Tag Archives: A Month of Single Frames

Provincetown Celebrates Barbara Hammer with Exhibition

Opening reception: Friday, May 27, 6-9 PM | Barbara Hammer, Brydie O’Connor and Lynne Sach’s film schedule will be posted during the exhibition in “Happenings”.
Art Market Provincetown
http://www.artmarketprovincetown.com/art/20220527/

Barbara Hammer | Selected Films, Photographs, Drawings & Collages, along with Films by Brydie O’ Connor & Lynne Sachs

Many thanks to Florrie Burke and Louky Keijsers Koning for their support and collaboration on this exhibtion of Barbara Hammer’s works.

All works are Courtesy of the Estate of Barbara Hammer and Company gallery, New York.

Barbara Hammer often said that she had three great loves- art, nature and me. Her time in the dune shack was thrilling for her and she would be gratified that her work has come full circle to land here at AMP in Provincetown. The natural beauty of the Cape has inspired so many-Hammer among them. She loved its’ winds, sand and waves. It is fitting that the waters off Provincetown are her final resting place as she swims with the whales. — Florrie Burke

Barbara Hammer (1939-2019), known for her groundbreaking films that celebrated female sexuality began filming in the 1970s, the decade she called “that glorious time of feminist ideals and lesbian bed-hopping.” It was also the time, after a yearlong trip around the world on a motor scooter, that she decided to be an artist. She enrolled in a painting course taught by abstract expressionist William Morehouse, who saw such movement in Hammer’s paintings that he encouraged her to experiment with film. It was the start of her new life: as filmmaker, single woman, and lesbian—a word she’d never heard until the age of 30.

“When I made love with a woman for the first time my entire worldview shifted,” Hammer said. “In addition to the sensual pleasures, my social network completely changed; I was swept up with the energies and dreams of a feminist revolution.” Hammer made 29 films in the 1970s, many of which reflected her exploration of sex and identity, like Multiple Orgasm, 1976 and Dream Age from 1979.

Hammer’s artistic output wasn’t limited to film only, she took her sketchbooks and photo camera everywhere she went, which resulted in intimate drawing as well as playful and performative photographs, like the BH Gestallt series, which will be on view among a selection of drawings.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the time of Reagan, AIDS, and heightened LGBT activism, Hammer’s films blended feminist politics, lesbian erotica, and social comment. No No Nooky TV (1987), one of the films on display confronts the feminist controversy around sexuality with electronic language, pixels and interface.

In the 2000s Barbara Hammer’s output slowed down, as she focused on feature films. However, in the last 13 years of her life she published an autobiography, Hammer! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life and created 7 new films as well as a digital rendering of a selection of her sketchbook drawings, titled Lesbian Whale (2015).

Hammer’s work is held in several permanent collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Australian Center for the Moving Image in Melbourne. Her complete catalogue of 16 and 8mm film, as well as Super 8, is in the collection of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive in Los Angeles, and her papers are available for review at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven.

During her lifetime she created two awards for lesbian and queer filmmakers, and had retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, the Jeu de Paume in Paris, and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York mounted a retrospective of her film, photography, drawings, and sculpture, which New York Times art critic Holland Cotter named one of the best exhibitions of that year.

(The above text is based on a text written by Andrew Durbin and Susan Champlin)

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Brydie O’ Connor | Documentary film: Love, Barbara

Love, Barbara is short (15 min.) documentary about the iconic legacy of pioneering lesbian experimental filmmaker, Barbara Hammer, through the lens and love of her partner of over 30 years, Florrie Burke.

Brydie O’Conner is a Kansas-bred, New York based filmmaker.

Her award-winning work spans the documentary and narrative fields with a focus on women-driven and queer stories. Brydie has directed short documentaries LOVE, BARBARA (2021) which premiered at Academy Award-qualifying Santa Barbara International Film Festival and FRIENDS OF DOROTHY (2020), which premiered in New York at DOC NYC. In 2021, Brydie was selected for The Future of Film is Female Award, and she received a NYSCA grant sponsored by Women Make Movies in addition to a Brooklyn Arts Council grant. In 2019-2020, she workshopped her forthcoming film in the Female Filmmakers Berlin Directing Lab. Much of her work is inspired by archival histories.

Brydie’s producing credits include THE LESBIAN BAR PROJECT with Executive Producer Lea DeLaria, WOMONTOWN for PBS Kansas City, and she has archival produced Season 7 of THE CIRCUS on Showtime in addition to various projects on Left/Right TV’s roster. She is a graduate of The George Washington University.

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Lynne Sachs | Films: A Month of Single Frames & Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor

A Month of Single Frames (Made with and for Barbara Hammer; 14 min. color sound 2019): “In the last few months of filmmaker Barbara Hammer’s life, she asked me to come to her home to discuss something she needed to say in person. I immediately faced a complicated set of emotions. I knew that this tête-à-tête would involve some kind of good-bye, but I had no idea that she had decided to share a part of her personal archive, and thus a part of her being on this earth, with me. As I sat at her side, Barbara vividly described to me her 1998 artist residency in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. For one month, she lived and made her art in a shack without running water or electricity. While there, she shot 16mm film with her Beaulieu camera, made field recordings, and kept a journal. Barbara’s only instructions to me were very simple: “Do absolutely whatever you want with this material.” While writing the text for my own film, the words I placed on the screen came to me in a dream. I quickly realized that this kind of oneiric encounter could become a posthumous continuation of the dialogue I had started with Barbara. Since I would never again be able to speak to her about her life or the ontological nature of cinema or the textures of a sand dune, I would converse with her through A Month of Single Frames. Through my writing, I tried to address Barbara’s celebration of solitude and cinematic embodiment. Ultimately, my text on the screen over Barbara’s images functions as a search for a cinematic experience that brings us all together in multiple spaces at once. It is also an embrace of an ambiguous second person you who might be Barbara herself or might be anyone watching the film.”

Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor (Super 8mm and 16mm film transferred to digital, 9 minutes, 2018): From 2015 to 2017, Lynne Sachs visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three multi-faceted artists who have embraced the moving image throughout their lives. From Carolee’s 18th Century house in the woods of Upstate New York to Barbara’s West Village studio to Gunvor’s childhood village in Sweden, Lynne shoots film with each woman in the place where she finds grounding and spark.

Lynne Sachs is an experimental filmmaker and poet living in Brooklyn. She has produced over 40 films as well as numerous live performances, installations and web projects. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press published Lynne’s first book Year by Year Poems. Working from a feminist perspective, she investigates connections between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself. She uses letters, archives, diaries, poetry and music, to take us on a critical journey through reality and memory. Over the years, Lynne has worked closely with fellow filmmakers Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Chris Marker, Carolee Schneemann, and Trinh T. Min-ha. Between 1994 and 2006, she produced five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel/ Palestine, 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. Lynne’s films have screened at MoMA, Tate Modern, Image Forum Tokyo, Wexner Center for the Arts, and festivals such as New York Film Festival, Oberhausen Int’l Short FF, Punto de Vista, Sundance, Vancouver IFF, Viennale and Doclisboa. Retrospectives of her work have been presented at the Museum of Moving Image, Sheffield Doc/Fest, BAFICI, Cork Film Festival, Havana Film Festival.


