCHASE THE ALBUM HERE:
https://stephenvitiello.bandcamp.com/album/soundtracks-for-lynne-sachs-volume-2-your-day-is-my-night-the-washing-society-tip-of-my-tongue

EXCERPT- Stephen Vitiello – Soundtracks for Lynne Sachs (Volume 2, Your Day Is My Night, The Washing Society, Tip of My Tongue) – 01 opening (YDMN)
EXCERPT- Stephen Vitiello – Soundtracks for Lynne Sachs (Volume 2, Your Day Is My Night, The Washing Society, Tip of My Tongue) – 19 Last Minute (TOMT)
EXCERPT- Stephen Vitiello – Soundtracks for Lynne Sachs (Volume 2, Your Day Is My Night, The Washing Society, Tip of My Tongue) – 09 Every Fold (TWS)

Lynne Sachs first reached out to me in 2012, asking if I could recommend someone to work on the soundtrack for an upcoming film. I probably paused for a polite moment and then offered my own services. Since that time, I’ve created music for several projects by Lynne, including 4 feature-length films, a performance work (created in collaboration with playwright Lizzie Olesker) and a short film that uses a track I did with Molly Berg for a 12k CD. Over the years, I’ve amassed an archive of pieces made for these projects, some used in the films, some excerpted, some proposed. In some cases, Lynne would be looking for a 30-second clip for a transition and I’d use that as an excuse to record a 10-minute piece, figuring we’d find the 30-seconds somewhere in there.

This second volume of soundtracks works are from three films ….
Your Day is My Night, is set in NY’s Chinatown and follows the lives of Chinese-Americans living in shifted apartments. The Washing Society, is a collaboration between Lynne Sachs and Lizzie Olesker, it “brings us into New York City laundromats and the experiences of the people who work there.” Tip Of My Tongue, a piece on events of the last 55 years as remembered by a collection of friends and colleagues. As much as these musical tracks were created for the films, I don’t believe one has to have seen the films to enjoy them. That said, running out, or jumping on your computer, to watch and listen to the films would be a very good thing to consider.


credits

releases March 5, 2021

Stephen Vitiello – guitar, piano, modular synthesizer, field recordings
Molly Berg – clarinet and a bit of voice (YDMN)
Michael Raphael – washing machine recordings (TWS)
Amanda Katz and Jeff Sisson – Sound recordings (YDMN)

Cover art – Lynne Sachs
Mastering – Lawrence English at Negative Space

Your Day is My Night, directed by Lynne Sachs, 2013
Camera, co-producing and editing: Sean Hanley

The Washing Society, a film by Lizzie Olesker and Lynne Sachs, 2018
Editor – Amanda Katz

Tip Of My Tongue, directed by Lynne Sachs, 2017
Editor – Amanda Katz

Kino Rebelde to Represent Lynne Sachs’ Catalogue Internationally

http://www.kinorebelde.com/kino2020/lynne-sachs-retrospective/

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

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


About Kino Rebelde

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

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

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

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

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

About María Vera

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

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

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

vera@kinorebelde.com


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

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

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

Between 1994 and 2009, Lynne directed five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany – sites affected by international war – where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own perception. 

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

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

https://canyoncinema.com/2021/02/17/lynne-sachs-between-thought-and-expression-five-program-retrospective-now-available-for-rent/

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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



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

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



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

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



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




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


Thanks to:

Stephen Vitiello: Soundtracks for Lynne Sachs (Volume 1)

Stephen Vitiello, an excerpt from Bowed from “Film About a Father Who”
Stephen Vitiello, an excerpt from Something Betweene from “Film About a Father Who”

STREAM OR PURCHASE THE ALBUM HERE:
https://stephenvitiello.bandcamp.com/album/soundtracks-for-lynne-sachs-volume-1-film-about-a-father-who-tip-of-my-tongue

Lynne Sachs first reached out to me in 2012, asking if I could recommend someone to work on the soundtrack for an upcoming film. I probably paused for a polite moment and then offered my own services. Since that time, I’ve created music for several projects by Lynne, including 4 feature-length films, a performance work (created in collaboration with playwright Lizzie Olesker) and a short film that uses a track I did with Molly Berg for a 12k CD. Over the years, I’ve amassed an archive of pieces made for these projects, some used in the films, some excerpted, some proposed. In some cases, Lynne would be looking for a 30-second clip for a transition and I’d use that as an excuse to record a 10-minute piece, figuring we’d find the 30-seconds somewhere in there.

