Category Archives: synopsis

Sermons and Sacred Pictures


Full Film:

“Sermons and Sacred Pictures: the life and work of Reverend L.O. Taylor”
29 minutes, Color and B&W,  sound, 1989

2015 Screening at the Museum of Modern Art

An experimental documentary on Reverend L.O. Taylor, a Black Baptist minister from Memphis, Tennessee who was also an inspired filmmaker with an overwhelming interest in preserving the social and cultural fabric of his own community in the 1930′ s and ‘ 40’ s . I combine his films and music recordings with my own images of Memphis neighborhoods and religious gatherings.

Taylor  photographed and filmed businesses and schools in the black community, trips to the National Baptist Convention, baptisms, funerals, social events, and individuals in the quiet dignity of their everyday lives.  Over the years he compiled an extraordinary record of black life in the South before the Civil Rights movement captured the attention of the nation.  Sermons and Sacred Pictures combines Rev. Taylor’s black-and-white films and audio recordings with color images of contemporary Memphis neighborhoods and religious gatherings.  Commentary by his widow and others who knew him forms an intertwined narrative focusing on Rev. Taylor as a pioneering documentarian and social activist.  Taylor emerges as a man of humor, piety and intelligence, vibrantly involved in the community he loved.

Photo by Rev. L.O. Taylor

Supported by a Pioneer Fund Grant for Emerging Documentary Filmmakers and a Film Arts Foundation Development Grant.

“Sermons and Sacred Pictures has a magical quality….It brings to life the work of Rev.. Taylor through his community filmmaking efforts.  The film in turn affirms African-American identity and spirit.”  Elaine Charnov, Margaret Mead Film Festival

“Viewers will be fascinated by this half hour documentary…among the highlights of the Margaret Mead Film Festival.”  J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Screenings and Festivals include:
Museum of Modern Art, New York (1989 and 2015)
“Best Short Documentary” 1989 Athens (Ohio) Film Festival
CINE Golden Eagle
Margaret Mead Film Festival
Robert Flaherty Film Seminar
American Anthropological Association honoree, 1991
Black Cultural Expo (Memphis) honoree
National Education Film Festival Award
“Best Documentary” Sinking Creek Film Festival, Nashville
WKNO Memphis, WYBE Philadelphia

In the library collections of:  Duke,  Los Angeles Public Library, Memphis State University, Newark Public Library, Northwestern,  New York University, Reed College , Stanford and Temple

For inquiries about rentals or purchases please contact Icarus FilmsCanyon Cinema, or the Film-makers’ Cooperative. And for international bookings, please contact Kino Rebelde

The Randy Band Film (1988)

The Randy Band Film
3 min. 1988
Directed by Lynne Sachs

In the mid 1980s, I heard Memphis’s very own RANDY BAND and decided I would collaborate with their bass player Randy Chertow on a movie. Tommy Hull wrote this song “You” and I shot this Super 8 Movie to go with his great melody. In this movie, you will see band members Chertow, Tommy Hull and George Reineke. You will also see my wonderful sister Dana Sachs and great friend Kathy Steuer. I too have a small cameo you might catch. Some of the film is shot in the Fairgrounds in Memphis and some in the now long gone but dearly cherished MUSEUM OF THE UNKNOWN in Marin County, California.

Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning

“Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning”, 9 min. color 16mm. 1987.

Like an animal in one of Eadweard Muybridge’s scientific photo experiments, five undramatic moments in a man’s life are observed by a woman. A study in visual obsession and a twist on the notion of the “gaze”.

Presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s “American Century”, 2000.



