Tag Archives: contractions

Onion City Experimental Film Festival 2024 / Contractions


Saturday, April 6 2024 | 5:00 PM | 73 Mins | Chicago Filmmakers


Otherhood* | Deborah Stratman | USA, Jordan, Brazil | 2023 | 3 Mins
Mother and child confront the other. Meanwhile, some ladies are thinking.
*In-Person Screening Only

Contractions* | Lynne Sachs | USA | 2024 | 12 Mins
What happens when those who gestate no longer have control of their bodies? In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ended a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion in the United States. CONTRACTIONS takes us to Memphis, Tennessee where we contemplate the discontinuation of abortion services at a women’s health clinic.
*In-Person Screening Only

I Am a Horse | Chaerin Im | Republic of Korea, Denmark | 2022 | 8 Mins 
Unable to find girls in the diverse artwork of the Korean artist Lee Jung-seob, filmmaker Chaerin Im unravels an imaginative tale of women born with half of their bodies as a horse and a tiger. The tale is inspired by her mother’s Korean birth dreams (Tae-mong) while pregnant with her twin sister and herself.

Grandmamauntsistercat* | Zuza Banasinska | The Netherlands, Poland | 2024 | 23 Mins
Created from the Polish Educational Archive materials, this film tells the story of a matriarchal family through the eyes of a child grappling with the reproduction of ideological and representational systems.
*In-Person Screening Only

Hemorrhage | Ruth Hayes | USA | 2023 | 4 Mins
Animated agitprop against the end of Roe and the evisceration of women’s rights to choose.

legs | Jennifer Still, Christine Fellows, Chantel Mierau | Canada | 2023 | 15 Mins
Three artists work in stride to translate, in sound and motion, the heart of a poem. They collaborate with life’s unexpecteds – snapped clotheslines, drained swimming pools, terminal diagnoses – and learn what falls away is not necessarily gone.

First Aid – Test Series 1 | Maria Anna Dewes, Myriam Thyes | Germany | 2022 | 9 Mins
Care and violence, acknowledgement and reprehension, to give or withdraw support: the video finds performative, sculptural, bizarre and poetic images for this range of diverse gestures and actions. They line up like a series of tests reflecting interpersonal relationships and current social conditions.

Contractions / Brooklyn Rail / Dispatches from True/False

Celebrating international nonfiction in Columbia, Missouri.


By Edward Frumkin

“What is the responsibility for a film festival during the oppression of Palestinians in Israeli-controlled Gaza and the efforts of various liberation movements in countries like Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Senegal? Should film festivals even occur? There are ever-evolving questions that cause me to be skeptical about the politics and rationale to cover influential fests like IDFA, Sundance, and Berlinale when they play both sides in their statements: remaining damn near silent or criminalizing artists stating their solidarity with Palestine and not abiding by the inimical IHRA definition of anti-semitism (meaning any critiques of Zionism) respectfully. On February 23, the True/False Film Festival in liberal Columbia, Missouri, demanded an immediate ceasefire with a pro-Palestinian stance and recognized Palestinians’s multi-generational fight for their emancipation. The demand offered many first time and veteran attendees a haven to form a political alliance with the fest’s ideology and use their playfulness in creative nonfiction as social activism, as the six-thousand-plus signatory coalition—Film Workers for Palestine—held the banner “Ceasefire Now” at the fest’s annual March March.

True/False puts their money in their mouth with their words as they amplified Yousef Srouji’s Three Promises (2023) as the True/Life Fund recipient. His hour-long documentary is an extension of his eponymous 2022 short. The director’s mother, Suha, captures home videos of her family life, her spouse Ramzi, Yousef, and his sibling Dima in Palestine during the early 2000s. The Second Intifada emerges at this time to combat the Nakba dispossession of Palestinians, and Suha’s intimate cinematography grounds us with the family at their several homes as we hear bombs and gunshots miles away. Yousef spreads his family’s archival catalog in non-chronological order, as the trauma caused by the violence prevents him from thinking linearly. Yet, the narrative choice evokes the ever-lasting feeling of belonging among his Christian family as they celebrate Christmas and he lives out his childhood. Three Promises is a cathartic, healful endurance against the ongoing genocide in Palestine. With True/Life’s attentive lens in recognizing the vividness of Suha’s DV footage, they will send the proceeds to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and towards Yousef’s efforts in manufacturing a sustainable digital archive for home videos made in Palestine, thus preserving the country’s history, as the Israeli military has already destroyed many of Al Jazeera’s archives to date.

Deracination is a common theme that permeates this year’s six world premiere features (nearly all directorial debuts) at True/False, such as what it means to be an artist in gentrified NYC in Elizabeth Nichols’s lyrically punk Flying Lessons (2024), as well as filmmaker Rachel Elizabeth Seed finding her matriarchal lineage through her mothers’ images in her riveting A Photographic Memory (2024). The one that holds me dearly is Emily Mkrtichian’s There Was, There Was Not (2024). Named after an Armenian aphorism, it analyzes the makeup of the Republic of Artsakh through Judo champion Sose, minesweeper Sveta, politician Siranush, and women’s center owner Gayane. In 2018, the territory celebrated thirty years of peace following a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but the homelands were demolished in 2023. To honor the characters’ joy and resistance, Mkrtichian negotiates how much outsiders should know about violence in the little-known Artsakh through text. However, the context felt out of place as most of the text happens in the second half with little room for character growth. Though she could have condensed some of the history, Mkritichian’s intimate compositions on holding onto her protagonists during griefful moments redirect the structure of There Was, There Was Not. Therefore, the film is an observational heart pounder that explores the acts of preservation, mourning, and displacement.