This first volume of soundtracks works are from two films – Film About A Father Who, a complex portrait of Lynne’s father and (many) siblings. And then, Tip Of My Tongue, a piece on events of the last 55 years as remembered by a collection of friends and colleagues. As much as these musical tracks were created for the films, I don’t believe one has to have seen the films to enjoy them. That said, running out, or jumping on your computer, to watch and listen to the films would be a very good thing to consider.

Film About A Father Who, directed by Lynne Sachs, 2020
Editor – Rebecca Shapass

Tip Of My Tongue, directed by Lynne Sachs, 2017
Editor – Amanda Katz 

credits

released February 5, 2021

Stephen Vitiello – guitar, modular synthesizer, piano, Rhodes keyboard, field recordings
Justin Alexander – percussion (FAFW)
Sara Bouchard – piano (FAFW)
Olivia LeClair – clarinet (TOMT)
Andy McGraw – percussion (TOMT)

Cover art – Lynne Sachs
Mastering – Lawrence English

license

all rights reserved

Lynne Sachs and Stephen Vitiello Program at the LA Film Forum

Lynne Sachs & Stephen Vitiello: Sound Engagements – Program 1: Four Films

https://www.lafilmforum.org/schedule/winter-2021/lynne-sachs-four-films-with-stephen-vitiello/

Los Angeles Filmforum presents

Lynne Sachs & Stephen Vitiello: Sound Engagements

Part 1: Four Films

Films Screening February 12-22, 2021


Live Q&A with Lynne Sachs on Friday, February 19, 7:00 pm PST (10:00 pm EST) by Zoom

Conversation with Lynne Sachs and Stephen Vitiello moderated by musician and music critic Sasha Frere-Jones on Sunday February 21, 5:00 pm PST (8:00 pm EST) by Zoom

Online via Los Angeles Filmforum

Filmforum is delighted to kick off 2021 by welcoming back our friend Lynne Sachs with her new film and several past works, all of which include original music by sound artist Stephen Vitiello.

“In collaborating on the soundtracks for my films, Stephen Vitiello somehow recognizes the interior sounds of objects and releases them for us to hear. Together his music and his sound designs push audiences toward a new way of experiencing cinema.” – Lynne Sachs

In these two programs, Los Angeles Filmforum explores the seven-year collaborative relationship between filmmaker Lynne Sachs and sound artist Stephen Vitiello.

Admission will include receiving links to both Zoom conversations!

Four films are covered by this admission, which is on a sliding scale, and which takes you to a screening room set up by Canyon Cinema. You also get a free link to the live Q&A with Lynne on Friday February 19 and the tripartite conversation on Sunday Feb 21.!

Ticketing for Four Films: Sliding Scale, $0 for members, $5 for students, $8, $12, $20

at https://lynnesachs4films.bpt.me

We hope that, if your means allow, you might go for $20, as you will be getting to see 4 wonderful films and attend two discussions!

Film About a Father Who is distributed by Cinema Guild, and has its own virtual cinema admission charge, listed on its own Filmforum webpage at https://www.lafilmforum.org/schedule/winter-2021/film-about-a-father-who/

Special Thanks to Brett Kashmere, Canyon Cinema, Tom Sveen, Cinema Guild.

Films by Lynne Sachs with music and sound design by Stephen Vitiello

2013 – 2020

Biographies:

Lynne Sachs is a filmmaker and a poet born in Memphis, Tennessee but living in Brooklyn, New York. Her work explores the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together text, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with every new project. Her work ranges from the very personal, as in her early experiments that are reminiscent of Bruce Connor’s found footage films and Chris Marker’s essay films, to documentary, as in her film on the Catonsville Nine’s antiwar-activism in Investigation of a Flame. Lynne discovered her love of filmmaking while living in San Francisco where she worked closely with film artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, George Kuchar, and Trinh T. Min-ha. Between 1994 and 2006, she produced five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany — sites affected by international war — where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions.