AMP is a live contemporary gallery space dedicated to exhibiting multi-disciplined work by visual, conceptual, performance artists, filmmakers and writers. Exhibitions & Happenings are primarily cutting-edge, and often process-based.

2022 features Martin R. Anderson, Shez Arvedon, Midge Battelle, Susan Bernstein, Mx Justin Vivian Bond, Terry Boutelle, Linda Leslie Brown, Bobby Busnach, Karen Cappotto, Jamie Casertano, Barbara E. Cohen, Liz Collins, Anne Corrsin, Jeanne-Marie Crede, Jay Critchley, Katrina del Mar, Phyllis Ewen, Lola Flash, Kathi Robinson Frank, Barbara Hadden, Barbara Hammer, Michelle Handelman, Heather Kapplow, Jackie Lipton, Shari Kadison, Zehra Khan, David Macke, Jade McGleughlin, Zammy Migdal, Bobby Miller, Pasquale Natale, Alice O’Malley, Pat Place, Mark Rosenthal, Marian Roth, Nancy Rubens, Jicky Schnee, Lori Swartz, Christopher Tanner, Gail Thacker, Judith Trepp, Suara Welitoff, Forrest Williams, Rick Wrigley & others.

JP Art Market, AMP’s independent sister gallery created by artist Patti Hudson has long been an integral contributor to the Boston arts community showing work by emerging and established, local and international artists such as Kristen Dodge, Leslie Hall, Lisa King, Roger Miller, and Patti Smith.

AMP Gallery, 432 Commercial Street, Provincetown MA 02657 | Mail: PO Box 807

Debbie Nadolney, Gallery Director, Curator

info@artmarketprovincetown.com | 646.298.9258

Open May – October, and always by appointment.

Lynne’s Films Currently Streaming on Criterion, DAFilms, Fandor, & Ovid

Film About a Father Who available on Criterion Channel: https://www.criterionchannel.com/film-about-a-father-who

Available on DAFilms: https://americas.dafilms.com/director/7984-lynne-sachs
Drawn and Quartered
The House of Science: a museum of false facts
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
States of UnBelonging 
Same Stream Twice
Your Day is My Night
And Then We Marched 
Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor
The Washing Society
A Month of Single Frames
Film About a Father Who


Available on Fandor: https://www.fandor.com/category-movie/297/lynne-sachs/
Still Life With Woman and Four Objects
Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning
The Washing Society
The House of Science: a museum of false facts
Investigation of a Flame

Noa, Noa
The Small Ones
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
Atalanta: 32 Years Later
States of UnBelonging 

A Biography of Lilith
The Task of the Translator
Sound of a Shadow

The Last Happy Day
Georgic for a Forgotten Planet
Wind in Our Hair
Drawn and Quartered
Your Day is My Night

Widow Work 
Tornado 
Same Stream Twice


Available on Ovid: https://www.ovid.tv/lynne-sachs
A Biography of Lillith
Investigation of a Flame
The Last Happy Day
Sermons and Sacred Pictures
Starfish Aorta Colossus
States of Unbelonging
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
Your Day is My Night
Tip of My Tongue
And Then We Marched

A Year of Notes and Numbers

“Lynne Sachs: Tender Non-Fictions” on DAFilms with interview by Cíntia Gil

DAFilms
March 2022
https://dafilms.com/program/1153-lynne-sachs-tender-nonfictions?fbclid=IwAR3Oxns5TOSTAZAfZ4T0Jsh6HRgsMNr-Xrfqw3Bc-Pv-q9lCL5UAM7N5snM

Lynne Sachs: Tender Non-Fictions

We are delighted to present a program of films by experimental documentarian Lynne Sachs, who has been prolifically creating works for cinema for four decades. Her non-fiction films, represented here in 11 works of varying lengths, powerfully evokes the curiosity and richness of a life lived through art.

Living in Brooklyn, New York, Sachs is part of a community of active experimental and documentary filmmakers and has long eschewed conventional forms of making movies. Her work, perhaps inevitably, defies easy classification. Instead, it is best understood collectively as a sprawling adventure playground, stretching across continents and blending influences across the borders of distinct art forms. Our focus maps a path through some of the ideas and forms that recur time and again in Sachs’ cinema.

The marks of war that linger in the background of a society—from Vietnam to the Middle East—are an ever-present specter in her long format films, as are the transformative effects of time on members of one’s own family. Feminism in all its forms is an animating subject and drive for Sachs, from the early formal experimentations with bodies and spaces in Drawn and Quartered to the energy of the Women’s March fragment And Then We Marched to the love, artistic kinship, and solidarity between female friends and comrades evident in Carolee, Barbara & Guvnor or, more implicitly, A Month of Single Frames.

Her latest feature length work, Film About a Father Who, whose title hints at Yvonne Rainer, provides a perfect entry-point into her style. This film is not only a torn and disrupted family album, but is also a document of the development of the evolution Sachs’ filmmaking over the years. A feature-length polyphonic portrait of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., taken over many years, it ultimately suggests that the man himself is unknowable, that his mysteries are too vast to be captured by a camera. Through reckoning with this fact, Sachs seems to suggest, the filmmaker is able to unearth other truths, about herself and about her family as a whole. A crucial early work, marking the end of a distinct period in Sachs’ work, The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts, is available to watch for free.




About DAFilms

DOC ALLIANCE – The New Deal for Feature Documentaries

Doc Alliance is the result of a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals: CPH:DOXDoclisboaMillennium Docs Against GravityDOK LeipzigFIDMarseilleJi.hlava IDFF and Visions du Réel. The aim of the Doc Alliance initiative is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and continuously promote quality creative documentary films.

Activities of DOC ALLIANCE:

• Doc Alliance Selection – Since 2008, the Doc Alliance platform presents the Doc Alliance Selection Award. The award goes to the best European documentary film selected independently by each of the platform’s festival members. The individual festivals also nominate the representatives of the jury of experts, recruited among the film critics from the festival countries. Within the Doc Alliance Selection section, each of the Doc Alliance festivals screens at least 3 films nominated for the award in the given year.


• The online portal DAFilms.com is the main project of the Doc Alliance festival network formed by 7 key European documentary film festivals. It represents an international online distribution platform for documentary and experimental films focused on European cinema. For a small fee, it offers over 1900 films accessible across the globe for streaming or legal download. The films are included in the virtual database on the basis of demanding selection criteria. The portal presents regular film programs of diverse character ranging from presentation of archive historical films through world retrospectives of leading world filmmakers to new premiere formats such as the day-and-date release. DAFilms.com invites directors, producers, distributors, and students to submit their films, thus offering them the possibility to make use of this unique distribution channel. For more information, see FILM SUBMISSION.