Another True/False selection that mirrors its philosophy of finding new visual grammar with political sensibilities is João Pedro Bim’s Behind Closed Doors (2023). The all-archival doc follows a revelation of a 1968 previously-obscured audio recording of Brazil’s National Security Council enacting the Institutional Act. No. 5. The act suspended many civil rights, including habeas corpus, and was written after the 1964 Brazil coup d’état. His tethering of archival, nationalist images, and sounds (predominantly a record scratch) elicits outrage, revolt, and power to the people. His overlay of clips theorizes the normality of propaganda and shows how media mediates the spread of totalitarianism to the public. The strength of the people is what feared the council and unspooled regression to ensure hierarchical control in today’s Brazil. It is a Godardian essay on the banality of evil and a catastrophic shutdown of democracy. The film’s structure also speaks to the daring spirit of its next festival appearance in NYC’s First Look Film Festival (along with the aforementioned Flying Lessons) at the Museum of the Moving Image for conveying a contemporary message from past media sources.

Shorts at True/False are never to be underestimated for their ingenious experimentations. They are provocations instead of proof of concepts for potential feature-length adaptations. The Pope of Trash, John Waters, will likely perceive Evan Gareth Hoffman as a disciple of garbage cinema with his archival short Nortel (2024). Hoffman shared with the crowd that he agglomerates the “trashiest options” available (silly promotional materials, reality TV clips, “shoplifting TikToks,” skincare social media enthusiasts, reverb voiceover, etc.) to examine the eponymous corporation and its CEO Frank Dunn’s rise and decimation after they constructed literal flying cars in the 1960s. Hoffman undercuts them with a hilarious soundtrack (consisting of songs like Black Eyed Peas’s “I Gotta Feeling” and Taylor Swift’s “You’re On Your Own, Kid”) juxtaposing with Dunn’s doom. In what one might consider a narrative Rick and Morty “Interdimensional Cable” episode, Hoffman goes outside the box with the concept of sponsored content by finding the incongruity and the goad in publicity campaigns. Commercials aren’t just documents in Hoffman’s palms but also a radicalization and a search for truth in the digitalized age.

Filmic poet Lynne Sachs cranks in a new short with Contractions (2024), surprisingly her first work at the twenty-one-year-old fest after her heavy output of films like the poetic short Swerve (2022) and personal feature Film About a Father Who (2020). Shot on the first anniversary of the reversal of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2023, in Sachs’s hometown, Memphis, a driver named Jane and gynecologist Dr. Kimberly Looney narrate the intense experiences of getting people abortions in states with legal facilities (Illinois, for example). We see opaque pairs of pregnant people and their escorts (all actors) line up and slowly enter the building. The cast’s gestures enact trauma, nerves, and capriciousness in doing something once legally acceptable that is now the opposite. They carry a history where their reproduction rights are currently in paralysis.

Motifs of open and closed spaces once liberating for pregnant people are refined into barriers that prevent them from fulfilling their wishes. Due to the fact they made the film in Tennessee, a place where they could get arrested, Sachs and her producers, Emily Berisso and Laura Goodman, said in their Q&A that they enlisted security to protect them from prosecution, which elevates Sach’s heedful balance of spreading enough sobbing information and protecting her sources simultaneously. Unbeknownst to the rest of the team, Berisso assembled thirteen additional volunteer marshals and a medic in this labor of love. Recalling the ending of BlacKKKlansman (2018), snippets of the blue sky become black and white as we head into the upside down.”

Films from the Abortion Clinic Film Collective / AgX Film Collective

Still from Raymond Rea’s film A Mile and a Half


Saturday, April 20, 2024
7:30 PM  9:00 PM
AgX Film Collective
144 Moody Street, Building 18, 2nd Floor
Waltham, MA, 02453 United States (map)

In the Abortion Clinic Film Collective series, we hear from medical directors and staff, mothers and daughters, criminal defense attorneys and advocates, about how their personal and professional lives have been affected post-Dobbs. Each portal provides a window into the broad and life-threatening ramifications of that Supreme Court decision and its devastating legacy for the health and well-being of our country.

Doors open at 7pm. Program begins at 7:30pm.

Screening will be followed by a discussion led by participating filmmaker and AgX member Raymond Rea.

Program Details (approximately 50 min total runtime):

A Mile and a Half, Ray Rea, 5.5 min

The border between North Dakota and Minnesota is physically only a narrow river but legislatively a canyon. In the sister city straddling that border a move of a mile and a half saved lives.

Contractions, Lynne Sachs, 12 min

In a place where a woman can no longer make decisions about her own body, we listen to an OB-GYN who can no longer perform abortions and a “Jane” who drives patients across state lines while a group of activists perform outside a women’s health clinic.