Sachs has made 37 films, which have screened at the New York Film Festival, Sundance, Oberhausen, Viennale, BAMCinemaFest, Vancouver Film Festival, DocLisboa and many others nationally and internationally. They have 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. The Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Festival International Nuevo Cine in Havana, China Women’s Film Festival and Sheffield Documentary Festival have all presented retrospectives of Lynne’s films. 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 lives in Brooklyn with filmmaker Mark Street. Together, they have two daughters, Maya and Noa Street-Sachs. www.lynnesachs.com


Stephen Vitiello is an electronic musician and sound artist who transforms incidental atmospheric noises into mesmerizing soundscapes that alter our perception of the surrounding environment. He has composed music for independent films, experimental video projects and art installations, collaborating with such artists as Nam June Paik, Tony Oursler and Dara Birnbaum. Solo and group exhibitions include MASS MoCA, The High Line, NYC, and the Museum of Modern Art.  https://www.stephenvitiello.com/
Solo exhibitions include All Those Vanished Engines, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2011-(ongoing)); A Bell For Every Minute, The High Line, NYC (2010-2011); More Songs About Buildings and Bells, Museum 52, New York (2011); and Stephen Vitiello, The Project, New York (2006). He has participated in such group exhibitions as Soundings: A Contemporary Score, Museum of Modern Art, NY (2013); Sound Objects: Leah Beeferman and Stephen Vitiello, Fridman Gallery, New York (2014); September 11, PS 1/MoMA, LIC, NY (2011-2012); the 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006); Yanomami: Spirit of the Forest at the Cartier Foundation, Paris; and the 2002 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002). Vitiello has performed nationally and internationally, at locations such as the Tate Modern, London; the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival; The Kitchen, New York; and the Cartier Foundation, Paris. In 2011, ABC-TV, Australia produced the documentary Stephen Vitiello: Listening With Intent. Awards include Creative Capital (2006) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2011-2012). Vitiello is a professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University. He lives and works in Richmond, Virginia.  


Sasha Frere-Jones is a writer and musician from New York.

Los Angeles Filmforum screenings are supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts & Culture, the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the Wilhelm Family Foundation, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.


The Washing Society
Directed by Lynne Sachs and Lizzie Olesker
2018, color, sound, 44 min.
When you drop off a bag of dirty laundry, who’s doing the washing and folding?  The Washing Society brings us into New York City laundromats and the experiences of the people who work there by observing these disappearing neighborhood spaces and the continual, intimate labor that happens there. The juxtaposition of narrative and documentary elements in THE WASHING SOCIETY creates a dream-like, yet hyper-real portrayal of a day in the life of a laundry worker, both past and present.

“The legacy of domestic work, the issues surrounding power, and the exchange of money for services are all potent themes which rise to the surface and bubble over in dramatic, thrilling escalations of the everyday.” – Brooklyn Rail

“Spotlights the often-invisible workers who fold the clothes, maintain the machines and know your secrets.” – In These Times

Featuring: Jasmine Holloway, Veraalba Santa, and Ching Valdes-Aran
Cinematography: Sean Hanley, Editiing: Amanda Katz

Trailer:  http://www.lynnesachs.com/2017/08/23/the-washing-society/

Drift and Bough”
2014, Super 8mm on Digital, B&W, sound, 6 min.
Sachs spends a winter morning in Central Park shooting film in the snow. Holding her Super 8mm camera, she takes note of graphic explosions of dark and light and an occasional skyscraper. The stark black lines of the trees against the whiteness create the sensation of a painterʼs chiaroscuro. Woven into this cinematic landscape, we hear sound artist Stephen Vitielloʼs delicate yet soaring musical track which seems to wind its way across the frozen ground, up the tree trunks to the sky.

Tip of My Tongue
2017, color, sound, 80 min.
“To mark her 50th birthday, filmmaker Lynne Sachs gathers a group of her contemporaries—all New Yorkers but originally hailing from all corners of the globe—for a weekend of recollection and reflection on the most life-altering personal, local, and international events of the past half-century, creating what Sachs calls ‘a collective distillation of our times.’ Interspersed with poetry and flashes of archival footage, this poignant reverie reveals how far beyond our control life is, and how far we can go despite this.” — Kathy Brew, Museum of Modern Art

“A mesmerizing ride through time, a dreamscape full of reflection, filled with inspired use of archival footage, poetry, beautiful cinematography and music. Raises the question of how deeply events affect us, while granting us enough room to crash into our own thoughts, or float on by, rejoicing in the company of our newfound friends.”  — Screen Slate, Sonya Redi