“A Month of Single Frames” at The National Museum of Art, Architecture & Design at Kunstnernes Hus Cinema

Wednesday 06.04.22
hr. 18:00-20:30
https://kunstnerneshus.no/en/program/cinema/barbara-hammer


Experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer is widely celebrated as a pioneer of queer cinema. In collaboration with The National Museum of Art, Architecture & Design, Kunstnernes Hus Cinema is screening a selection of Hammer’s films. The screening will be followed by a conversation with filmmaker Lynne Sachs, a close friend and collaborator of Hammer’s.

About the shorts

The program of shorts includes five films by Hammer, Dyketactics (1974), Women I Love (1976), Sync Touch (1981), Sanctus (1990) and A Horse is Not a Metaphor (2018), films which explore lesbian sexuality and identity, the female body and mortality. In addition, the program includes Lynne Sachs’ A Month of Single Frames (2018), which Sachs made from footage, drawings and texts produced by Hammer during an art residency at Cape Cod in Massachusetts, USA.

About the filmmaker

In 1973, American filmmaker Barbara Hammer (1939-2019) produced her breakthrough film Dyketactics, often considered to be the first lesbian-made film showing sex between women. Over the course of her 40-year career, Hammer produced more than 100 films and videos. With her focus on taboo subjects such as orgasm, menstruation and lesbian sex, many of her works are still considered controversial today.

Hammer’s films have previously been shown at museums such as Tate Modern and MoMA. In 2013, Kunsthall Oslo held a large retrospective of Hammer’s work.

About the event

Motstrøms is a screenings series of films at The National Museum showcasing bold, innovative and entertaining films that move between traditional cinema and art. Throughout 2022, the programme will feature pioneers of queer cinema and showcase films and video by or about artists.

The film screenings are part of The National Museum’s program for Queer Culture Year 2022 and are shown in collaboration with Kunstnernes Hus Cinema. Queer Culture Year 2022 celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Norway. 

Program

Barbara Hammer – Dyketactics (1974, 4 min)

Barbara Hammer – Women I Love (1976, 22 min)

Barbara Hammer – Sync Touch (1981, 10 min)

Barbara Hammer – Sanctus (1990, 18 min)

Barbara Hammer – A Horse is not a Metaphore (2018, 30 min)

Lynne Sachs, Barbara Hammer – A Month of Single Frames (2018, 14 min)

Hangar – Lisbon Presents “On Wildness” featuring “A Month of Single Frames”

Hangar – Lisbon Presents “On Wildness”
February 2022
https://hangar.com.pt/on-wildness/?fbclid=IwAR1oEiYl4KueDvGZuMsSHogQzpq8ldljxm0pK8KIXo7WucqZNCVgrQC0EPo


On Wildness
Screening with Barbara Hammer, Cherry Kino e Lynne Sachs
Curated by Margarida Mendes
Opening: February 9th
Sessions between Tuesday – Saturday at 6 pm

Honouring the work of Barbara Hammer as seminal to generations of artists, this session celebrates erotic freedom in communion with nature through the hands of multiple filmmakers. The examples of ‘tactile cinema’ here presented, investigate personal narratives and close up visions of the elemental pluriverse that surrounds their cameras, through an auto-ethnographic gaze that is disclosed in intimate portraits. With the playful curiousity of experimental cinematography, that has its origins in animation, light and focus games, the films gathered appeal to the spectator’s synesthesia, opening doors to humour and ecosexual desire. In a shift of perspectives characteristic of Hammer’s cinema, that is as audaciously revealing as it is disconcerting, sensorial hierarchies and worldviews are undone.


PROGRAMME
Garden of Polymitas
by Cherry Kino
2014, 10min, Super8 film on video

A Month of Single Frames
by Lynne Sachs with Barbara Hammer
2019, 14min, 16mm film on video

Women I Love
by Barbara Hammer
Courtesy of the Hammer Estate and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York
1976, 22:39 min, 16 mm film on video


CURATOR BIOGRAPHY
Margarida Mendes’ research explores the overlap between infrastructure, ecology, experimental film and sound practices – investigating environmental transformations and their impact on societal structures and cultural production. She has curated several exhibitions and was part of the curatorial team of the 11th Liverpool Biennale (2021); the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial (2018); and the 11th Gwangju Biennale (2016). She consults for Sciaena environmental NGO working on marine policy and deep-sea mining and has co-directed several educational platforms, such as escuelita, an informal school at Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo – CA2M, Madrid and the ecological research platform The World In Which We Occur/Matter in Flux. Between 2009-2015, Mendes directed The Barber Shop, a project space in Lisbon dedicated to transdisciplinary research. She is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University of London.

Sachs Films To Be Featured on Ovid.tv – February 9th, 2022

February 2022 Ovid Newsletter
https://mailchi.mp/03bec52eb11e/february-releases?e=[UNIQID]

OVID in February Includes 32 Films with 10 Exclusive Streaming Premieres

Five French cinema classics, acclaimed Asian cinema, films by Charles Burnett and Shirley Clarke, and much more!

OVID.tv is proud to announce its February slate of thirty-two (32) streaming releases, including ten (10) exclusively streaming on OVID.

OVID’s February slate celebrates Black History Month with eight classic films exploring the Black experience at home and abroad. These include the 1948 documentary STRANGE VICTORY (branded communist propaganda at the time of its release), COME BACK, AFRICA, and Charles Burnett’s memorable slice of life drama MY  BROTHER’S WEDDING.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, OVID is proud to premiere five classic French films in February. The fun begins with three films by the French filmmaker and screenwriter Marc Allégret: the swooning 1955 melodrama SCHOOL FOR LOVE (starring a young Brigitte Bardot), the 1955 D.H. Lawrence adaptation LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER, and the delightfully fluffy 1953 farce JULIETTA.

A week later, OVID offers up two seldom-seen films by Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, central figure of the French New Wave, author, actor, and co-founder of Cahiers du Cinéma: the racy 1960 film A GAME FOR SIX LOVERS (featuring music by Serge Gainsbourg) and the 1961 political thriller LA DENONCIATION (THE IMMORAL MOMENT).

Other titles in OVID’s February slate include Shirley Clarke’s Beat classic THE CONNECTION, the delightful Hong Kong genre farce VAMPIRE CLEANUP DEPARTMENT, Ilan Ziv’s eye-opening EXILE, A MYTH UNEARTHED, and five more indelible short films by OVID favorite Lynne Sachs.

Details on all films coming to OVID in February are below.


Wednesday, February 9

And Then We Marched
Directed by Lynne Sachs, Documentary Short, 2017
US
Filmmaker Lynne Sachs shoots Super 8mm film of the first Women’s March in 2017 in Washington, D.C. and intercuts this recent footage with archival material of early 20th Century Suffragists marching for the right to vote, 1960s antiwar activists and 1970s advocates for the Equal Rights Amendment.

A Biography of Lilith
Directed by Lynne Sachs, Documentary Short, 1997
US
In a lively mix of narrative, collage and memoir, A Biography of Lilith updates the creation myth by telling the story of the first woman. Lilith’s betrayal by Adam in Eden and subsequent vow of revenge is recast as a modern tale with a present-day Lilith musing on a life that has included giving up a baby for adoption and working as a bar dancer. Interweaving mystical texts from Jewish folklore with interviews, music and poetry, director Lynne Sachs reclaims this cabalistic parable to frame her own role as mother.

