Tag Archives: Carolee Barbara and Gunvor

AM Costa Rica Announces CRIFF Kick-Off with Lynne Sachs Retrospective

Costa Rica International Film Festival kicks off this week
AM Costa Rica
Published on Wednesday, June 8, 2022
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

– The retrospective category has been dedicated to the American filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs –

Displaying independent films from 37 countries and in 15 different languages, the tenth edition of the Costa Rica International Film Festival begins on Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Culture, the festival will take place in two parts. First from June 9 to 18 and then from June 29 to Aug. 26.

The categories of the festival include retrospective films, panorama, young people and pioneers of cinema, among others.

The retrospective category has been dedicated to the American filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs, who has made 37 films, some of which have won awards or have been included in retrospectives at major festivals.

Sachs’s 2019 film, “A Month of Single Frames,” made with and for Barbara Hammer, won the Grand Prize at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen in 2020.

In 2021, both the Edison Film Festival and the Prismatic Ground Film Festival at the Maysles Documentary Center awarded Sachs for her body of work in the experimental and documentary fields.

Last year the Festival displayed “Film About a Father Who” (2020), directed by Sachs, which is defined as “a poignant and moving film,” by Fernando Chaves-Espinach, director of the festival. “(Sachs) mixes fiction, documentary, experimental film, performance among others,” he said.

“Sachs demonstrates the energy of contemporary cinema and the multiple forms that this art takes, from an intimate and reflective perspective that dialogues with certain forms of filmmaking in our context,” Chaves said.

The festival will be held in several movie theaters in San José, as well as in different communities of the country in rural areas so that more people can enjoy the event, the ministry said.

In San José, the films will be shown at Cine Magaly, the Film Center of the Ministry of Culture and the French Alliance of the France Embassy in Costa Rica.

In rural areas, the festival will be presented at the CCM movie theaters, located in San Ramón and San Carlos in Alajuela Province, in Jacó Beach in Puntarenas Province.

Also, CitiCinemas movie theaters in rural areas will present the festival in Grecia in Alajuela Province, Limón City in Limón Province and Paso Canoas in Puntarenas Province.

In addition, the festival will be presented at Multiplexes in Liberia, Guanacaste Province.

The jury is made up of directors, producers and people of the film industry from Costa Rica and other places such as Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, Colombia, the Basque Country, Germany and Hungary.

The festival will award three mail films for their formal quality and content. In addition, the winning films will receive about $11,000 in prizes in the categories such as Best National Short; Best Costa Rican Feature Film, Best Central American and Caribbean Feature Film, among others.

People interested in participating in the festival can buy tickets, priced between $3 and $4, on the Festival weband Magaly Theater web.

Provincetown Magazine – “Barbara Hammer: Through the Lens of Lynne Sachs”

Barbara Hammer: Through the Lens of Lynne Sachs
Provincetown Magazine
June 8, 2022
by Rebecca M. Alvin

When filmmaker Barbara Hammer died from complications of ovarian cancer in 2019, the film world lost one of the most innovative filmmakers of its avant garde. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Hammer had created an outstanding body of work, ranging from scores of experimental shorts, including Multiple Orgasms (1976), which was chosen to be preserved by the National Film Preservation Foundation with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation, to the extraordinary Nitrate Kisses, a documentary about the hidden lives and legacies of lesbians that went on to win numerous accolades and is considered a landmark masterpiece of queer cinema, a first of its kind. Her work is at once provocative, playful, sensual, and formally inventive.

Although 10 years younger than Hammer, experimental documentary filmmaker Lynne Sachs hit her professional stride in the same circles with her in San Francisco in the 1980s, and the two developed a unique friendship that spanned several decades. Sachs, herself an innovator in creative nonfiction filmmaking, took a workshop taught by Hammer about optical printing, a process for creating special effects through specialized processing and techniques in celluloid film. Likewise, Hammer studied sound recording with Sachs. Both conceptually and practically, they were working in an alternative film universe compared with the mainstream, male-dominated one. Each of them operated like a one-woman band: filming, recording sound, editing, performing, directing, etc. each on her own, making deeply personal films that addressed larger societal issues from individual perspectives.

In that environment at that particular time, Sachs says, “The word documentary was not assumed to be a sort of template for an educational film or a diatribe on a political thesis, but it was a place to explore the subjectivity of reality. And that’s what drew us into working with issues that matter to us. Whether we were looking into issues around race or age, at the time we were doing it from our subjective place. We were both making films that refracted and played with the reality we were observing.”

As each woman’s career in cinema expanded, they maintained a creative connection, with talk of collaboration going back many years. But as Hammer was preparing to die, having lived with ovarian cancer for several years, she asked four filmmakers to complete films she had in the works. One of those filmmakers was Sachs, whom Hammer asked to complete a film from footage, sound, and journal entries created here in Provincetown while staying in one of the famed dune shacks in 1998. Sachs agreed and the resulting 14-minute film, A Month of Single Frames (2019), will be shown at AMP Gallery as part of a month-long celebration of Hammer’s life, work, and legacy, along with Sachs’ 2018 documentary about Hammer and two other filmmakers (Carolee Schneeman and Gunvor Nelson) called Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor, and one by Brydie O’Connor called Love, Barbara.

A Month of Single Frames is an extraordinarily beautiful meditation that combines sound and image from the 1998 dune shack stay with present-day recordings of Hammer reading from her journal and poetic on-screen text Sachs wrote. The process is transparent, with Sachs and Hammer discussing what to record as they record it, bringing us back to that idea of documentary as a construction and not mere “reality.” Closeups of a dragonfly, beach grass swaying in the breeze, stop-motion animation with snail shells are enveloped in the sounds of nighttime insect choirs, waves, and creaky floorboards. Hammer’s sense of wonder, what she describes as being “overwhelmed by the simplicity” comes through bright and clear through colored gel flag shadows in the sand with her narration describing the cinematic experimentation that continued throughout her life. Sachs weaves these elements together to create a portrait of an incredible film artist who, like many before her, found inspiration here in the ecology of the dunes.

While Hammer’s body of work is centered on female sexuality quite specifically, and Sachs often weaves in elements of her family history, (sometimes focusing entirely on it, such as in the film Film About a Father Who… about the complexity of her father and his problematic relationships), the two filmmakers share a feminist approach and an interest in film as language; they worked with its formal qualities, experimenting with techniques and devices unique to cinema, and they both imbue their films with the personal and specific, often in a documentary context. In an age where documentaries have become extremely popular but also extremely narrow in their formal conventions, there is often a misunderstanding of just how diverse documentary as a form is. Both fiction and documentary films convey truth, opinion, and fabrication by virtue of being creative works, and there is a long history of hybridity that distinguishes documentary from journalism. This doesn’t only include experimental artists like Sachs and Hammer, but also more mainstream documentarians like Werner Herzog and Agnes Varda whose works never attempt to hide the personal lens through which the subject matter is seen.

“It’s a vessel for thinking about how reality works and doesn’t work sometimes… It’s separate from journalists. We actually not only deal with reality, we also ask how that can become a truth, or it becomes a subjective hypothesis. It always comes with a subjectivity that’s, I think, really important—that who sees the reality is as important as what is seen. And so when we say, ‘through the lens,’ it’s, you know, through the lens of a woman or through the lens of a gay person or a Black person, and it shapes your experience of that reality,” explains Sachs.

But also, she says the process is about discovery as you go. “To engage with reality is also the possibility for play and a kind of dance with what you observe and how you then share it with your audience. I think Barbara taught us that. She loved to play with her materials. That was like her touch, and that’s where she found surprises and found out more about herself. I think in documentary you also have a chance for introspection which to me is really important.”

Barbara Hammer’s films, drawings, and other works are on view at AMP Gallery, 432 Commercial St., Provincetown, along with the films by Lynne Sachs and Brydie O’Connor through June 22. For more information call 646.298.9258 or visit artmarketprovincetown.com.

This Week’s Films at AMP Gallery
Films by Barbara Hammer

June 9 Place Mattes: 1987, 7:36 min, color, sound, 16 mm film on video.

June 11 Contribution to Light: 1968, 3:42 min, color, silent, Super 8mm film on HD video.

June 12 Multiple Orgasm: 1976, 5:32 min, color, silent, 16 mm film on HD video.

June 13 Dream Age: 1979, 10:58 min, color, sound, 16 mm film on HD video.

June 14 Pond and Waterfall: 1982, 15 min., color, silent, 16 mm film on video.

Film by Brydie O’Connor

June 8 & June 15 – 16  Love, Barbara (documentary; 15 min.)

Films by Lynne Sachs

June 10 & June 17 – 18  A Month of Single Frames (Made with and for Barbara Hammer; 14 min. color sound 2019)

NOTE: Films continue through late June. Visit artmarketprovincetown.com/happenings for a complete schedule.