For inquiries about rentals or purchases please contact Canyon Cinema or the Film-makers’ Cooperative. And for international bookings, please contact Kino Rebelde

Drawn and Quartered

“Drawn and Quartered”, 4 min. color 16mm. by Lynne Sachs
Optically printed images of a man and a woman fragmented by a film frame that is divided into four distinct sections. An experiment in form/content relationships that are peculiar to the medium, 1987

“Images of a male form (on the left) and a female form (right) exist in their own private domains, separated by a barrier. Only for a moment does the one intrude upon the pictorial space of the other.” – Albert Kilchesty, LA Filmforum

San Francisco Film Festival, Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal, Installation at Pacific Film Archive “Way Bay 2” Survey of Bay Area Art 2018; Camára Lucída Festival de Ciné 2021 , Museum of the Moving Image 2021


an essay by Lynne Sachs

My great Uncle Charlie was a prominent Memphis businessman who took a giddy pleasure in shooting some of the most elegant, compassionate photographs I’ve ever seen. I remember his close-up portrait taken in the late 1950’s of a wizened black man looking into the lens. I would sneak into the back hall of his house to look at this image, as if those large eyes revealed to me all the horrors of a segregated South that was beginning, thank god, to disappear. The face still haunts me.

None of Uncle Charlie’s children or even grandchildren took much interest in photography.  My teenage obsession with the camera thus became the reason we developed such a long-lasting relationship.  He and I would spend hours together looking at the photographs we’d both taken.  These were the first rigorous, aesthetic dialogues around image-making I’d ever had.

One afternoon in 1984,  when were sitting side-by-side in Uncle Charlie’s study pouring over some travel slides, I announced that I wanted to be a filmmaker.  I was 22 years old. Uncle Charlie’s response was immediate and silent. He got up abruptly, pulled an object from a bureau drawer, and handed me a heavy, brown camera that looked and felt like an army hand grenade. This was the first time I had ever seen a Regular 8 Filmo camera.  He carefully explained to me how a 50 foot reel fit into the casing, that I needed to shoot half the reel one way, then open the camera, flip the reel and camera and shoot the rest.  “Beware,” he warned me, “if you forget to shoot the second half with the camera right-side up the world will appear topsy-turvy. After you shoot all three minutes, send the film to a lab to have it processed and split down the middle.”

“SPLIT IT DOWN THE MIDDLE?” I thought to myself,  “How violent, how intriguing, how corporeal.” Strangely enough, I didn’t actually use the camera until three years later.  It was the fall of 1987, and I was a new graduate student at the San Francisco Art Institute.  By this time, I’d aligned myself with the film avant-garde.  Every normal way of doing anything with a camera was anathema.  My little Filmo cine hand grenade still had an aura I couldn’t resist.  It finally beckoned me to be used.  On one of those rare, warm San Francisco afternoons I convinced my new boyfriend John to follow me to the roof of the Art Institute to make the first movie I would ever shoot in Regular 8mm.  Despite having no experience whatsoever with the camera, I’d meticulously planned every shot we would make together.  Perhaps I’d been inspired by the organized fluidity of Maya Deren’s “Choreography for the Camera”.  Just as significant, I believe, were the mechanical properties of that Filmo.  What would happen if I didn’t rip apart the spinal chord of the film itself?

Once we reached the roof, I surprised John by informing him that we would both have to take off our clothes.  I then explained that I would shoot images of him for the first 1 1/2 minutes of film and that he would shoot the second half of me.  He wasn’t happy with the rules, but he accepted them for the three hours it took.   That must have been the year I first encountered Laura Mulvey’s theory of the “male gaze”, seen Carolee Schneeman’s “Fuses”, pondered Yvonne Rainer’s “Lives of Performers”.  The artistic practice of being a feminist in the late 1980’s was whirling wildly in my mind.

When I took the roll to the lab, I begged them NOT to split the film as they normally would, to leave it all in tact after the processing.  The resulting 8mm footage was simultaneously thrilling (artistically) and humiliating (personally).  There were our two nude bodies on the same screen but also divided by four equilateral frames.  I looked at John (fine…); John looked at me (yikes!).  Within the parameters of the image gestalt, we are dancing together without ever touching.  Our two bodies remain totally distinct and apart.

My immediate reaction took me directly to the editing room where I cut out all the frames of my face.  I wanted to erase myself from the film.  I held these “out takes” in my hand, breathing a sigh of relief at knowing that my nude body could never be identified.  Then I felt strangely ashamed at my own un-hip cowardice.  A few days later, I returned to the splicer and “reconstituted” my body by replacing my face, owning up to what I’d made, and, in a way, accepting my own body with all its flab and flaws.  This was years before the time of “nondestructive” (digital) editing, so if you were to look closely at the finished film print now on 16mm you would see those cuts (SCARS!!).  You would see the mark making that reveals so much about my apprehension in those days.