Tip of My Tongue
Directed by Lynne Sachs, Documentary, 2017
US
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. (Anthology Film Archives Calendar).

A Month of Single Frames (for Barbara Hammer)
Directed by Lynne Sachs, Documentary Short, 2019
US
In 1998, experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer took part in a one-month residency at a Cape Cod dune shack without running water or electricity, where she shot film, recorded sound and kept a journal. In 2018 she gave all of this material to Lynne Sachs and invited her to make a film with it.

A Year in Notes and Numbers
Directed by Lynne Sachs, Documentary Short, 2017
US
A year’s worth of to-do lists confronts the unavoidable numbers that are part and parcel of an annual visit to the doctor. The quotidian and the corporeal mingle and mix. Family commitments, errands and artistic effusions trade places with the daunting reality of sugar, cholesterol, and bone.

Feminist Queer Movie Month in Kyoto: Barbara Hammer

Kyoto Minami Kaikan Art House
Feminist Queer Movie Month
in Kyoto: Barbara Hammer
2021.12.26 ―― 12.26
https://kyoto-minamikaikan.jp/movie/14827/

DATE:

★ 12/26 ㊐ One-day limited screening!
Screening starts from 15:00

▼ Films (a total of four works / total of 58 minutes)
Bent Time
Vever (For Barbara)
So Many Ideas Impossible To Do All
A month of Single Frames (for Barbara Hammer)

[Requests and Notices] ★ Please be
sure to wear a mask inside the building.

▶ ︎Online tickets are on sale from 0:00 3 days before to 30 minutes before the screening!
* If the screening schedule is being adjusted, the above may not apply.


▮ Bent Time 

USA / 1984/22 minutes
Director / Shoot / Edit: Barbara Hammer
Music: Pauline Oliveros

A work inspired by the remarks of scientists who advocated that light rays bend at the edge of the universe and that time also bends. Along with the meditative original score of electronic musician Pauline Oliveros, the scenery of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico and the cityscape of Newyork, taken with a 9mm wide-angle lens, feels like time is distorted. Bring.

Ⓒ Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York


▮ Vever (For Barbara) 

USA / 2019 / English / Color / Digital / 12 minutes
Director / Editing / Sound: Deborah Stratman
Shooting / Voice: Barbara Hammer
Text / Local Recording: Maya Deren Figure
: Sadaji Ito Music: Catherine Bournefeld, Sadaji Ito , George Hardau
Courtesy of: Pythagoras Film

A work created by Maya Deren and Barbara Hammer starting from their respective unfinished projects. A video of Hammer traveling on a motorcycle in Guatemala in 1975 is linked to a story about the rituals in Haiti that Delen met in the 1950s and his experience of failure. Three filmmakers of different generations explore the possibility of replacing the power structure of which they are part.


▮So Many Ideas Impossible To Do All

USA / 2019 / Color / Digital / 11 minutes
Director / Edit :: Mark Street

Hammer, who was looking to create a work from the records of the correspondence between Jane Waudening (Brachage) and Barbara Hammer from 1973 to 1985, told the filmmaker Mark Street in 2018 that all the materials and “Jane”· A work produced by taking over the footage of “Brackage” (1974). Draws a complex friendship that connects Wodening and Hummer’s long distance.


▮ A Month Of Single Frames (For Barbara Hammer)

USA / 2019 / English / Color / Digital / 14 minutes
Director: Lynne Sachs, Barbara Hammer Photo: Barbara Hammer
Editing / Text (on-screen): Lynne Sachs
66th Overhausen Short Film Festival Grand Prix Winner

In 1998, Barbara Hammer kept a diary, recording various sounds and landscapes around him while staying in a seaside hut in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, where neither electricity nor water was available. This work was created as a process of confronting one’s own death, entrusting all the records created at that time to the filmmaker Lin Sachs. Along with the eyes of observing the quietly buzzing colors and sounds of nature, thoughts about loneliness and aging emerge.

“Thoughts on Making Films with Barbara Hammer ” Published in Camera Obscura

“Thoughts on Making Films with Barbara Hammer” by Lynne Sachs Published in Camera Obscura, Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies Duke University Press
Volume 36, Number 3 (108)
Dec. 2021

Link: https://read.dukeupress.edu/camera-obscura/article-abstract/36/3%20(108)/129/287803/Thoughts-on- Making-Films-with-Barbara-Hammer?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Abstract
This personal essay articulates filmmaker Lynne Sachs’s experiences working with experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer. Sachs conveys the journey of her relationship with Hammer when they were both artists living in San Francisco in the late 1980s and 1990s and then later in New York City. Sachs initially discusses her experiences making Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor (US, 2018), which includes Hammer, the conceptual and performance artist Carolee Schneemann, and the experimental filmmaker Gunvor Nelson. She then discusses her 2019 film, A Month of Single Frames, which uses material from Hammer’s 1998 artist residency in a Cape Cod shack without running water or electricity. While there, she shot film, recorded sounds, and kept a journal. In 2018, Hammer began her process of dying by revisiting her personal archive. She gave all of her images, sounds, and writing from the residency to Sachs and invited her to make a film with the material. Through her own filmmaking, Sachs explores Hammer’s experience of solitude. She places text on the screen as a way to be in dialogue with both Hammer and her audience. This essay provides context for the intentions and challenges that grew out of both of these film collaborations.


Barbara Hammer and I met in 1987 at a time when the Bay Area was affordable enough to become a mecca for alternative, underground, experimental filmmaking. She taught me the fine, solitary craft of optical printing during a weekend workshop, thus beginning a friendship that eventually followed us across the country to New York City. We were able to see each other often during the last few years of her life. Between 2015 to 2017, Barbara agreed to be part of the making of my short experimental documentary Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor (2018) a three-part film that includes Carolee Schneemann and Gunvor Nelson. I met all three women in the late 80s and early 90s in the San Francisco  experimental film community and kept in close touch with each of them, both in person and through virtual correspondences, for many years. All three were renowned artists and beloved friends, just a generation older than I, who had embraced the moving image throughout their lives. From Carolee’s 18th Century house in the woods of Upstate New York to Gunvor’s village in Sweden to Barbara’s West Village studio,  I shot film with each woman in the place where she found grounding and spark.

Barbara believed that I would see her at her best on a Tuesday, the day of the week in which she would be most energetic after her chemotherapy treatments. That afternoon, I “directed” Barbara to run along a fence as fast as she could toward the camera, without realizing that I had calibrated the f/stops on my camera to reveal the shadow from the fence across her body, creating a fabulous series of stripes in the resulting image. I returned to Barbara’s studio during another chemo period. As we stood together holding our cameras, I thought about her films Sanctus (1990) and Vital Signs (1991), which she was making when we first met in San Francisco. In Barbara’s prescient words, these films “make the invisible, visible, revealing the skeletal structure of the human body as it protects the hidden fragility of interior organ systems.” (Barbara Hammer, Electronic Arts Intermix, description of 16mm film, 1990). That afternoon in her studio, Barbara picked up one heavy 16mm camera after another.  She then proceeded to dance with her furniture, embracing that robust physicality so many of us associate with her performative work. In this, my first collaboration with Barbara, I had the chance to photograph her trademark interactions with absolutely any objects she could get her hands on. For both of us, these moments of creative intimacy became the gift we somehow expected from our open, porous artmaking practice. We both wanted more, and by 2018 Barbara had figured out the way to make it happen.