“A beautiful, poetic collage of memory, history, poetry, and lived experience, in all its joys, sorrows, fears, hopes, triumphs, and tragedies … rendered in exquisite visual terms, creating an artful collective chronicle of history.” Christopher Bourne, Screen Anarchy

Trailer:   http://www.lynnesachs.com/2017/04/25/tip-of-my-tongue/

Featuring: Dominga Alvarado, Mark Cohen, Sholeh Dalai, Andrea Kannapell, Sarah Markgraf, Shira Nayman, George Sanchez, Adam Schartoff, Erik Schurink, Accra Shepp, Sue Simon, Jim Supanick

Cinematography: Sean Hanley

Editing: Amanda Katz

Your Day is My Night
2013, HD video and live performance, color, sound, 64 min.
Immigrant residents of a “shift-bed” apartment in the heart of New York City’s Chinatown share their stories of personal and political upheaval. As the bed transforms into a stage, the film reveals the collective history of the Chinese in the United States through conversations, autobiographical monologues, and theatrical movement pieces. Shot in the kitchens, bedrooms, wedding halls, cafés, and mahjong parlors of Chinatown, this provocative hybrid documentary addresses issues of privacy, intimacy, and urban life.

“A strikingly handsome, meditative work: a mixture of reportage, dreams, memories and playacting, which immerses you in an entire world that you might unknowingly pass on the corner of Hester Street, unable to guess what’s behind the fifth-floor windows.” -The Nation

In Chinese, English & Spanish with English Subtitles.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Pks0_IRHek

Featuring: Yi Chun Cao, Linda Y.H. Chan, Chung Qing Che, Ellen Ho, Yun Xiu Huang, Sheut Hing Lee, Kam Yin Tsui, & Veraalba Santa.

Camera by Sean Hanley and Ethan Mass

Winner, Best Feature Documentary, San Diego Asian Film Festival, 2013 * Winner, Best Feature Film, Workers Unite! Film Festival, 2013 * Winner, Best Experimental Film, Traverse City Film Festival, 2013

“Lynne Sachs: Between Thought and Expression” and why you cannot miss her MoMI retrospective

E. Nina Rothe
January 12, 2021
https://www.eninarothe.com/faces/2021/1/6/lynne-sachs-between-thought-and-expression-and-why-you-cannot-miss-her-momi-retrospective

In-depth interviews and casual chats with the personalities and influencers of today, yesterday and tomorrow.

A still from the short ‘Maya at 24’ by Lynne Sachs

“Lynne Sachs: Between Thought and Expression” and why you cannot miss her MoMI retrospective

All the great filmmakers have been artists of the lens. If you think about Hitchcock, Truffaut, Wilder, Kazan, Visconti, Fellini and endless more that make up our collective cinematic heritage, they constructed their work like one long sequence of aesthetics — sight and sound. 

Lynne Sachs is no exception. While effortlessly flowing between documentary, experimental and narrative styles, Sachs’ films — whether 4 minutes long or full length — reward the adventurous viewer with a sense of beauty, elegance and joie de vivre. And I say “adventurous viewer” because it may have been difficult for non-urban audiences to catch the prolific artist’s work.

Until now that is. While in the past someone like me had to rely on the cool publicist devoted to Sachs and her films to point me in the direction of her next screening at a festival or inside a hip city venue, this January the Museum of the Moving Image has organized a wonderfully comprehensive retrospective of Lynne Sachs’ cinematic work. Beginning on January 13th and streaming online this proves a rare treat, since Sachs’ films are perfect for the kind of intimate viewing we are relegated to these days. Watch one, switch it off, talk about it with your family or friends, share your views online with the larger social media community — Sachs is the filmmaker of the times and how appropriate for her retrospective take place now!

Lynne Sachs, dir. of Film About a Father Who

Lynne Sachs photographed by Abby Lord, used with permission

So what makes Sachs’ work so unique? When I met her in person, right before our current pandemic and at the screening of her latest film at MoMA in NYC, she struck me as a rare combination of kind, unconventional and courageous. And her clothes betrayed the kind of effortless elegance that makes her films so appealing. Her voice, so often the soundtrack of her work, feels familiar even the first time you hear it, like that of a best friend who calls just to see how you’re doing. And in doing so makes the world a better place.