Delfino: “Costa Rica International Film Festival pays tribute to filmmaker Lynne Sachs”

Costa Rica International Film Festival pays tribute to filmmaker Lynne Sachs
June 1, 2022
By Valeria Navas Castillo


The American filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs will be the dedicatee of the tenth edition of the Costa Rica International Film Festival (CRFIC10), which will take place from June 9 to 18.

Sachs will visit the country during the festival, as he will be honored in the Retrospective section with a sample of 14 films of his authorship , characterized by a poetic, intimate, experimental and reflective tone with very personal themes.

The Sachs retrospective is made up of the films  Epistolary: Letter to Jean Vigo  (2021),   Maya at 24  (2021);  Film About a Father Who  (2020) ,  Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor  (2018),  Tip of my Tongue  (2017),  Same Stream Twice  (2012),  With the Wind in Her Hair  (2010),  Frame by Frame  (2009),  Photograph of The Wind  (2001),  The House of Silence: A Museum of False Facts  (1991),  Drawn and Quartered  (1987),  Following the Object to It’s Logical Beginning  (1987), and  Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986).

According to the artistic director of the festival, Fernando Chaves Espinach , “We are interested in Lynne Sachs’s visit because with her films, made with few resources, she tells us about a very particular form of expression that seems relevant to our context. We are proud to present different ways of making cinema and, above all, to share it in a workshop with filmmakers and visual artists who can learn from his methodology and his approaches to cinematographic art”.

In addition to the presentation of his works, the festival has scheduled that Sachs give a face-to-face tutorial to a group of people linked to Costa Rican cinematography.

The main venue for the 10CRFIC will be the Cine Magaly and it will have three more screening rooms in the capital of San José and five outside the Greater Metropolitan Area: San Ramón, San Carlos, Jacó, Grecia, Limón and Paso Canoas.


Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine rinde homenaje a la cineasta Lynne Sachs

La cineasta y poeta estadounidense Lynne Sachs será la dedicada de la décima edición del Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine (CRFIC10), que se llevará a cabo del 9 al 18 de junio.

Sachs visitará el país durante el festival, pues se le rendirá homenaje en la sección Retrospectiva con una muestra de 14 películas de su autoría, caracterizadas por un tono poético, intimista, experimental y reflexivo con temáticas muy personales.

La retrospectiva a Sachs está constituida por los filmes Epistolary: Letter to Jean Vigo (2021),  Maya at 24 (2021);  Film About a Father Who (2020)Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor (2018), Tip of my Tongue (2017), Same Stream Twice (2012), Con el viento en el pelo (2010), Cuadro por cuadro (2009), Photograph of The Wind (2001), The House of Silence: A Museum of False Facts (1991), Drawn and Quartered (1987), Following the Object to It’s Logical Beginning (1987) y Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986).

De acuerdo con el director artístico del festival, Fernando Chaves Espinach,“Nos interesa la visita de Lynne Sachs porque con su cine, hecho con pocos recursos, nos habla de una forma de expresión muy particular que nos parece relevante para nuestro contexto. Nos enorgullece presentar distintas maneras de hacer cine y, sobre todo, compartirlo en un taller con cineastas y artistas visuales que pueden aprender de su metodología y sus acercamientos al arte cinematográfico”.

Además de la presentación de sus obras, el festival ha programado que Sachs imparta una tutoría presencial a un grupo de personas vinculadas con la cinematografía costarricense.

La sede principal del 10CRFIC será el Cine Magaly y contará con tres salas de proyección más en la capital de San José y cinco fuera de la Gran Área Metropolitana: San Ramón, San Carlos, Jacó, Grecia, Limón y Paso Canoas.

Costa Rica International Film Festival Hosts Lynne Sachs Retrospective

June 2022



  • The tenth edition of the CRFIC is celebrated from June 9 to 18, in its first stage, and from June 29 to August 26, in a second itinerant stage, in communities outside the GAM.
  • The public will be able to enjoy 87 films in competition and screening, from 37 countries and in 15 different languages.
  • 69% of the films in programming are directed or co-directed by women.
  • With the presence in the country of the American filmmaker Lynne Sachs, the CRFIC10 pays tribute to her career.


The CRFIC Retrospective section is dedicated to the renowned American filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs (1961), who has 37 films to her credit, including short films and feature films, some of which have won awards or have been included in retrospectives at major festivals. .

Regarding the Retrospective, the artistic director of CRFIC10, Fernando Chaves, mentioned that last year the Festival showed Film About a Father Who , a poignant and moving film.

“In this tenth edition of the CRFIC we have the honor of having its director, Lynne Sachs, as a guest of our retrospective,”  continued Chaves, “whom we are excited to present for her mixture of fiction, documentary, experimental cinema, performance and other media. ” 

According to Chaves, with this solid filmography, Sachs demonstrates the energy of contemporary cinema and the multiple forms that this art takes, from an intimate and reflective perspective that dialogues with certain ways of making cinema in our context. 

To close with a flourish, Sachs will hold a workshop where he will experiment with national artists.

Program includes:
• Film About a Father Who
• Con viento en el pelo
• Tip of My Tongue
• A Month of Single Frames
• Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor
• Epistolary: Letter to Jean Vigo
• Drawn & Quartered
• Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning
• Maya at 24
• Same Stream Twice
• Photograph of Wind
• Still Life with Woman and Four Objects
• House of Science: a museum of false facts
• Cuadro por cuadro



San José, Costa Rica, May 20, 2022- With a program of outstanding independent films from 37 countries and in 15 different languages, the tenth edition of the Costa Rica International Film Festival (CRFIC10) is held from May 9 to June 18, in a first stage, and from June 29 to August 26 in a second itinerant stage.

The CRFIC10 will be held in person in downtown San José, as well as in different communities in the country outside the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), with the aim of reaching larger audiences that can enjoy the alternative audiovisual experience proposed by the festival program of the Costa Rican Center for Film Production (Cinema Center). 

The artistic director of the 10CRFIC, Fernando Chaves Espinach, stated that “the Festival brings us the opportunity to confront ourselves with the most challenging, innovative and inspiring cinema that is being made today, with different languages and approaches, from very different countries. We have chosen winning films at renowned festivals such as Sundance, San Sebastián and Locarno, films nominated for Oscars and winners at other competitions, but we have also rescued titles that otherwise would not reach our theaters, true discoveries that show us the effervescence of contemporary cinema and its ability to shake us” .

The venues of the Festival will be located in the Magaly Cinema (the Main Hall and La Salita), the Gómez Miralles Hall of the Cinema Center, the French Alliance (in Barrio Amón) and the CCM San Ramón, CCM San Carlos, CCM Jacó rooms. , CitiCinemas Grecia, CitiCinemas Limón, Paso Canoas and Multiplexes Liberia.

In the itinerant stage, it will take place in the communities of Matambuguito, Shiroles, Boruca, Térraba, Sarapiquí and Grano de Oro.


The 10CRFIC program is made up of a careful selection of 87 international, regional and national films directed and co-directed, 69% by women, with varied content for audiences of all ages.

“We are proud to present a diverse programming in gender and geographical origin, which shows that cinema has never been monolithic in its language or in its origin; this programming allows us to articulate a defense of cinema as a diverse, complex art whose permanence as a vehicle of artistic expression requires spaces for debate and enjoyment such as festivals” , commented Chaves.

For the inauguration of the 10CRFIC, the curatorial team chose the feature film Utama (2022), by Bolivian director Alejandro Loayza Grisi. 

The feature film is a co-production between Bolivia, Uruguay and France and is set in the arid Bolivian highlands, where an elderly Quechua couple have lived the same daily life for years.

In the middle of a drought, Virginio (80 years old) gets sick and aware of his imminent death, he lives his last days hiding the illness from Sisa (81 years old).

Loayza Grisi (1985) began her career in still photography and later entered the world of cinema through film photography. 

As director of photography, he worked on the documentary series Planeta Bolivia, and on multiple short films such as Aicha, Dochera and Polvo. 

Attracted by the stories that can be told through moving images, he ventured into writing and directing his first feature film titled Utama. 

The competitive categories of the programming for this tenth edition are the following: Central American and Caribbean Feature Film Competition, with films from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and the Dominican Republic; and the National Short Film Competition, with eleven Costa Rican productions.

The 10CRFIC will award a statuette to three films that stand out for their formal quality and content, as well as 8 million colones (approximately US$11K at the exchange rate) in total in incentives and support to the filmmakers selected as winners of the Competitive categories: a 1 million colones prize for Best National Short Film, a 3 million colones prize for Best Costa Rican Feature Film, and a 3 million colones prize for Best Central American and Caribbean Feature Film, as well as two 500,000 colones prizes for special mention Jury Mention in Feature Films and Jury Mention in Short Films, respectively. 

The other sections of the program are: Panorama, Radar, Approach, Last batch, Young people, Memory, Pioneers of cinema and Retrospective.