Barbara asked me to come to her home to discuss something she needed to say in person. I immediately faced a complicated set of emotions. This was around the time she gave the talk “The Art of Dying or (Palliative Art Making in the Age of Anxiety)” at the Whitney Museum. Inspired by Rainer Marie Rilke’s book Letters to a Young Poet, she ruminated on the experiences of living with advanced cancer while making art. In her performative lecture, she shared examples from her art-making practice and deeply considered, lucid thoughts on her experience of dying. I knew that this tête-à-tête would involve some kind of good-bye, but I had no idea that she had decided to share a part of her personal archive, and thus a part of her being on this earth, with me. Filmmaking, in the tradition that Barbara and I have espoused for most of our lives as experimental makers, involves a deeply focused solitary period of introspection. A complementary aspect of our practice, however, calls for playful, engaged exchanges with all of the people in the film — both in front and behind the camera. Fundamental to Barbara’s sense of herself as an artist was her commitment to deep and lasting intellectual engagement with her fellow artists in the field, particularly other women who were also trying to find an aesthetic language that could speak about the issues that meant so much to us. By asking me to work with her, alongside her but not “for” her, Barbara, a feminist filmmaker, was actually creating an entirely new vision of the artist’s legacy.

As I sat at her side in the apartment she shared with her life partner Florrie Burke, she explained to me that she had obtained funding from the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio for this endeavor. There was money and post-production support for her to invite three other filmmakers (Deborah Stratman, Mark Street, and Dan Veltri) to complete films from her archive of unfinished projects. Barbara vividly described to me her 1998 artist residency in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

For one month, she lived and made her art in a shack without running water or electricity. While in her Dune Shack, as it is still called, she shot 16mm film with her Beaulieu camera, made field recordings, and kept a journal. Barbara’s only instructions to me were very simple: “Do absolutely whatever you want with this material.”

Knowing her work as I did, it was not surprising to me that she was able to face her imminent death in this open, intimate, transparent, and sensual way. From Sanctus and Vital Signs — both of which excavated her own shock and sadness in the face of the AIDS epidemic — to Evidentiary Bodies (2018), which confronted and embraced her own cancer, Barbara developed a precise visual aesthetic that traced her own relationship to her end. Whether she was using her phenomenal optical printing and matting techniques in the studio or performing for the camera, she found an astonishingly inventive cinematic language to explore the resonances of both disease and death. It was with Evidentiary Bodies, her final work that was at the core of her Whitney talk, that she so eloquently witnessed her departure.

About that film, Barbara wrote of herself in the third person:

“The work is experienced and perceived through the performer’s body as we breathe together remembering that cancer is not a ‘battle,’ cancer is a disease. There are aberrant cells not ‘deadly foes.’ She is not ‘combative’ and ‘brave,’ she is living with cancer. She is not going to win or lose her ‘battle.’ She is not a ‘survivor,’ she is living with cancer. There is not a ‘war’ on cancer; there is concentrated research.”

Barbara always had an uncanny ability to understand herself from the inside out and from the outside in. Her films were visceral and personal. They were also exhilaratingly political. As I read through Barbara’s Dune Shack journal, I noticed that she referred to herself in the first and the third person, moving between from the I to the she.

“This morning I began the film. I didn’t shoot it. I saw it. The dark triangular shadow of the shack out the west end window of the upstairs bedroom would shrink and disappear as I sat sweating, single-framing second by second.”

“She had turned 60 today. She was almost the age her mother was when she died, regretful of not living her dreams and desires out into an old age. How resentful she would feel were she to die three years from today. Die without having had her pet dog, her country home, her long lazy days gardening and walking in the yard. Die without knowing the outcome of her partner’s work. The sadness of departure. The inevitable ending of breath and blood coursing. The complete and thorough blankness. “Is this why we make busy,” she wondered, “so that we won’t have time or space to contemplate the heart wrenching end to this expanse called life?”

While writing the text for my own film, the words I placed on the screen came to me in a dream the day I was to begin my final edit at the Wexner Center. By this time Barbara had died. I quickly realized that this kind of oneiric encounter could become a posthumous continuation of the dialogue I had started with Barbara the year before, during the making of Carolee, Barbara, and Gunvor. Since I would never again be able to speak to her about her life or the ontological nature of cinema or the textures of a sand dune, I would converse with her through A Month of Single Frames, the title I chose for my 14-minute film.

Through my writing, I tried to address Barbara’s celebration of solitude and cinematic embodiment. Ultimately, my text on the screen over Barbara’s images functions as a search for a cinematic experience that brings us all together in multiple spaces at once. It is also an embrace of an ambiguous second person you who might be Barbara herself or might be anyone watching the film.

This is how I see you.

This is how you see yourself. You are here.

I am here with you.

This place is still this place.

This place is no longer this place. It must be different.

You are alone.

I am here with you in this film. There are others here with us. We are all together.

Time less yours mine

Barbara’s imprint on my own filmmaking practice is profound. I observed in her work a conscious physical relationship to the camera. For the most part, she shot her own films and in turn found her own distinct visual language for talking about women’s lives, liberation, love, struggle, awareness, and consciousness. Discovering Barbara’s films released something in my own camerawork; my images became more self-aware, and more performative. Thinking about Barbara’s radical, improvisational and totally physical cinematography continues to push me to dive deeply and fully into my body as I am shooting.

In Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor, I brought Barbara together on screen with two other pioneers of the American avant-garde. In an email, she wrote these words to me after seeing the film for the first time: Hi Lynne, I had a chance to watch your lovely film! I was surprised at how energetically I performed for your camera. I’m honored to be grouped with such strong and remarkable filmmakers. Love, Barbara.” As aware of each other as they were of themselves, the film’s two other subjects also acknowledged her.

Carolee, who sadly died shortly before Barbara, wrote: “I loved seeing Barbara with those old Bolex cameras,” and Gunvor commented on how “Barbara moves so fast and vigorously as she walks toward the camera!”

These two films are my gifts to these women and to our shared audiences. Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor and A Month of Single Frames together attempt to reveal the great mind-body weave of Barbara Hammer’s life: her commitment to cinematic embodiment, her openness about dying, and her deeply held desire to find common space for women of all generations.

OBSERVE AND SUBVERT: Lynne Sachs interviewed by Inney Prakash for Metrograph

Interview: OBSERVE AND SUBVERT
BY INNEY PRAKASH
December 2021
https://metrograph.com/observe-and-subvert/

An interview with experimental documentary filmmaker Lynne Sachs.

Our Lynne Sachs Series plays at Metrograph December 10–12.

