CODE^SHIFT welcomes filmmaker Lynne Sachs for Contractions film screening & workshop

By Nicole Cheah, Digital Journalism Undergraduate | April 18, 2024

On March 28, acclaimed filmmaker Lynne Sachs visited the CODE^SHIFT lab to host a workshop and screening of her latest film, “Contractions“. During the session, Sachs presented the 12-minute short film and engaged with participants, sharing tips for conducting oral history research and documentary filmmaking.

Sachs, who is based in Brooklyn, has had a 30-year career as an experimental filmmaker and poet. Born in Tennessee, she completed her undergraduate studies at Brown University, studying History with a focus on studio art. Sachs has produced over 40 films in addition to live performances, installations, and web projects. She has tackled a myriad of topics, often confronting social and political issues. According to Sachs’ website, her films have screened at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), Tate Modern, Image Forum Tokyo, Wexner Center for the Arts, as well as festivals worldwide.

“The workshop was so amazing! I appreciate being able to discuss the film with the director. You could tell she was passionate about health and reproductive rights for women. As an audience member, the film held my attention and left me feeling inspired and moved. Lynne was able to give her audience a glimpse into the new challenges women and healthcare professionals are facing after the overturn of Roe v. Wade. I am thankful that Dr. Srivi provided a space to discuss such an important issue.” – Minnie McMillian, PhD Student (Psychology), College of Arts & Sciences

It was Sachs’ latest residential commission that brought her to Syracuse. In 2023, she received the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Support for Artists grant, and she is in the city to create commissioned work for the Urban Video Project (UVP), a media art program which projects the work of filmmakers and video artists onto the facade of the Everson Museum of Art in downtown Syracuse. During the workshop, Sachs was joined by Anneka Herre, faculty member in Syracuse’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and UVP Program Director.

To create her ongoing project, titled “Citizen Second Class” , Sachs plans to work with local artists, reproductive care providers, and activists to explore issues of reproductive justice and bodily autonomy. She is particularly interested in doing so through the lens of Central New York’s history with womens’ rights. This project is part of a larger effort in which Sachs is involved, called “The Abortion Clinic Film Collective”, a group of artists from around the country who came together in the wake of the landmark 2022 Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v Wade.

“This is such a timely moment for a film like Contractions, which discusses the discontinuation of abortion services in Memphis. I felt privileged to see the screening with the director Lynne Sachs, along with other women concerned with the state of women’s health and reproductive rights in the country. Lynne’s film transported us to the testimonies of health workers who have experienced firsthand the effects of the overturn of Roe v Wade in such a sensitive, touching, and poetic way that makes it hard to describe. I’m still thinking about her film, and I feel incredibly moved to have been a part of the screening of her film here at Newhouse.” – Raiana de Carvalho, PhD Student (Mass Communications), Newhouse School

After the session, Lynne sat down for a video interview for CODE^SHIFT’s ongoing “Chai with Srivi” series. Speaking to undergraduate RA Nicole Cheah, Sachs detailed how she came to be the storyteller she is today, what feminist filmmaking meant to her, her ongoing project in Syracuse, and more. Once edited, the interview will be published on the CODE^SHIFT YouTube page.