The jury for the Central American and Caribbean Feature Film Competition is made up of Peter Taylor (Northern Ireland), programmer and curator, and currently director of the Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival; Christina Newland (United Kingdom), journalist for Vice, Sight & Sound, BBC, Mubi and Empire, on topics such as cinema, pop culture and boxing; and Pablo Hernández Hernández, (Costa Rica), professor at the University of Costa Rica with a doctorate in Philosophy from the Universität Potsdam and specialist in Aesthetics, philosophy of art and culture.

The jury of the National Short Film Competition is Alexandra Latishev (Costa Rica), a filmmaker who graduated from the New Film and Television School of the Véritas University; Juan Soto (Colombia), editor, director and archivist, who currently works at the Filmoteca de Catalunya as Film Preservation Project Manager; and Vanesa Fernández (Basque Country), director of the Zinebi Festival and coordinator of the Degree in Audiovisual Communication at the University of the Basque Country / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (UPV/EHU). 

For their part, the CRFIC Industry juries are Gudula Meinzolt (Germany), with training and experience in cultural management and cinema in areas such as research, promotion, organization of festivals, distribution, exhibition and co-production; Karolina Hernández (Costa Rica), founder and general producer of Dos Sentidos SA and coordinator of the Audiovisual Production area of the Office of Communication and Marketing of the Tecnológico de Costa Rica and professor at the University of Costa Rica; and Zsuzsi Bankuti (Hungary), who since 2020 directs the Cutting Edge Talent Camp, since 2022 is the interim director of Open Doors, and also works as an international strategy consultant for the Doha Film Institute, the Torino Film Lab and Cinemart. 

PRESSKIT: bit.ly/CRFIC10presskit 
ITENERARY:  bit.ly/CRFIC10grid
FULL SCHEDULE:  bit.ly/CRFIC10films

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

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)


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.


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 
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

March 2022

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.

Cintía Gil: Hello everyone. Hi Lynne, how are you?

Lynne Sachs: I’m Good. 

Cintía Gil: Welcome to the DA Films. I’m really happy to be here with Lynne Sachs, whose work I absolutely love. And thank you. Yeah, so this is a conversation coming from the program put together at the films platform called Tender Non-Fictions, with 11 films from different moments in your life as a filmmaker, and your life too, because it’s kind of together. And I thought about doing your conversation, not so much film by film, but traveling a little bit through the films and through also your thoughts about film making, and film, and how filmmaking connects, is a way of building spaces or building places for connection between different dimensions of our lives. 

Cintía Gil: And I wanted to start by an image that very much touched me, from States of UnBelonging. The beginning, the very beginning of the film, when we are in your living room, and you are reading, so you are calling your correspondents in Israel and you are reading the newspaper. So you are folding the newspaper with the news about the killing of a woman and her two children, and you are folding this newspaper, and then you just juxtapose this image of folding a map, so folding a newspaper and folding a map, and that’s juxtaposition touched me very much, because somehow, for me, it resonated with a lot of your filmmaking practice. And you say, “On my map.” And then you start talking about this territory where your film will unfold, and it spoke to me about your films because you somehow are juxtaposing geography and history and language with all the metaphorical questions that are iterations of a map, territory, and lands, and place, and culture, and everything else. 

Cintía Gil: And so, I realized that image, for me at least, it kind of speaks of a shiY that your films do, which is going from ideas like territory into ideas of place, body, and memory and time, so going away from norms and conventions about where people exist and actually coming to something more radically difficult to systematize, which is what is a place? How do we build place? How do we see body? What do we feel? And where does memory… How does memory unfold? And how time is a space for that. 

Cintía Gil: And I saw this in this film, where you are talking about Israel and Palestine and your relation to it, but also in Which Way is East, for example, the relation between Vietnam and USA history, and your and your sister’s connection, the space of a laundromat in The Washing Society, in the story, the beautiful story of the bra in House of Science, where you are talking about your first experience with the bra, and suddenly your body becomes

Lynne Sachs: territory 

Cintía Gil: Territory, exactly. 

Lynne Sachs: You’re the first person to make that connection. 

Cintía Gil: Yeah, because, for me, it was so striking, this… So yeah, I just wanted to launch the [inaudible 00:04:20]. 

Lynne Sachs: Thank you for being so observant. Actually, I think I’ll start with the name of the program at DA Films, Tender Non-Fictions, because the curator programmer, Christopher Smalls, said… Small, he’s suggested that title right off, and I was very excited by it, because Tender Buttons is the name of a book that Gertrude Stein had written, and I love her work and I love her radical disruptions of language, but then I actually mentioned it to my brother, and he said, “Well, tender, is that a problem? Does it make it look like you’re soft on these issues?” And so, I just listened to him and I thought, “Maybe that’s the wrong direction, maybe I need to have more edge, maybe… I want to make it clear that I’m trying to break all the paradigms around form and documentary and working with reality.” But it just kept sticking in my head and I kept thinking about it. 

And then, of course, the war in Ukraine started, and Christopher and I continued our dialogue, and I started to think about, well, maybe tender is actually a good place to start, is a place of awe, because you’re tender with things you’re not trying to destroy them, you’re aware of them and it’s tactile. So then that leads me to that question that, or the observation that you made about that image in the beginning of States of UnBelonging, which is an interesting place that you started, because States of UnBelonging looks at Israel/Palestine, and it tries to come at it through the kind of a quasi-portrait of a filmmaker who was also a peace activist, who lived… Her name was Revital Ohayon, and she lived in a kibbutz, very near the West Bank, and was trying to work with families and schools and her children, with other Palestinian children, and unfortunately she was killed in a terrorist act, but she certainly had tried. 

And the thing is that the war there is so… You were talking about place, the war there is about, not just place, but the substance of dirt, of the earth, of this thing, this idea that you could claim earth from… Just because your ancestors claimed it. And we know that the world is constantly changing and you can’t own something just because your great, great, great, great grandparents did, and that doesn’t give you a claim to it, and that’s some of what’s going on in Russia and Ukraine. 

And so, it’s very charged to look at place in that way, as if place is a static thing, so you brought up this two different, call it tropes, the trope of land, and then the trope as designated by a map, like a map as a signifier for land, but another signifier is also the map of communication, which is a letter, and another signifier wrapped up in there, because I’m speaking through a letter, it’s epistolary in that way, but another conceit is the idea of the newspaper, which is a way to venture into another place but not to have that, not to be present in it, so I think that was really interesting. 

But you also compared it to a film, I would never have thought of comparing, so it’s just like… I’m so enthralled by your perceptive approach to filmmaking, and that was that, in 1991, I made a film called The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts, and at that point, I was trying to connect with being a young girl, and the very first time that you wear a bra, and the feeling that you have isn’t like, “Hey, great, I’ve got breasts.” I felt like, “How dare you, world, tell me that I have to entrap these things, that I have to tame them, or that I have to claim them.” Lynne Sachs: And actually, what happened was, I was in the gymnasium at my middle school and I was wearing a super tight shirt. I was at an all girls school, it wasn’t like I was trying to show off my breast to the boys, but some of the girls said that… The girls told me I needed to wear a bra, and I was like, “Oh.” So then it turned my body into territory, and it wasn’t from my mother, and it wasn’t. And from the teachers, it was from the other girls, then they didn’t like it that I didn’t wear a bra. 

Cintía Gil: And you, in that film, you also talk about this, sometimes conflict between the body of the body and the body of the mind, and this struggle to live together and to, again, to build some sort of place or possibility of existence where both can come together. 

Lynne Sachs: And I think this is actually fairly common for a lot of girls, and maybe boys, but I can’t make a claim to it, before we want to be sexual beings, we want to be invisible. We don’t want… It’s not just that we transition without thinking, we actually like not being objectified, and then when we become objectified and we become territory, whether it’s from other girls or boys or men, then we become hyper aware of our bodies. So hyper… And then later in my life, much later, I did become more comfortable with my body, and I think probably not till I was in my early thirties and I had children, and it was the first time that I didn’t feel all caught up in the parameters that had been offered. 

Cintía Gil: Established. 

Lynne Sachs: Yeah. 

Cintía Gil: Which you talked about, this idea that the world’s changes and things are not fixed or static. And when I see your films, one thing that I find quite beautiful, is the way you seem to be quite interested in movement and fluidity, and in transition in your images production, even in the way you edit and the way you use your camera and the movements of the camera. 

I was very much trying to see… So for example, just an example, it happens oYen, all the time, but for example, in States of UnBelonging, when you’re talking to Revital’s mother, and your camera goes and kind of follows their hands, or in the Which Way is Easts also, in A Month of Single Frames, you have this absolute interest for fluidity and movement and transitions, and I wanted to hear you a little bit about that, about this, because the impression that it gives me is that it’s a very intelligent way of giving space for invisibility, for what is invisible, which in your cinema, happens a lot, because you oYen have immigrants, children, women, filmmakers, who are not on the spotlight. So you are very oYen talking from spaces that are traditionally of invisibility, and I feel that there’s an absolute coherence or connection between that and the way you film, the way you produce your images, and I wanted a little bit to hear you about this, about movement. 