To me, Sachs is an artist, a visual explorer of the beauty that is hidden in cinema, for only a few to figure out. But I wonder how she views herself, as an artist or a filmmaker, or even a poet? She answers via email from NYC, kind as ever. “When you add the word “hidden” to the word “beauty”, I really start to get interested. Lately I have been thinking about certain images that, like our bodies, are growing old with the dignity of their own life span, their provenance. These are the kinds of images that reveal their journey and don’t pretend to have appeared on this earth, or more precisely on our screens, in the year 2021.” She continues, “artist and cultural theorist Hito Steyerl writes eloquently and perceptively in her essay “In Defense of the Poor Image” about the way that images from the past move into our present by carrying the baggage of time. I like seeing the dirt, rust, and wrinkles that tell a story in a purely visual way. When I see images that insist on carrying slivers of their past –- be it joyous or traumatic –- I see beauty.” 

The retrospective includes some of Sachs’ earlier work, shorts and mid-length films about her children, the world around her, art, poetry, feminism — her own brand of the stuff — and science. It’s divided into five programs — Early Investigations, Family Travels, Time Passes, Your Day Is My Night and Tip of My Tongue — plus a special online screening of her latest feature ‘Film About a Father Who’ which is a personal favorite and a must-watch for anyone wanting to learn more about Sachs and her fascinating family. You can find my personal review of it here. 

There is a Michael Apted feel to her work which often revolves around family, or rather those who are important in Sachs’ life, shot over a long period of time. I’m thinking of the shorts which star her daughter Maya at around 6, in her teenage years and then again at 24. What a treat they are but also a wonderful way to examine the constantly changing pattern of our lives. So I ask Sachs how she’s seen the pandemic change things, as related to her work-in-progress with Maya and she surprises me.Now this is an intriguing way of asking me about the pandemic, through a film about my daughter Maya that I have essentially shot three times over the course of twenty years. When she was six I made ‘Photograph of Wind’, at sixteen I made ‘Same Stream Twice’ and at twenty-four I made ‘Maya at 24’. What I think you are getting at is an epistemological question about the meaning of time.” Yes, she gets me, she really gets me! She continues, “in this period of sheltering-in-place or at least quasi-isolation, many of us are wondering how to register our days. Is there going to be an end? Or are we caught in a constant, traumatizing, unending middle? We are all aging at the same rate; we register each day in the same way. In these three films (each between 3 and 4 minutes), I asked Maya to run in circles around me while I was filming her with my 16mm camera. We both stare at each other the entire time. Dizzying as it may be, we are together exploring our relationship through our eyes. Without touching, we are as intimate as a parent and child can be. During the pandemic, as I communicate with my own mother from hundreds of miles away using the virtual technology available to us, I must remember that this form of contact might not be great, but it is good enough.”

A still from ‘House of Science’ by Lynne Sachs

Elements of her feminist spirit, but not the extremist kind we see these days rather a more inclusive approach, also permeate Sachs’ work. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a woman filmmaker explore our bodies, our minds and our sexuality on screen. And what a wonderful surprise to find out that Edo Choi curated for the Museum of the Moving Image this comprehensive retrospective of Sachs’ work. As both a lover of film and a film writer, Choi makes the perfect conductor for our journey in the midst of the filmmaker’s opus. So as a final question I asked Sachs how it feels to have a retrospective of her work at MoMI, especially now. 

“Scary, vulnerable and exciting,” Sachs admits, mentioning Choi right away. “Today, I was working with the Museum of the Moving Image’s marvelous, insightful, and dedicated assistant curator Edo Choi on some technical aspects of the program. You see when you are dealing with film files that were created over thirty years, they might not be compatible, on a technological, thematic or conceptual level with other films that you recently completed. I mentioned earlier what we all know –- time runs in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years. It does not change. But technology does, at least in the world of video. So, some of my files run at 29.97 frames per second, some at 23.98 fps and some at 24 fps. It all depends on when the films were born! This makes it very hard to stream them together.” What does that mean to a filmmaker? She explains, “maybe this is telling me something about myself, what was on my mind back in 1986 may be very different from what I am thinking about in 2021. To my surprise, I do see themes that connect me to who I was at 25 and who I am today at 59. When people watch the films, I hope they can find some of these threads that carry through all of the work. I am not going to say here what I see, because I am very interested in finding out what viewers discover on their own.”