Several of her films are currently available to watch on the Criterion Channel

Whether portraying artists, historical figures, family members, or strangers, filmmaker Lynne Sachs has always found rivetingly indirect methods of representing her subjects. The San Francisco Weekly called her 2001 film Investigation of a Flame, about the Vietnam War and the Catonsville Nine, a group of Catholic activists who burnt draft files in protest, an “anti-documentary.” Sachs herself now uses the phrase “experimental documentary” as shorthand for describing the formal elements that constitute her particularly idiosyncratic and collage-like cinematic vernacular, notable in work like the decades-in-the-making Film About A Father Who (2020).

Rooted in her days in San Francisco’s experimental scene, Sachs’s concerns are deeply material; they regard the matter that makes up the world as inextricable from the technology that reproduces it. Her investigation of New York City laundromats, The Washing Society (2016), co-directed with playwright Lizzie Olesker, struck me as an apt departure point for our wide-ranging discussion about and around this material awareness, as well as the larger concerns that bridge the gap between her films as works of art and Sachs’s  advocacy for worldly change.


I WANT TO START WITH A WEIRD QUESTION. 

I like weird questions.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LINT?

I have been thinking about lint so much over the last few years. It started with my thinking about skin, and the epidermis, and about clothing being a second layer of our skin—which means that when we collect lint out of the dryer, we’re also catching aspects of our bodies. Sometimes it’s our own bodies, sometimes it’s the bodies of people we love. Sometimes it’s the bodies of people whose clothes are being washed in a transactional way…Iin that flow, you collect something most people think of as detritus. But I actually think of it as material, in the way that Joseph Beuys was really interested in wax and felt. So, lint is material for sculpture, and for an examination of our bodies. When that comes together, I find it very compelling.

I AM, OF COURSE, REFERRING TO A COUPLE OF SPECIFIC SHOTS FROM THE WASHING SOCIETY, WHICH EMPHASIZE SENSUOUSNESS, WHICH IS NOT A WORD I EVER WOULD’VE PREVIOUSLY USED TO DESCRIBE LINT. 

That attention to the microscopic aspects that are residue of the much larger social relationships around service, hygiene, and the exchange of money for someone who performs something for somebody else—lint represents all those things.

IT MAKES ME THINK OF THE WASHING SOCIETY AS AN EXTENSION OF YOUR CAREER-LONG PREOCCUPATION WITH MATERIAL FILM, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS SHOT DIGITALLY.

When we look at traditional 16mm film, we see scratches and hair, like we see in lint. It’s not that different. Because lint collects through the months or ages, it collects aspects of the world. Film does the same thing; it is changed by its journey in time.

My co-director, Lizzie Olesker, and I wanted to figure out ways to examine the interplay between economics, aesthetics, and politics. You look at the form of cinema and you say, “I want to create ruptures. I want to create a radicalization of the way images are represented.“ But it’s also important to look not just at the way the camera reproduces our reality, but what is produced by the reality that might be dismissed or ignored. … Lint is not invisible, but it’s about as close to invisible as it gets. It moves from clothing to the trashcan in a kind of rote way. By breaking up that [journey], we’re trying to look at the mechanisms of labor.

THE WASHING SOCIETY FEATURES ACTUAL LAUNDRY WORKERS AND ACTORS. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS ASPECT OF PERFORMANCE THAT FASCINATES YOU AS A DOCUMENTARIAN?

It occurred to me about a year ago that every single film is a document of a performance. Even a fiction film, which is a bunch of people doing this crazy thing—to reinvent themselves, pretend that they’re different from who they are—we film it, and it’s called a fiction film, but it’s actually a documentary of a group of people together.

What’s started to interest me in the last year is that woven quality that takes seriously that anyone in, for example, a documentary film is performing an aspect of who they are. As soon as they turn their head and they see the camera, they’re performing. And there’s this, you could call it a leash, or an invisible thread [that runs] between my eyes and the eyes of any human being in front of the camera. They’re always looking to the director for some kind of affirmation, like, “Yes, you’re doing a good job.“ It’s the same in documentary. If you actually recognize that this is a form of exchange, then you can try to subvert it. People who are supposed to be ‘real’ become performers, or we have performers who open up about their lives . And so, obscure that rigid differentiation. That’s why I’m not really happy with the term ‘hybrid’ yet. Because it’s saying that this ontological conundrum doesn’t really exist, and that we have to create another category that says, “That’s ambiguously real and that’s ambiguously fiction.“

IN TERMS OF REAL-LIFE SUBJECTS VERSUS HIRED PERFORMERS, HOW DID YOU APPROACH WHO WOULD EXPRESS WHAT IN THE WASHING SOCIETY? THERE ARE TIMES, ESPECIALLY EARLY ON, WHEN IT ISN’T NECESSARILY CLEAR WHO IS WHO. 

With filmmaking, there’s always two answers. There is the production answer: we tried one thing and it didn’t work, so we decided to go another way. And then there’s the more theoretical, maybe conceptual answer.

I WANT BOTH ANSWERS. I’M HUNGRY FOR ANSWERS.

Okay, the conceptual answer first. We wanted to research the experience of what it is to wash the clothes of another person. Particularly in a big city, where people and workplaces can be taken for granted. Lizzie comes out of playwriting, and this notion that you observe the world in which you live, and then you re-create characters who inhabit those experiences you’ve witnessed, or those interactions that confuse you, and that you’re trying to grapple with. And I come out of experimental filmmaking, with documentaries. So you observe and then you subvert.

She asked me if I would help her to investigate laundry workers in New York. We started, and we got really hooked, but most of the people who do this kind of service work in America are also immigrants, and many don’t have the formal paperwork to give them the freedom to be on camera, to talk about the struggles of their workplace or their bosses, who they’re supporting, all those things. So we would have very informal conversations, but we couldn’t record and we couldn’t film.

Our answer was not to give up, but to listen really actively, and then to write the characters, or to write three characters who appear in the film as composites of these conversations. So, there’s Ching Valdes-Aran, Jasmine Holloway, and Veraalba Santa. They’re all performers—the film started as a performance called Every Fold Matters, which we did live in laundromats in Brooklyn and in New York City, and at places like University Settlement, The Tank.

But then, okay, the answer to the conceptual side is that, even though I’ve been making work that you could call reality-based or documentary-based for a long time, I’m always questioning this notion of asking people to open up their lives for me. That’s why I made Film About a Father Who, because I felt like it was my turn to be in that vulnerable position.

One thing I’ve done for years now, I always pay people [who appear] in my films. That’s kind of anathema in documentary. People don’t do that. Especially journalists, which I do understand… But why shouldn’t you pay them the way you would pay an actor?

Often we measure the success of a documentary by how real it is, by the spontaneity of the reveal of information; “I can’t believe you got in that door.“ Or, “I can’t believe you got those people to say that for you with your camera on.“ There’s a lot of registers of success that have to do with the people in front of the camera letting it all hang out, and that’s an awkward exchange… I wanted to have people who felt confident in their place in the world, to speak from that position. If people didn’t feel confident, then we listened, and we tried to embrace their sentiments and struggles in a fictionalized way.

ARE THE ACTORS REPEATING TEXT THAT WAS SPOKEN BY ACTUAL LAUNDRY WORKERS OR WAS THAT TEXT WRITTEN BY YOU AND LIZZIE?