Lynne Sachs: Again, Cintía, just very, very interesting correlations between what we sometimes call socioeconomic issues and issues around artistic form, aesthetics, and I think that is the most interesting challenge that we have when we’re working with reality, but with reality doesn’t just mean about reality, so the reality of the making. 

I think that film can document how they are made. In a way, the how gives you the opportunity to think about who’s making it and who’s supporting it, and who’s curious to find out more about the issue. So for example, you said something about the fluidity of my camera, and traditionally, we’d say that you don’t want to see a camera shake, that’s a sign of being an amateur, and if you’re an amateur, you didn’t bring a tripod, you’re not working with a professional cinematographer. 

But I actually think that a shaking camera is a breathing camera. If we could just whip out, erase that word “shake”, which is not bad, because it has a tentativeness, and talk about the breadth of the maker, then we know that it’s an embodied camera and that the camera is alive and thinking. 

You were talking about a shot in States of UnBelonging, where I’m interviewing a woman whose daughter had been murdered, so I felt very vulnerable myself, as a mother, as another woman, I felt sympathetic. So my camera isn’t just frozen, the camera is reflecting my insecurities and pain, let’s call it empathy. 

So I didn’t, maybe, know that I was doing that at the time, but there is a kind of transparency that I think is fine. I was making a film called Investigation of a Flame, which is about civil disobedience. It’s a film really about anti-war activists, and I was interviewing one of these very wonderful, heroic anti-war activists, and as he’s talking and offering a parable to me, I let the camera look out the window, just over there, and people have asked me about it. And I said, “Sometimes when you’re listening to… You, meaning the person behind the camera or a person in a conversation, sometimes the most intense form of concentration is to allow your eyes to wander. And that’s what taking the camera, literally, off the tripod, or letting the camera be an extension of the body, is actually considered a very atypical thing. People think that keeping your horizon line horizontal is a sign of confidence, but why do we always have to show confidence? 

As you and I know, that one of the hallmarks of the essay film is doubt, so if you can have the form register that in a nonverbal way, and in an articulated way, then I think that’s super interesting, and I do try to play with that. I have a conceit you’ve probably seen in a lot of my films, where I let another person walk in circles around me, and I think that’s… I’ve done it a lot, I’ve done it with my mother, my daughter, my father. It’s something I love to do because it makes me get dizzy, not just because you see the world passing by, but I lose my stability, and that’s a form of exploration of what it is to be lost in the process, and then you find yourself, hopefully. 

Cintía Gil: You were mentioning the film that is in the program, Same Stream Twice, which is with your daughter, Maya, running around you, and actually, when I was thinking about this, I was thinking about… I had noted a quote from the synopsis, where you talk about something you can’t grasp, but can feel, and how this camera of yours brings the possibility of that. And now you were talking about doubts in image making, in filmmaking, and the political aspect of it, I thought that maybe tenderness comes from that, and I also thought about, again, in House of Science, when you say in the end, incendiary, but not arson, so that’s possibility- … but not burning everything all at once. It’s maybe the tenderness question that’s is absolutely embodied in your images. 

But going again to how you assemble films together, another thing that I find really unique, is the way you work in between the closest intimacy to the widest perspective, and you do that a lot through the relation between image and sounds and voiceover. 

And first, one thing that I find really interesting, is that your voiceover, or whoever’s voiceover, is never a statement, it’s always full of suggestions, descriptions, unfinished sentences, possibilities, but never saying what things are or what we are supposed to think about things. 

And the second thing is how voice in your films always comes together with other kinds of sounds, so how you sound in a really precise way. And so, I would like to listen to you a little bit about how you build this relation between images and sounds, because it’s absolutely precise, there’s an absolute rigor to it, which doesn’t mean there isn’t doubt and there isn’t experimentation in it, but it’s so very much creating movements within the moment. 

Lynne Sachs: I’ll say a couple things about… So I do use what you call voiceover or narration, but I like to play around with, for example, a word that these days people use all the time, but it hasn’t been historically so considered, and that is the pronouns. 

There’s a couple of things that I think that are anathema that I do, but I’m committed to them. For example, I like to play around with the English language, with the word “you”, so you can also be similar to one, and you can also be a way to invite people in and the listener, the audience isn’t told that you should, I don’t do that, but I say, you might think this, and you might wonder how to relate to members of your family, but I do. I don’t always center myself, and so, to play around with language, that way has become very much a part of my practice. 

Another thing that I’ve done with voiceover and around pronouns, is to not be committed to traditional exposition. As in, you can’t say he, she, without knowing who he, she is, identifying it, explaining it. So in literature, in novels, they’ve been doing that for hundreds of years, you don’t always know where you stand, but film had this commitment to clarity, and the thing is that if you believe that clarity takes the mystery, and that eventually you will arrive at some kind of insight, maybe not like… The world is never absolutely clear, but insight is where you really want to go. So I try to play with that. 

Another thing I try to do with… Or two more things I’ll say about language and about the language that I’ve written or spoken, and that’s part of the film, is that I like to cut what… I don’t call a dialogue, but you know that the convention is to call anything with voiceover, or people talking, dialogue, and it’s cut like prose. It’s cut a period at the end of the sentence, or if someone speaks and then it’s the end of a thought, it’s where the period is, but I like to cut the language the way I would write poetry. So the thing, like a little bit like Robert Altman, things are overlapped, and you think about the ways that language, like information and communication and words, are used simultaneously. 

Thus, you can cut the voice in the same way that you cut the sounds of birds or the sounds of a door closing, and you can play with it, and you can, like the way in poetry lines, in poetry, it’s vital to know where the line breaks are, that’s how sound should edit. It should be rhythmic, it should be in relationship to the image. So there are line breaks. So if you look at a traditional screenplay, there’s no line breaks, it just goes from one side of the page to the other, but if it were full of line breaks, then it would be more engaged with the whole fabric of the sound. So those are different ways of working, that I try to like bring in play, but with an intention. 

Cintía Gil: Expanding from language, because that’s also the question of the languages, which you also use a lot and you play a lot with. 

Lynne Sachs: Super important, yeah. 

Cintía Gil: And not only language, but translation. We had a conversation before about this, your obsession with translation and how, for example, in Your Day is My Night, where you have the different languages coming to play, or in the Washing Society, or actually, in all of your cinema, somehow in Which Way is East, et cetera, in all of your cinema, there’s this question of the breaking of the language. And I actually saw a conversation between you and a lot of people in World Records, where you were talking about English, and I wanted to hear you a little bit about that, because I feel that language itself, as attached to culture and to memory and history, is something that is a material for you. 

Lynne Sachs: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I will, just to mention, that about three years ago, I brought together a group of experimental documentary filmmakers, which included Jean Finley, Sky Hopinka, Naeem Mohaiemen, and Christopher Harris, all artists whose work I just adored, and all artists who, in some way or another, are trying to challenge the dominance of English. Even if they didn’t say, that’s what I’m doing, I could see it in their work so clearly. And now, three years later, English is even more dominant. And how can we, yes, have English as a language of flow between cultures, because so many people know it as their second language, but how can we also subvert it? 

And so, I’ve tried to do that, for example, with Your Day is My Night. The whole film is pretty much in Mandarin and Cantonese, and I have English subtitles, but they’re not just subtitles, I don’t even like the word subtitle, and I’m scared of the word subtitle because it’s not sub. The minute you bring in English subtitles, people start, pretty much stop listening. They stop hearing Chinese, they stop being aware of the textures, the tenderness, let’s say, of another language that isn’t theirs, they completely separate from it.

So I tried to, in that film, I tried to use the text on the screen and across the screen in various ways, and that’s one of the reasons why we actually, on DA Films, we have a separate link for the Your Day is My Night with English subtitles, and another one with Spanish subtitles, because you couldn’t just use a program or an app to get the titles for that film, they have to really move with the recognition of Spanish in relationship to the image, or English. 

So, but I’ve had, in other films of mine, in The Washing Society, we have a whole section of the film where you hear Chinese and you hear Spanish, and you do not have translations, or just a little bit of translation, and therefore, there’s a certain moment of alienation for a viewer who doesn’t know those languages, and I think that’s really important. I think anybody who speaks English as a first language needs to learn what it is to be an outsider. And since that’s like a form content interplay in The Washing Society, because most of the people, at least in the United States, who are washing clothes as a service, are also going through the alienation of being an immigrant. 