To watch Lynne Sachs’ work check out the Museum of the Moving Image website. The retrospective runs from January 13th to the 31st, 2021. 

“Everything That Surrounds Us Becomes Part of Us” – Screening, Reading & Workshop at SF Public Library

Author: Lynne Sachs, Poetry Readings Film Screening and Writing Workshop 
“Everything That Surrounds Us Becomes Part of Us”
Thursday 1/21/ 2021 6- 9PM PST – Zoom 
https://sfpl.org/events/2021/01/21/author-lynne-sachs-poetry-reading-film-screening-writing-workshop

Workshop featuring special guest, artist Ann Hamilton

On Thursday night I will read from my recent poetry book Year by Year Poems (Tender Buttons Press) and screen film. I have invited artist ANN HAMILTON to join us to speak about her 1996 SF library installation where she asked local community people to annotate the catalogue cards which “embody the heart of the public library art collection – the text that is folded between the covers of the books and buried within the library stacks.” This is one of the most interesting and resonate examples of socially engaged art that I have ever seen. Very excited to talk with Ann and with the audience.This is also a workshop so all participants will be encouraged to write and interact. Yes, it’s virtual. Sign up and you will receive a Zoom invite.

Thanks to poetry librarian and arts enthusiast John Smalley, librarians Jaime Wong and Anissa Malady


Acclaimed poet and filmmaker Lynne Sachs reads from her recent book Year by Year Poems, a collection of 50 poems which began as a half-century marker in the author’s life. Sachs will also screen her film, Tip of My Tongue, which was based on these same poems. At the end of the screening, participants will be encouraged to write one poem in response to a chosen year in their own life.

Lynne Sachs is a filmmaker and poet who explores the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. Sachs has made thirty-five films which have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art and more. In early 2020, her newest movie, Film About a Father Who, will premiere on opening night at the Slamdance Film Festival and in NYC at the Museum of Modern Art.’

About the Film “In Tip of My Tongue, eleven New Yorkers, including Sachs herself, born in the early 1960s ‘visit’ every year of their lives in a brash, self-reflexive experiment to create a film on what it’s meant to live in America over the last half century. Through poetry and flashes of archival footage, the past is ‘unearthed, turned over and reconsidered in new and astonishing ways.'” (Museum of Modern Art)

About the Book Year by Year Poems feature graceful, diaristic poems, successfully distilling events and themes in the poet’s life and simultaneously, magically, reflect larger movements of history and culture. Intimate and imagistic, the poems unfold a series of miniature stories with sensuous rhythms, telling visual detail and gentle humor.

“Lynne Sachs: Between Thought and Expression” – Museum of the Moving Image to host Sachs Retrospective

Museum of the Moving Image 

http://www.movingimage.us/programs/2021/01/13/detail/lynne-sachs-between-thought-and-expression/

ONLINE RETROSPECTIVE
Lynne Sachs: Between Thought and Expression

January 13–31, 2021

For more than thirty years, artist Lynne Sachs has constructed short, bold mid-length, and feature films incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, and observational documentary. Her highly self-reflexive films have variously explored the relations between the body, camera, and the materiality of film itself; histories of personal, social, and political trauma; marginalized communities and their labor; and her own family life, slipping seamlessly between modes, from documentary essays to diaristic shorts. On the occasion of her latest feature, Film About a Father Who, a kaleidoscopic portrait of the artist’s maddeningly mercurial father, the Museum is pleased to present a career-ranging survey of Sachs’s work, including new HD presentations of Drawn and QuarteredThe House of Science: a museum of false facts, and Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam, as well as the premiere of Maya at 24, the third edition of Sach’s temporal portrait of her daughter.

Organized by Assistant Curator of Film Edo Choi.
Special thanks to Canyon Cinema and Cinema Guild for their support in organizing this program.

All films will be presented in MoMI’s Virtual Cinema, including a new video interview between Lynne Sachs and Edo Choi, which will be available exclusively to ticket holders.

Tickets: An all-series pass (including Film About a Father Who) is available for $30 ($26 MoMI members). A pass for just the repertory portion is $20 ($16 members) / individual program tickets are $5. Tickets for Film About a Father Who are $12 ($10 members).

All films are directed by Lynne Sachs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.