It’s both. We used parts of it, but often we wrote in a more free-form way. It’s really a composite, and there’s a freedom that comes from making a film like this. .. I call it the Maggie Nelson effect, [which is] this idea where you lay bare the research. In The Argonauts, she tells this personal story about her relationship, and she has these fantastic tangents, which are about her research, what she happened to be reading, letting all of that come in.

I can [also] say that we were influenced by Yvonne Rainer. She was such a visionary when it came to choreography, and a celebration of the body through dance. Because she looked at the quotidian, and she ‘deconstructed’— in the word of that period— how we move through the world. We took that approach to how we thought about the dance movements in The Washing Society, how we could re-examine the gestures of the everyday, and think about how they might be beautiful, in the way that Roberta Cantow’s film Clotheslines celebrates the beauty of laundry work. [Lizzie and I] wanted to think about recognising washing as a form of physical dance. Especially because there’s so much repetition, which dance also uses.

CLOTHESLINES HAPPENS TO BE PLAYING ALONGSIDE THE WASHING SOCIETY.

Clotheslines is fantastic. It’s giving attention, again, to urban life, and to things that people do that maybe they feel ashamed of doing but that they have to do. It’s interesting to look at Roberta Cantow’s film, because it’s a twist on the whole idea of being a feminist. Barbara Hammer did something similar; I think the term ‘feminist’ is evolving all the time.

What Roberta Cantow did in her work, I think, is say, “Let’s acknowledge the beauty of what mostly women do. But it doesn’t mean that they’ll become stronger women than when they don’t do it.” … I should add that today I had a conversation with Roberta Cantow. A woman she knew who organizes washerwomen in New York City told her about the screening. Anyway, she told me today that this whole group of organizers around washerwomen, 10 of them, are coming to Metrograph.

THAT’S EXTRAORDINARY.

Yeah. And I’m hoping [for] a group from the Laundry Workers Center, which is a union I’ve done a lot of work with, who organize workers in the small laundromats all over New York City…  If they’re trying to shut down a laundromat or bring attention to conditions that are really, really bad—where people are required to work 12 hours, and they can’t look at their phones, or all the different rules that are had—[Lizzie and I] make videos for them sometimes.

DO YOU CONSIDER FILMMAKING AS A FORM OF ACTIVISM, OR ADJACENT TO IT? WHERE DO THE TWO INTERSECT?

I was thinking about this last night. I went to an event at E-flux, and I was listening to Eric Baudelaire, the filmmaker, talking about this too…. I don’t think I’ve ever made a film that had the ability to make someone act differently, or to push them in a direction. But I always hope it makes them think about who they are differently, or about how the world works in another way. Maybe the result of that would be an action. But if it’s just a thought, that’s pretty good too. I guess it has to do with results, how you measure your reach… I get very excited, like with Investigation of a Flame, by people doing things with passion, and pushing themselves to extremes from which they can never turn back. I mean, that actually goes to Barbara Hammer. [She] lived life to its fullest, and with so much conviction.

BEING IN DIALOGUE WITH OTHER ARTISTS, FILMMAKERS, OTHER PEOPLE, SEEMS SO ESSENTIAL TO ALL OF YOUR WORK.

Well, when I made Which Way Is East (1994), I didn’t at first understand that it really is about how we look at history, and how we analyze or reconstruct the past. That film is made from the perspective of myself and my sister. We were children who experienced the Vietnam War through television, mostly black-and-white images on a box in the living room. Being typical American, middle-class kids, our parents and their friends had not gone to war. The war was really far away… But you then grow up and you realize that it does touch you; you heard all the numbers of people who died, and you recognize that those statistics were always emphasizing the Americans, but what about the Vietnamese? How does war have an impact?

When we made the film, in the early ’90s, my sister, Dana Sachs, was living in Vietnam. I visited for one month, and, like a typical documentary filmmaker, you arrive in a place and you say, “I’m going to make a film.“ It came to me later that the film is a dialogue with history, but it’s also a dialogue between two women from the same family, who thought about that past in extremely different ways. She looked at Vietnam in this contemporary way, as survivors. Whereas I looked at Vietnam with this wrought guilt, trying to piece together an understanding of a war that still seemed to bleed. That’s what gave the film its tension, that our perceptions were so different. Ultimately the most interesting films are the ones that ask us to think about perception, that don’t just introduce new material.

So that was a gift, to be in dialogue with my sister… Another way of looking at dialogue, [if] you’re in dialogue with [someone like] Jean Vigo, who’s not alive… then you’re creating a dialectic between the materials. In A Month of Single Frames, I’m in dialogue with Barbara Hammer literally, but I’m also in dialogue with her through the form of the film, and with the audience. That was intentional, to have this ambiguity.

In A Month of Single Frames, she also does something that’s not about activism, it’s about solitude… thinking about her place in nature. It’s all about being delicately and boldly in the landscape. When she cuts up little pieces of gel and puts them on blades of grass, she’s doing the opposite of what a feature film made in Cape Cod would… You’d have all these people stomping on the dunes, getting permission to shoot, to take over a whole house, you’d need light, electricity… She wanted to do everything with the least impact. It’s not a film that she probably announced as a celebration of the environment. But to me, it is so much about not leaving your footprint on the land, but being there. I really admire that work.

DID YOU BEGIN THE FILM BEFORE SHE DIED?

The last year of Barbara Hammer’s life, she gave footage to filmmakers and said, “Do whatever you want, and in the process use this material that I love but could not finish. Because I can see that my life will not last long enough to do so.“

She gave me footage from 1998, which she had shot in a residency on Cape Cod. I asked her why she didn’t finish this film and she said, “Because it’s too pretty, and because it’s not engaged, it’s not political.“ She felt that the fact that it delivered so much pleasure just in its loveliness made it problematic. It was this gorgeous landscape, and a woman alone in a cabin. She thought there wasn’t a rigor to it. So she had never done anything with it; it just moved around with her, and it was bothering her, of course: “Finish me. Finish me.“

She gave it to me, and I started to edit. On the second visit, I showed it to her, just without any sound. I asked if she did any writing while she was there, and she said, “I kept a journal.“ She’d forgotten all about it, so she pulled it out.

THAT’S THE DIALOGUE WE HEAR IN THE FILM?

She even writes about herself in the third person, which is fun, and different…

Everything was so pressured: she had to go to chemotherapy, she was trying to finish Evidentiary Bodies, a film that she was going to show at the Berlin Film Festival in 2019. It was one of the last things she did. So I had the material, and when she died… I needed to finish it. That’s when I wrote the text, because I needed to be in dialogue with her more than just editing the material. I needed to concentrate on that energy between us.

SO YOU COMPLETED A FILM YOU HAD BEGUN WORKING ON WHILE SHE WAS LIVING, AND THAT SHE DIED DURING THE MAKING OF. AND THEN YOU MADE A FILM IN DIALOGUE WITH SOMEONE WHO HAD ALREADY DIED, IN E•PIS•TO•LAR•Y: LETTER TO JEAN VIGO.