So I wanted to switch the power. I worked with a playwright on that film, Lizzie Olesker, she’s just been a real inspiration to me, and together we tried to recognize the oral qualities of Spanish and Chinese, in this case, and to like let them enter the visceral physicality for a listener, that not just information. 

Pretty much all my films, I have resisted that term, like documentary is an educational experience, but it is, in some ways there’s something wrong with that word. If you think that it’s an education in becoming aware and becoming how you are in society, that’s actually one of the biggest intentions of documentary film, is to have people leave the theater or the laptop, or whatever, leave it more aware, not just of Vietnam, or not what it is to be living in a shift bed apartment in a New York City’s Chinatown, but what it is in a more conceptual way, what it is to be an insider and an outsider, to be a resident and a new visitor, what it is to be in that transitional place. If you can leave a film with that, you’re actually, probably, a little bit more mature or a little bit more observant. 

Cintía Gil: And also, in that effort of finding a common language or finding a way to speak to another person whose main language is not English, that vulnerability also allows for some other layers of existence come to life, memories, or fears, or it’s for example, I’m thinking about the moment in Which Way is Easts, when suddenly, memories of work come in a dialogue between you or Dana with someone else, and how that happens, never in a programmatic way, but always from this vulnerability position, it comes from this efforts to be somewhere else, to be there, and which is really beautiful, and I think it’s a quite interesting aspect of your filmmaking, which is this idea of, or possibility of a testimony, the possibility of a testimony, which is not a report or a declaration, or a narrative of events, but more a testimony thought of as a transmission, it’s more as a transmission. 

And I thought, for example, in the way, precisely you worked in Your Day is My Night and The Washing Society, which is quite even a more nuanced way of working with testimony, because you worked those monologues with the people. So there was a process to that, but it comes from before, and I feel that there’s always this quality of transmission in words, in your films, but I would like to hear you a little bit about that process in these two films. 

Lynne Sachs: Actually, I’ll start with Which Way is East, and there was something I learned in that film about translation, and maybe about test testimony. And I’ll try to explore that, but in Which Way is East, I learned something about language and about culture. So there’s always been an expectation around documentary film, that even if we’ve never been somewhere, if we see a movie about that person, I mean about that place, then we have the next best thing. Next best thing to travel is to watch a documentary film. Yeah, but the thing is that that film only gives you, really, the person who made its experience, and it has a kind of… And it should have a clearly prescribed point of view, let’s say. 

But when I was making Which Way is East, I learned that when you’re a foreigner in another country, I was an American in Vietnam. Yes, I didn’t speak the language and my sister did, but there’s another thing I didn’t speak, which has to do with understanding. I didn’t understand the culture enough, for example, to understand the parables. So a parable is actually a far, maybe, richer and more comprehensive mode of understanding a whole way, a psyche, of another country. 

Again, during the war right now, we are all trying to understand the psyche that could make this happen, what is it? And it has to do with the mythology, and in Which Way is East, I decided I wanted to listen to every single parable I could possibly find, related to animals and Vietnam, because parables often do work with animals. And for example, we have a parable here that says, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. If you have it already, don’t try to do anything that’s going to make you look like you might be able to get the two birds in the tree, like hunt them, but probably not, so just keep what you have.

So there was a parable in Vietnam, which said, a frog that sits at the boPom of a pot thinks that the whole world is only as big as the lid of the pot. So it’s sort of solipsistic, it says nothing exists beyond where I am, but it was such a wise way of thinking about a kind of xenophobia that we can have, that we don’t care what is beyond our grasp, and I feel like I’ve been exploring that ever since. 

I explored it in States of UnBelongong, I made a whole body of work, actually, over a decade, which I called, I am Not a War Photographer, and it included… It’s really started with Which Way is East, and it included States of UnBelongong, so they both contemplate what it is to be within something and what it is to observe from afar, and not really to understand and complete… Not to claim complete knowledge. 

So many times, Cintía, when I make a film in another country, which I haven’t done as much lately, because I think, also it’s our obligation as documentary makers to explore where we are at home, but so many times people would presume that I was an expert of anything that I… There’s always that assumption, and I think that it’s also our jobs as makers of this kind of work, to be really transparent that what people are have access to is our search, not really our expertise. 

Cintía Gil: And can you a little bit about the way you built the monologues in Your Day is My Night? 

Lynne Sachs: Sure. Yeah, so-

Cintía Gil: In The Washing Society, how you built the text, because it’s quite a beautiful… 

Lynne Sachs: So

Cintía Gil: Results, and I mean, you can see… 

Lynne Sachs: They both come out of failure, for sure, and if there’s anything I’ve learned aYer quite… Three decades, three and a half decades of making documentary films, that every single project, halfway through, you have a point where you think you cannot go on, you cannot, because this door wasn’t opened or because this person dropped out. So part of the failure of Your Day is my Night, was that I thought I wanted to make a film about people who lived in what are called hotbed houses. That’s a colloquial to that people hardly use anymore, or shiY bed houses, or shared apartments, in which someone might live in a room or on a bed during the day, sleep there during the day, then they go to work at night and somebody else would come in.

And I learned about, that that was a very typical mode of managing, particularly in New York City, but I think worldwide, when you’re a refugee, an immigrant, a person, particularly in an urban environment, which you don’t of have access to the whole infrastructure, sometimes you just have to make do. And so, an apartment doesn’t just mean one family, it could be multiple families. So I was interested in how that would be manifested in New York City, but I really couldn’t get, we say here, my foot in the door, like the proverbial foot in the door. I wasn’t able to get access to people who lived that way, and I felt a little uncomfortable about it. I wasn’t sure that that was my role or that I should be doing that. 

So I thought I would make a fiction film, my first, and I went to a Chinese theater troupe and I asked them if they would work with me, and they said, “Sure, show us the script.” But I didn’t really have the script. I wanted to build on observations and the kind of work that I’m used to doing. 

So that failed, and so I had already two failures under my belt, the failure of getting the foot in the door as a documentary maker and the failure of writing a fiction film, and so I… A man told me, he kind of fancied himself the mayor of Chinatown. He said, “Why don’t you go to that senior, older people community center?” And I went there and I said to them that I was looking for people to be in a film, and I happened to use the word audition, because that’s the word people use for trying out to be in a narrative film, and 40 people auditioned to be in the film, and then seven of them, I thought were extremely charismatic, and they had all actually lived in shift bed apartments. 

And so, instead of auditioning them, I actually did what I’m very comfortable doing, which was interviewing them. And then, so I had these fairly long interviews in Chinese, which had to be translated, and then I worked with a playwright and we turned them into these distillation, based on their lives. 

And so it became a new way of working for me, because in documentary, there’s a, sometimes a kind of trickiness that goes on, as in, I want to know about your life, but I’m going to ask about it in a new way so you don’t really feel comfortable, like you lose your confidence, and you’re going to say something to me that is very, very, very raw, and that’s going to work perfectly with my movie because the rawer, the better. I didn’t want to do that with these people who were in their sixties to eighties at all, and I’ve never been… Maybe I was trying to be tender or something. 

So, because it was their life story, and it was based on experiences they had, then when I gave them back a distillation of what they had already told me, I was perfectly happy with their improvising or forgetting their lines. And it became more about performance, but performing the real, and we had the best time and we got to do things like, take one, take two, take three, which usually, documentary doesn’t get to do, because that’s considered manipulative and that. 

So we worked that way in Your Day is My Night, and then in The Washing Society, there were issues around trying to do your conventional interview with immigrants in the US. People were scared of cameras, and even the word it’s funny, like we say, it is a documentary, but we also use the word undocumented. A person is undocumented because they aren’t here legally. 

It’s almost… They’re synonyms. To be undocumented is to be an illegal, here illegally. So when we said we’re making a documentary, it was like, “No, we can’t do that. We can’t do that.” So what we did was we just talked to laundry workers for about a year, and then we wrote a play, and then we worked with actors, and then we ended up finding a few laundry workers who were here legally, and so they were in… 

So it became a whole hybrid mix, and those are ways of working that I’m still excited about. I’m still like… Well, another thing that happened in The Washing Society, was that one of the actors, her name is Jasmine, ended up becoming one of the, call it, almost like a producer, because she decides, or not… She’s acting in a film about laundry workers, and then her grandmother, with whom she lives, says to her, “Hey Jasmine, I worked in a laundry for 30 years, but you didn’t know it.” She interviews her grandmother, who was very involved in a union, and fought for her own… Her raise. She fought for better working conditions, and probably, her grandmother would never have told her that story, so all of these things come out of failure, or missteps, or obstacles that ended up becoming opportunities. 

Cintía Gil: No, it’s quite beautiful because we are slowly feeling the notion of tenderness with a lot of political power. You’ve just built, like explained, or at least explored also the political implications of sticking to the word documentary sometimes, and sticking to the norms and orthodoxies of what is supposedly a documentary, that many times just serves nothing in certain situations. And so it’s quite beautiful how, if we open that notion, it’s much more about this negotiation or fluidity between us and the world, and what the world brings. 