At that moment, the technological limitations of Uncle Charlie’s hallowed regular 8mm Filmo movie camera lead me to a know place as an artist.  Scared and anxious but also aware of a burgeoning excitement, I named my little movie “Drawn and Quartered”.  Months later, I screened the silent movie to a packed audience at San Francisco’s Red Vic Theatre on Haight Street.  Within those few painful minutes, the crowd went from absolute silence, to raucous laughter and back to an exquisite quiet.  I was shaking.


For inquiries about rentals or purchases please contact Canyon Cinema or the Film-makers’ Cooperative. And for international bookings, please contact Kino Rebelde

Still Life with Woman and Four Objects

“Still Life With Woman and Four Objects”

4 min. B&W 16mm.1986

A film portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a prose poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a “character”. By interweaving threads of history and fiction, the film is also a tribute to a real woman – Emma Goldman, 1986 .

2020 – 4k Digital Preservation by BB Optics.

Still Life with Woman and Four Objects by Lynne Sachswoman-at-table1

In certain video works that employ techniques of appropriation and repetition, one can invert and rethink the soap’s televised woman and the format’s grammar of female interiority. Opening Lynne Sachs’s black-and-white experimental diaristic short Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986), for instance, is a tight close-up of a woman putting on a fall coat. We are immediately transported into an urban home with a female occupant—an introductory premise that is outwardly ripe for soap opera. As Sachs’s camera steadily studies the creases and folds of her subject’s clothing and her strands of hair, a voiceover announces: “Scene 1: Woman steps off curb and crosses street.” Sachs repeats the same shot, while the voiceover seemingly jumps ahead in time: “Scene 2: Holding a bag of groceries, she opens the front door of Blue Plymouth.” In its third repetition, there is further narrative disjuncture. The same woman puts on her coat as the voiceover narrator reveals her limitations, casually puzzled: “Scene 3: I can’t remember.” The muted recitation of screenplay directions both embraces and negates the lack of resolution of a TV soap. We are left wondering about the events that may have transpired in the protagonist’s life in the empty gaps of voiceover between scenes. However, Sachs’s repeated, naturalistic mundanity of domestic chores defies the desirous expectation—or the incomprehensible plot turn—that one historically expects of women’s melodrama. — “The Televisual Woman’s Hour” by Aaditya Aggarwal, Canyon Cinema Discovered

For inquiries about rentals or purchases please contact Canyon Cinema or the Film-makers’ Cooperative. And for international bookings, please contact Kino Rebelde


“Fossil” by Lynne Sachs (1986)
VHS and 3/4″ Video

The village women of Mambai in Bali, Indonesia collect sand and stone from the river. Each woman sells what she has gathered for construction material. But the river is more than a place to work. It is a place to bathe, wash clothes, laugh and tell stories.

“The labor of women in Indonesia is geographically and temporally removed from the labor of workers in New York City, but how might we think across the material intersections and connections of these various people, or the ways in which we are all materially implicated in both neighborhood and global structures of hidden labor? How does cinema help (formally) represent these structures? ” (Stephen Woo, Brown University)

“Fossil” is a collaborative performance piece crated by David Bronstein, Debbie Crowell, Ed Mitchell, Lynne Sachs, and Gede Tjok. The dance evolved through discussion and movement exercises as a collective response to the images from Mambai.

This project was supported by an artist-in-residence grant from Downtown Community Television (New York, NY).

Storyboard for “Fossil”

The Tarot

The Tarot by Lynne Sachs
Super 8mm, color, silent, 3 min. 35 sec., 1983

Filmed on the Lower East Side of New York City and featuring Kathy Steuer.

Ladies Wear

“Ladies Wear” by Lynne Sachs
Super 8mm film, color, silent, 3 min., 1983.
Filmed with my brother, Ira Sachs Jr., on the New York City subway.