I’ll give you a little background. I’ve been on and off involved with the Punto de Vista Film Festival, which is a really interesting small festival in Pamplona, Spain, where they acknowledge and appreciate alternative ways of looking at documentary film practice. They asked 10 filmmakers to make a film in the form of a letter to a filmmaker who had influenced us.

I chose Jean Vigo; I love his film, Zero for Conduct (1933), because it is so much about rule breaking. It is so much about trying to exist in society, but knowing when there is a time to break the law. I had made my film Investigation of a Flame; I was interested in those moments where you have to turn inward and say, “This is wrong.“ And I wanted, again, to talk to a ghost. To talk to Jean Vigo.

Then, right at the beginning of this year, there was the attack on the US Capitol. A group of thousands chose to break the law, with absolute abandon in terms of the sacredness of other people’s bodies. I’m not even saying the US Capitol is sacred. But to go to a place of heinous destruction, that really disturbed me. I was already thinking about Jean Vigo, and I thought, “This is really complicated.” Because at what point do we learn to understand how to respect, how to have compassion, how to have empathy? That you can break rules, as in paint graffiti or burn draft files, but that once you start invading another person’s body— it’s a violation I couldn’t accept. And this space between anarchy and authoritarianism, and between compassionate rule breaking and violence was very interesting to me.

WHAT ABOUT REVOLUTION? WHAT ABOUT A FEMINIST SOCIALIST REVOLUTION?

Oh. Well I have to say, a feminist socialist revolution probably would come with a lot of compassion. I think, I hope. But I would never say that women… I don’t think that there’s anything innate.

One other thing about E•pis•to•lar•y: I really like all the syllables in epistolary, so I like that it sounds like bullets. And yet it’s about dialogue… It may be silent, but audiences are writing back in their heads. I think a lot about that in my filmmaking, all the sounds that go on in audiences’ minds.

ARE THE SUBJECTS OF INVESTIGATION OF A FLAME (2001)THE CATONSVILLE NINEYOUR MODELS THEN OF RIGHTEOUS DISSIDENTS?

My interest in people who break the rules goes way back. I mean, I was protesting the implementation of imposing draft registration on American men when I was in high school. I’ve always been committed to trying to articulate a critique. But when I heard about the Catonsville Nine and this group of people who had nothing to gain by criticizing the US government’s presence in Vietnam, except that they were so upset that they felt they had to speak out against it…

They were Catholic antiwar activists: two priests in particular, Daniel and Philip Berrigan, and a nurse, and a sister, and others. But they broke the law in the most performative way. To take draft papers and burn them [with] napalm…. Napalm is not that different from lint. It’s just soap mixed with chemicals. You can make napalm at home. It’s domestically produced napalm, which was being used in Vietnam. But [the Catonsville Nine] wanted to make it and burn it symbolically. This, to me, was the ultimate art performance piece. Let’s burn files, photograph it, disseminate it, and say that these files represent bodies.

People said that they changed so much thinking. It was effective because it was an image that… You were asking about activism, that’s an image! To see priests burning draft files, that’s going to change things. That’s real activism on their part, and that happened in the 1960s.

FROM LINT TO NAPALM. THANK YOU, LYNNE.

I never thought… But it’s made with soap!

Inney Prakash is a writer and film curator based in New York City and the founder/director of Prismatic Ground.

Lynne Sachs Series at Metrograph (NYC) – Decemeber 10 – 12th

December 10 to December 12, 2021
https://nyc.metrograph.com/series/series/291/lynne-sachs

Since bursting onto the filmmaking scene in the 1980s, Memphis-born Lynne Sachs has compiled an inimitable, astonishing body of work which includes essay films, diaristic shorts, gallery installations, and quite a number of simply uncategorizable hybrids. Sachs’s wide-ranging, restless ingenuity is on full display in this program, which includes her 2020 documentary portrait A Film About a Father WhoThe Washing Society, her collaboration with playwright Lizzie Olesker, which premiered in 2015 at a Clinton Hill laundromat; and this year’s E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo, a ruminative, surprising response to the January 6th Capitol Hill riots. A blast of engaging, and engaged, cinema.

Sachs will be present for all three programs.


A FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO
https://nyc.metrograph.com/film/film/2769/a-film-about-a-father-who
Friday, December 10th @ 7:15 PM
2020 / 74min / DCP
DIRECTOR: LYNNE SACHS

Made up of footage shot by Sachs between 1984 and very nearly the present day, Film About a Father Who represents her endeavor to better understand the outsized personality and myriad affairs of one Ira Sachs, Sr.: Park City, Utah, hospitality industry mogul; bon vivant hippie businessman; serial womanizer; and the filmmaker’s father. Analog and digital video shares space with 8 and 16mm film in Sachs’ decoupage of home movie formats, creating a tenderly critical mosaic portrait that’s as energetic, multifaceted, and messy as its subject.


WASHING SOCIETY + CLOTHESLINES +A MONTH OF SINGLE
https://nyc.metrograph.com/film/film/2782/washing-society-clothesline
Saturday, December 11th @ 3:45 PM
2018 and 1981 / 90min / DCP
DIRECTOR: LYNNE SACHS, LIZZIE OLESKER, AND ROBERTA CANTOW

Sachs’s The Washing Society, co-directed with playwright Lizzie Olesker, uses a combination of interviews, re-enactments, and patient observation to pay lyric homage to the little-acknowledged but essential labor of dealing with dirty laundry, as it occurs every day in New York City’s laundromats. Screening with Roberta Cantow’s feminist forebear Clotheslines, a film that takes laundry seriously as a form of folk art, a fraught social signifier, and a lens for women to reflect on the joys, pains, and ambivalences of household chores. With Sachs’s short “A Month of Single Frames” made with and for Barbara Hammer.

Co-Directors Lynne Sachs and Lizzie Olesker will be present with special guest feminist scholar Silvia Federici for a post-screening conversation. Hosted by Emily Apter.


Post-Screening Conversation for
WASHING SOCIETY + CLOTHESLINES +A MONTH OF SINGLE

Co-Directors Lynne Sachs and Lizzie Olesker with special guest feminist scholar Silvia Federici in a post-screening conversation. Hosted by Emily Apter.


LYNNE SACHS SHORTS
https://nyc.metrograph.com/film/film/2773/lynne-sachs-shorts
Sunday, December 12th @ 4:30 PM
1994, 2017, 2021, 2001 / 100min / DCP
DIRECTOR: LYNNE SACHS

Four shorts exemplifying the breadth and tireless curiosity of Sachs’s film practice, as well as an ongoing engagement with issues of justice and resistance. The Ho Chi Minh City–Hanoi travel diary Which Way is East: Notebooks from Vietnam offers an encounter between lived experience and mediated memory of a televised war. And Then We Marched juxtaposes 8mm footage of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington D.C. with archival images of earlier struggles for justice. E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo looks at the January 6th Capitol Hill uprising through the unlikely but revealing prism of Vigo’s 1933 Zéro de conduite. Investigation of a Flame revisits the story of the Catonsville Nine, Catholic activists who burnt draft files in protest of the Vietnam War.

Director Lynne Sachs will be present.