Lynne Sachs: I think at the very… It’s most fundamental… Most, as documentary makers, our jobs are to encourage our viewers to question the truth. If we do nothing else but that, I think we’ve succeeded. Because that is the only way to translate or to… An experience that’s very closed, which is the watching of a film. How do we create a porous presence for our viewers, that goes beyond the theater? Not so much to say, “Oh, well, I inspired them to become an activist.” Maybe, maybe not, but if you’re already an activist in the most fundamental ways, if you question what the reality that you see, who’s controlling it, not just information, but who’s telling you what is the right thing to do, what is the wrong thing to do, and who’s doing it, and why, and if you question that, then you’re already a better human being, I guess. But of course, we know that when that happens, you become very sad. You have no confidence in anything anymore. 

Cintía Gil: Well, I wanted to bring to that, related to that, the text I was reading, by you, about Gunvor Nelson and her editing lessons, because there’s a moment when you say, “Meaning is discovered outside of…” No sorry, it was me who wrote, aYer your text, I was writing a note saying, that you discover meaning when you let go of continuity, and of the narrative, and of plot, you… I think it was in the moment where you were talking about her, telling you to look at the outtakes, and look at what’s what’s outside of what… You should always look at the outsides before closing a film. 

Lynne Sachs: And actually, thank you for reminding me that she told me that, because I didn’t know why I believe in that. And when I was making Film About a Father Who, that was critical, because the thing is, with what’s beautiful and what are the… People are working on their computers, and they have these folders, and they’re called NG, like No Good. You should go back and look at those, because those are the ones where the camera’s shaking, those are the ones where some kind of wild energy happen, those are the ones where you thought someone said, turn it off, but you didn’t. And things get messy, and when things get messy, they get interesting. And so, she did tell me to go back and look at the outtakes, because the first response, usually, of an artist is, what is pretty? And when did I do a good job? And the good job means that I measured my F stops correctly, and the good job is that there was no traffic going on when the sound was running, and so you tend to judge things in the most insubstantive registers, you’re saying, “Oh, this looks good, and this is accomplished.” And the other material is more revealing. 

And so, when I was working on Film About a Father Who, I made myself go back and look at videotapes that had been shot on VHS in the 1980s and stored in garages, and I thought they were ruined, and I was just about to throw them away. And then I come across an image, for example, of my dad, where all the color had disappeared, and it was just his silhouette and some lines going through, but you could still tell it was a man walking away. And I thought, that’s the perfect image for the last shot of the film, because people don’t mean detail, and furthermore, these days, with the digital cameras, we’ve got a plethora of detail. 

We know what people’s faces look like, what we need is something that’s more ephemeral and suggestive, and therefore, if it’s at the end of the film and I had totally dismissed it, I should say, if it’s the end of the film, the audience can fill in the detail in their heads. And that means they’re involved, that means they did the work, that means they spent 74 minutes with me and with us. 

And so, those are the kind of images that Gunvor would’ve said, you need, and I would’ve, in the 1980s, when she was my teacher, I would’ve said, “Oh, that’s embarrassing. That’s terrible.” And she taught me a lot, she taught me that dead flowers are prettier than living ones, because you have stores selling the pretty ones, the living ones with color, but nobody’s selling dead flowers, so they’re much more thought provoking. 

Cintía Gil: Yeah, and it’s interesting when you link that to what you were talking about, that the minimum, or what a documentary filmmaker does, is to make people question truth. And at the same time you talk about building meaning by… In bringing to the film, this sort of failures, or moments of not… Unpreiness, it’s quite beautiful, which brings me to the next question, which is the role children in your films, because it’s one of the most risky things to do in film, is to work with kids, and you do it. 

Lynne Sachs: And dogs, and I don’t do dogs. 

Cintía Gil: Yeah, true. But it’s quite beautiful because it’s, I think most of the time I meet with girls, young children, girls, but children, in general, are all through your filmography. Not all the films, but they are there very much present, and it’s beautiful because they bring a sense of transition, again, this sense of unstable transition, but also this sensation of extreme perception. It’s like they come… It’s very much linked to play and you film them in a very, how to say, very grounded way, in the sense that you portray them in some sort of mystic way, or whatever. Cintía Gil: But at the same time, they bring this capacity for extreme perception. For example, the young girl who talks to you in And Then We Marched, or the children in States of UnBelonging, the children, for example, the film that is not in the program, but the film you did with your kids, with the, we need the pool play. 

So there’s always this weird capacity of children in your films, that through play, they reveal something else, and they add something to the film. So I wanted to know, because you started that really early in your filmmaking, to do things with kids. 

Lynne Sachs: Well, yeah, I can say that one of my beliefs, when I decided that I would have children, and also I decided I would be an artist, it’s not that I said right away, I’m not going to separate them, but there is a, call it a paradigm, for male artists, that there’s a woman at home, taking care of the kids. So Paul Gauguin can go to Tahiti, and other filmmakers we know of, like Francis Ford Coppola, he could be shooting, what’s the movie he shot in… Apocalypse Now, and his wife is along, making a movie about him, and their kids are there too, but she’s there to support him. And my husband is a filmmaker as well, but we support each other, and I just didn’t want to separate myself, as in, I have a person taking care of the… They were there. 

So there’s an expression in English, where people say out of the mouths of babes, like as I never thought children have more insight. I was just interested in the evolution of insight, I was interested in trying to connect with something like the novel and book, The Tin Drum. You go back to these movies that talk about this haunting quality. One movie that had a very big effect on me was The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick, and believe it or not, the person who pushed me to see what an incredible film that is, it’s not a child who’s speaking, but it’s a young man who’s a soldier. 

And with Stan Brakhage, and those are not the kind of movies that Stan, the great American experimental filmmaker, Stan Brakhage didn’t make kind of movies with voiceovers and story, but he loved that movie, he loved the rawness of it, and I think there’s a way that children offer that and they don’t censor themselves. And I also like that they’re willing to make mistakes, or they make mistakes. 

And in The House of Science, a breakthrough moment for me was that I asked a friend of mine if I could film her daughter, tap dancing. And so when I went to their house, she kept running away from me, it’s in the film, so she’s supposed to be on a pedestal, tap dancing, and she doesn’t obey us at all. And she’s wearing this Batman costume, not a costume with a little tutu or anything, and she runs away. 

And then there’s another scene in that film, where I was working with a girl and I had her read the most insidious anthropological text by a man named Cesare Lomroso, and she makes all these, which you would call mistakes, but they become very subversive and radical and smart, at least from my perspective. And both girls saw the film a few years later, and they said to me, “Oh, that it’s so embarrassing. I can’t believe I wasn’t reading well.” Or, “I can’t believe I wasn’t compliant.” But I’ve never been interested in compliancy. I, once when my girls were younger, I met a woman who was bragging to me because her… She said, “My daughter is in all these commercials for The Gap.” It was for the… Because she’s so compliant. And I think, “I’m glad my kids were not invited to be in commercials.” But I’ve been surprised by children ever since. And then,

And Then We Marched, I had filmed the Women’s March in 2017, when we were all devastated by the new president of the United States, but I decided that if I were to listen to another adult, I’d probably hear what I expected to hear, and I wanted to hear from a child. So it was a great excuse to knock on the door of my neighbors, I hardly knew, and to talk to this little girl. And she was so excited by things like yelling on the street, and she was so excited, she was so sad that they’d lost their sign. And there was something so clear and not hype. It was super smart, but it wasn’t trying to be too intellectual. It was just there, like just observant, and I thought that was so much of a gift. I’m really interested in all the gifts that happen in filmmaking. You do give to your audience, but the people who are willing to be in your movies are also giving of themselves. 

Cintía Gil: Now, as the last question, I wanted to build a little bit, some sort of leap between the oldest film in this program, which is Drawn and Quartered. 

Lynne Sachs: Ah, yeah. 

Cintía Gil: And the film of About the Father Who, because it’s quite… They are completely different, they come from completely different moments, but it’s quite beautiful, because in Drawn and Quartered, you obviously were experimenting and looking at intimacy and closure and body in the most… It’s beautiful, because actually, in your films, and now I’m thinking about the way that film finishes, there’s this link to the window, there is the closure, but then there’s the window, there’s the outside, and there’s the world also. But then in Film About the Father Who, it’s like you are taking a trip in the… We never know where it’ll take you, we as a viewer, we never know where we will go, and it’s quite beautiful because you give it… It’s like a film where I feel somehow that you, as a filmmaker, are more vulnerable than in that first film that we see.

Lynne Sachs: I think that Christopher Small’s curating is really brilliant to have included these two films for exactly that reason. So there’s a word that we use a lot in talking about how our culture works. We talk about exposure, like, do you want exposure? Do you feel exposed? Are you exposing yourself? Is someone exposing you? It’s both an active… Like a transient and… A transitive intransitive… You use that word in many, many different valances. And so, when I was making Drawn Quartered, where I take all my clothes off, my boyfriend takes his clothes off, I had read Laura Mulvey’s essay at the time, which was only probably 12 years in… It was part of a cannon of feminism, but not everybody had read it, but I had read it, and I was aware of her ideas around the male gaze. 

So I wanted to try to subvert that without erasing it. So I gave the camera to my boyfriend, he shot me nude, I shot him nude, and it’s all in the film, and it’s only four minutes, and I called it Drawn and Quartered, which is an expression, it’s from like the medieval period. To be drawn and quartered is to be pulled, like punished, it’s a punitive action when you’re pulled into four parts, and the film actually exists in four parts, so horses pulled you into fragments and you’re killed. So I felt really exposed in that film, but I’d done it to myself, and I actually edit my face out. I thought, “Okay, I’ll show my body, but I won’t show my face.” And then I thought, “That is very weak. If I’m going to claim my in my film, I’ll put it back in.” 

So this was before computer editing, so you see the splices. It’s destructive editing, like am I in, out, in out? Anyway, I ended up in the film, and so, audiences can see that very exposed film. It’s got nudity, so I don’t know if DA Films has to put, click a buPon, like, “This is awkward, kid.” No- … nudity than you might see in the Louvre, with a Rodin or a Michelangelo, but it’s nudity, and not as many muscles.

And then I make a film about my relationship with my dad and my other family members, and it’s really very exposed, but there’s no nudity. It’s very, it’s vulnerable in another way, and much scarier. I was scared in 1986, but I was terrified in 2000, in 2020, excuse me, 2020, which is when I finished that film, because I felt like I’d kind of been making up who I was all along, and I felt vulnerable because I both had this very compassionate appreciation for my dad, as well as rage, and to show both, either one of those, made this into a very personal film, but I wanted the film to give people a chance to connect to their own families and maybe find some court, like relationship that seemed familiar to them. But all of it came because I actually didn’t put any filters on. I kept thinking I should, and then I didn’t, and I really didn’t think many people would ever see this film. It never occurred to me that it would stream, ever. It never occurred to me that I would really travel much with it. I just needed to get it out of my system, so the exposure part of it was a relief, like, “Okay, now I’m just being honest.” 

Cintía Gil: Now it’s quite amazing, because today I was thinking about the film again, and linking it to your other films. And I was thinking about the sentence, I am not a war photographer, and somehow it resonated, the way, how do you, as a filmmaker, go into a film, or for example, when you talk about fear in States of UnBelonging. And I see all of that in the film of About the Father Who. I see fear too, and I see this sort of, the potential idea of war in the sense of, how do you place yourself as a filmmaker in a place of conflict, and it’s absolutely impressive that all these ideas that flowed through your work, suddenly they are met together in a film about your father, where you were so vulnerable too. 

Lynne Sachs: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And it’s been real… I want to say, so there have been two independent documentary makers who’ve died in the last two weeks in Ukraine. Maybe one of them was in Russia. I don’t know where they both were, but there, in the work that we do, there is a tendency to want to witness. And I love… Wherever you are, you’re witnessing. And they put their lives on the line, so I want to say, I’m awed by that, and that is the ultimate vulnerability. 

Cintía Gil: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I had one last thing to ask you still about a Film About the Father Who, which is the… Because you give it the title, drawing from Film About a Woman Who, by Yvonne Rainer, and which you also refer to in your second short film, I think, the one, A Woman With Four Objects. 

Lynne Sachs: Yeah. 

Cintía Gil: You also link to Yvonne, but it’s interesting, because in Film About a Woman who, she’s moving away, or she’s refusing the narrative control, and idea of plot, and the antimonic normativity of narrative, and I find it fascinated, the fact that you affirm that for yourself and you come from there to film a man and a story, or a lifetime that is more fascinating, sometimes, than the wildest of fictions. So it’s very interesting, because you affirm this putting narrative away when you are dealing with the most incredible fiction story that you have in front of you, so I wanted you to tell us a little bit about this. 

Lynne Sachs: So interesting, when there is this propensity in documentary filmmaking that you have to buy a ticket. If you really need to go far away to find what’s most exotic, the most interesting, because your life… And I actually, maybe, had bought into that at some points in my life. I had made a lot of films that required travel. And then, actually, probably about 10 years ago, I started to think, how can you look inward? How can you, not so much make personal films, but what do you know from living the life that you have for this many years? So I think that the insight that Yvonne Rainer, to me, gives us, is a kind of rigor to look at the structure of family, to look at family as an anthropological being, and to distance ourself, to look at archetypes, to look at relationships that we can find through the structures that she creates in that film, that has a lot of detachment. She allows us into her head through her aesthetic choices and her very radical resistance to certain formulas that exist in family. 

I had to take what I got, I got, this is the world I live in, the family is this way, but I want to leave the answers in an… She uses an ellipsis. So she uses dot, dot, dot, dot. Film About a Woman Who, you fill it in, and you fill it in because you understand how narrative works, or syntax. And I tried to, I leY that off. It’s a little bit like Which Way is East. They’re not questions, they don’t have that at the end, but they ask us to, one, to fill in. And in both cases, I guess what I’m trying to do, is I actually want you to fill in, so you fill in because you learn about me, but that’s not the gift I gave, the gift I gave you isn’t just this extravagant story of a dad who had nine kids by six different women, because that was the life I lived, and I just knew was hard, but I want my viewers to… And this has happened a lot more than I thought, a lot, where people look at their… They transpose my story to their lives in this very energetic way. 

And it’s not just women, it’s a way of saying, my flawed situation that I thought was so flawed is my own situation, but there are very few families that don’t have that, that don’t have something that gives anguish, or maybe not the extreme that I have, but I don’t wish that you would live and think this is the wildest story I’ve ever seen, though it’s pretty wild, but maybe just that, in my case, that a woman lived through it with shadings of a lot of emotions. And I think there are many ways that my film is different from Yvonne Rainer’s. She’s made some brilliant films that deal with her cancer, she’s made some incredible films that deal with the lives of performers and the psychic space that goes on in their heads. So she has ways of telling us what’s on her mind, and it’s the formal discoveries that are so interesting. 

Cintía Gil: We should finish now, but I still want to push you for one more, which is, because you were talking about Yvonne and about the spectator and how… And all your cinema is built… I think your body of work is probably, for me, one of the closest to what could be a correspondence cinema, which is not an epistolary cinema, it’s beyond that. It’s like a building in between different people, and it speaks to the way you film Barbara and Carolee and Gunvor, and how you build A Month of Single Frames, but also how you exactly, you build that come and go and trust with the viewer, with your known viewer. So I wanted to ask you a little bit to talk about collaboration in this open sense, about this idea of correspondence and how you, in your work, you allow others to exist with you and how you build that. 

Lynne Sachs: Thank you for asking that. I’m still looking for the right word. Is it correspondence? Is it a collective experience? Is it a collaboration? One thing I’ll say that is kind of a tricky issue around documentary, is that there’s an expectation that you don’t pay your subjects, because if you pay them, then they’re influenced by that financial relationship. I actually, about nine years ago, threw that out the door, because I thought, if there’s any experience where someone is time with me, multiple iterations of that, I need to recognize them in a professional way, and recognize that they’re not able to do something else that makes money. So there’s, yes, I want to say, I have chemistry with people I work with, I have a commitment, but I also recognize that they’re doing something for a project that I created, and I have to also see their work as important enough to be paid for it. 

So that’s one thing, I won’t say it’s very much, but it’s a recognition. Then there’s the other relationships, that I feel really grew, like in Your Day is My Night, these were people I had never met before, and it’s particular to Chinese culture, and I wasn’t aware of it, that you have a lot of physical contact. So we met over a period of a year, and definitely, food was a very big part of our experience. And I think in a movie making situation, they collect craft services, and you have to have good food because people get tired. But I think the food is totally different, it doesn’t have to be that good, it has to create, it has to contribute to that warmth, it has to contribute to the fact that we can be friends, as well as people making something together. And that’s something I feel I’m always looking for in my work, that people have enthusiasm for making something that they might not have made, like if I’m working with someone who does a sound mix for me, I like to show that person the film over six months, so that he’s involved intellectually. 

I work with a man named Stephen Vitiello. He worked on Film About a Father Who, he worked on Your Day is My Night and other films of mine, that he doesn’t just do… He is a musician, but he involves himself. Sometimes he’ll deliver sounds to me that I have to meet him, and so we have this, call it mutual respect, and we get excited as artists, as creative people, about our collaboration. 

Also, I feel really close to people like you, people who are curators, who give me insight, and then I learn through your observations of the films, I learn how your mind works, I learn how certain things exhilarate you. I feel like we met on the terrain of cinema and then learned things about each other, and I think that’s really pretty profound. 

Cintía Gil: But it’s also very beautiful, the generous way how you allow your films to have that. 

Lynne Sachs: Hopefully. 

Cintía Gil: Thank you so much, Lynne, it’s an absolute pleasure to talk with you, always. 

Lynne Sachs: Thank you for your fantastic insights. And it’s actually rare for a filmmaker to have the chance to talk to someone who’s looked at work over this many years and sees threads that I didn’t always know they’re there, but I know how I work, so I really, I learned a lot from you, thank you very much. 

Cintía Gil: No, I learned from you. Thank you. And thank you to your films. 

Lynne Sachs: Yeah. 

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.

Chicago Filmmakers: Agitate Essential Cinema

Chicago Filmmakers



Agitate is group show that spotlights leading voices in contemporary avant-garde film and video – a collection of multidisciplinary artists whose work grapples with and transcends the nihilism at the core of white patriarchy, cinematic expression, and the mediated reality that dominant cultures spawn.


Agitate Essential Cinema Volume 1 screens in-person at Chicago Filmmakers on Saturday, December 18th at 7:00pm!

Agitate Essential Cinema Volume 1 includes the work of Nazlı Dinçel, Karissa Hahn, Sylvia Toy St. Louis, Lynne Sachs, Morrison Gong, Gisela Guzmán, Kelly Gallagher, J.E. Sharpe, Xiaoer Liu, Anu Valia and Sara Suarez. These artists, in concert, express resistance and exuberance in equal measure, each using unique dimensions of cinematic space, ranging from abstract-material to narrative approaches, presenting a collage of phenomenological records of identity and a rebuttal to the term: “Essential Cinema”.

Through this series, we are looking to create a new cinematic cannon that is not defined by white patriarchy but by the vast explorations on space and identity led prominently by those who do not identify as white and male. These are visions inherent to the avant-garde, especially in 2020.

Agitate is an all-inclusive international avant-garde that promotes artists of all types, all genders, and all races. It was founded by Xiaoer Liu, Gisela Guzmán, and M. Woods, but it has no leadership structure, and everyone has an equal voice. Anyone can be a leader in Agitate. This is Agitate’s first traveling screening series. It is a renegotiation of the term “Essential Cinema”.

Chicago Filmmakers Firehouse Cinema

In-person screenings are held at Chicago Filmmakers firehouse cinema located at 1326 W Hollywood Ave in the Edgewater neighborhood. Please be sure to arrive 15 minutes prior to showtime and be ready to present your order confirmation number for admission. Proof of full vaccination or a negative Covid-19 PCR test result is required to attend all screenings and events.

“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

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.

Lynne Sachs in Letters as Films compiled by Garbiñe Ortega

More than 50 postcards, manuscripts, typewritten letters and even emails are presented alongside stills, drawings and storyboards to create a stunning epistolary archive many years in the making. Curator and Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival director Garbiñe Ortega has compiled these materials in an effort to “create echoes and reverberations between materials which, as in a film, thanks to the editing, take on another meaning beyond their specific content.”

The volume includes correspondence exchanged among filmmakers Jodie Mack, Jonas Mekas, Stan Brakhage, Jorge Honik, Claudio Caldini, Lech Kowalski, Nicole Brenez, Marcel Hanoun, Nathaniel Dorsky, George Kuchar, Nazli Dinçel, Norman McLaren, Maya Deren, Jean Vigo, Richard Leacock, Monica Flaherty, Richard Linklater, Gabe Kingler, Robert Breer, Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, Fernando Trueba, Jean-Marie Straub, Jim Jarmusch, Hanun Farocki, Robert Frank, Fred Wiseman, Margaret Tait, Ute Aurand, Terrence Malick, Lynne Sachs and Gunvor Nelson. 

Published in 2021, Spanish & English


Cartas como películas / Letters as Films 

A project by Garbiñe Ortega

This book you are holding is the result of a project that, I assume, will accompany me for life. It involves a passionate investigation, one that has been underway for a number of years now, with the challenge of discovering relevant letters between filmmakers for the purpose of tracing unthought-of connections and relationships and drawing new cinematographic families and genealogies.

The year 2018 saw the publication of Correspondencia:cartas como películas (co- edited with Francisco Algadn Navarro for Punto de Vista), the first volume of a collection of letters containing names from the entire history of cinema, right from its origins, and laying the basis fr)f this second publication. On this occasion, the focus is on contemporary filmmakers, artists who are or have been active up to a relatively short time ago. This time the challenge is twofold. On the one hand, to find letters in these times in which our form of communication has changed radically, thanks to new technologies. Everything is immediate and far less developed than traditional letters. By necessity, this book includes not only letters but also emails, the new digital epistolary. On the other hand, being so close to the present, in many cases the materials in this book were very generously loaned by the filmmakers themselves, not so much by archives and institutional collections. This has conditioned the selection of the content, always for the better I think, as the filmmakers themselves are the first editors of their own material.

Right from the outset, we were aware that this book would be incomplete: ·we would inevitably leave out names, families, themes, letters. However, although we have aimed to keep it as diverse as possible, the project is not intended to be completeist, but consistent in its diversity. Accepting these limitations and freeing myself from this impossible objective of wanting to include ‘everything’, I have tried to create echoes and reverberations between materials which, as in a film, thanks to the editing, take on another meaning beyond their specific content. Thus it is a book that allows for different interpretations, from beginning to end, with a carefully thought-out order, always subjective, in which I propose relationships between letters and photos, leaps in time, inexplicit thematic sub- chapters (on how to deal with criticism or letters of admiration), small sequenced tributes (such as the one dedicated to Harun Farocki or to a generation from the American avant-garde cinema). However the book can also be read at random, allowing the reader to skip to any page desired and, l hope, to find a little jewel. 

In the last chapter, entitled ‘The letters that weren’t are too’, which paraphrases a verse by the Basque poet Joseba Sarrionandia (‘The things that weren’t are too’), you will find a game that was proposed to an admired group of filmmakers who already represent the present and future of contemporary cinema. They all accepted this task of writing an imaginary letter to a filmmaker from an)’ era of the film history, whether living or dead, and V\ho they are not acquainted with. The further away from their own film genre, the better, I added to this imitation. The letters received are the result of an overwhelming creative richness and generosity. Here, letters are included from Deborah Stratman, lVIarianoLlinas, Ana Vaz, Rabih Mrouc, Luis Lopez Carrasco, and Jodie Mack. 

This book would never have come into being without the work of many individuals: all the filmmakers who have contributed with letters from their m, n archives, some of which arc included herein, while we have put others aside for a forthcoming book. It would be impossible to name everyone, but you all know who you are. To all the institutions and professionals who we have worked with to obtain the materials, I would particularly express my thanks to Haden Guest, Simon Field, Lynne Sachs, Alexander Horwath, Antje Ehmann and Nicole Brenez for their unconditional support for this project. To Maria Rodriguez Abad, who has worked enthusiastically and tirelessly and who ought to write her own book on how she managed to obtain permission for each letter. To Francisco Algarin Navarro, who meticulously investigated, as only he knows how, seeking out letters and photos; to all the team from La Fabrica, and with a special mention to Miriam Querol for her great coordination work, and to Punto de Vista, who believed in the project and who are working with dedication on this infinite epistolary publication. A big thank you to Max Goldberg for his loyal support to my editorial projects which, in this case, has materialised in the form of a prologue to this book. To my dear colleagues and friends, Matias Pineiro, ldoia Zabaleta and Maria Palacios Cruz, with whom I think aloud through our ongoing correspondence. To lune, to my family, who accompany all these endless passions with lively pleasure. 

To you, the reader, for immersing yourself in this small multi-dimensional journey. I hope you receive at least a little of the excitement that this project has given us. 

Garbiñe Ortega 

Gunvor Nelson / Lynne Sachs

Dear Lynne,

I have finally seen your film. I am very happy that l am pleased with my own

section thank you!

Quick first impressions: What a lush rural place and sweet old-fashioned house Carolee has. I notice that she still needs to show nakedness, only just a bit this time. I am surprised that Barbara moves so fast and vigorously as she walks toward the camera. Her section is the best and she is so good at presenting herself. She participates engagingly in what she says and shows. Her camera dance is a lot of fun!

I Iike my part also. The only negative is that my s-sounds sound like I have false teeth, anyway on my equipment here. Your closeups beautifully set the stage throughout the film.

I have not travelled since before Christmas, have not had the strength. Hopefully I can take the train to Stockholm in a few days in order to take care of film business, errands and to see a film-program. I will also look at electric tricycles, and maybe buy one – this because I am about to sell my car to my sister. I realize that it is best so since I have fainted a few times and with a tricycle I can take smaller roads and will be able to stop in time.

Thanks again Lynne, Gunvor