As Long as We Can, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, 10.5 min

As the Arizona state supreme court hears arguments on whether to reinstate an abortion ban that originated in 1864, we glimpse into the day-to-day activities of this for-now still functioning clinic, one of just two left in the state that provides surgical abortions.

Retracing Our Steps, Kelly Gallagher, 8.5 min

A woman reflects back on her time spent assisting abortion seekers when Roe v. Wade was the law of the land.

The Longest Walk, Đoan Hoàng Curtis, 9 min

A filmmaker returns to Kentucky in the wake of its total abortion ban, to revisit the clinic – now closed – where she terminated a pregnancy that resulted from her assault at age 13. She reaches out to the male classmate who witnessed the aftermath of her assault decades earlier.

We Are About to Commit a Felony, Sasha Waters, 4 min

Arson at a Planned Parenthood and the closing of a community clinic endanger the lives of women in Knoxville, TN. A teaching doctor reflects on what the post-Dobbs world means for her patients and her students, who are the next generation of reproductive care workers.

Masks are strongly encouraged at this event to help protect the most vulnerable among our community. If you are hoping to attend but feel that you need a specific accommodation of any sort, please do not hesitate to reach out to hi[at]agxfilm.org.

62nd Ann Arbor Film Festival / Contractions


The 62nd Ann Arbor Film Festival will take place March 26–31, 2024 (online March 26–April 7). Each program is different. Films are not rated. All programs are intended for mature audiences except for Saturday’s Almost All Ages (6+) program. Some films have imagery of a stroboscopic nature.

SATURDAY 3/30/24

Films in Competition 11


Michigan Theater Main Auditoirum | 7:30pm | $

Destination Ann Arbor

U-M Department of Afroamerican and African Studies

U-M Black Film Society
African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County

Jackie & John Farah

Lynne Sachs
Brooklyn, NY | 2024 | DCP

WORLD PREMIERE (online unavailable)

In 2022, the US Supreme Court ended a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion in the United States. In a place where a woman can no longer make decisions about her own body, a group of activist performers “speak” with the full force of their collective presence. 

True / False Film Festival / “Impossible Solution” Short Film Program and Campfire Story

February 29 – March 3, 2024

With cinema as a focal point, Ragtag Film Society exists to captivate and engage communities in immersive arts experiences that explore assumptions and elicit shared joy, wonder, and introspection.




Embedded within this program are an array of storytelling approaches and diverse techniques, each offering a distinct lens through which to explore the themes of identity, community, and human connection. As this program unfolds, the films interweave these themes into a rich tapestry of narratives, inviting us to delve into the intricacies of the human experience. From the movements of experimental choreography to the vibrant art strokes that animate the frame, and the immersive worlds of fictional reenactments, these films showcase a spectrum of creative expressions, each contributing to the multifaceted exploration of our shared humanity. (Eynar Pineda, Artistic Co-Director)

Amma ki Katha | Dir. Nehal Vyas; 2023; India, USA; 21 min
A creative and incisive look at how history is written and rewritten as a filmmaker unpacks the
myth-making of her homeland, India.

L’Esquisse | Dir. Tomas Cali; 2023; France; 9 min
Animated strokes blend with live-action, when an immigrant artist encounters a new muse who helps them make meaning in a new country.

Four Holes | Dir. Daniela Muñoz Barroso; 2023; Cuba, France; 20 min
Filmmaker and subject find common ground in this humorous portrait of Pepe, the mastermind behind a DIY golf course on the outskirts of Madrid.

Two Sun | Dir. Blair Barnes; 2024; USA; 5 min
A mood piece with its own rhythm, this evocative film explores the relationship to the self and our
ever-evolving understanding of identity.

Contractions | Dir. Lynne Sachs; 2024; USA; 12 min
Intimate confessions, paired with experimental choreography outside a woman’s clinic in Memphis, offer a glimpse into post Roe v. Wade America. (Plays in Shorts: Impossible Solution)

Producers Emily Berisso and Laura Goodman and Editor Anthony Svatek with Lynne Sachs at the Premiere of Contractions at True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri.

Lynne telling a Campfire Story at True / False Film Festival.


12 min., 2024

In the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade, “Contractions” takes us to Memphis, Tennessee where we contemplate the discontinuation of abortion services at a women’s health clinic. We listen to an obstetrician and a reproductive rights activist who movingly lay out these vital issues. We watch 14 women and their male allies who witness and perform with their backs to the camera. In a state where a woman can no longer make decisions about her own body, they can only “speak” with the full force of their collective presence.

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ended a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion in the United States. Twenty-one states now ban abortion outright or earlier in pregnancy than the standard set by Roe v. Wade, which governed reproductive rights for half a century. The woman’s health care facility in this film no longer offers abortions.

Intimate confessions, paired with experimental choreography outside a woman’s clinic in Memphis, offer a glimpse into post Roe v. Wade America.

Lynne Sachs

Dr. Kimberly Looney

SaBrenna Boggan
Chase Colling
Shana J. Crispin
Kimberly Hooper-Taylor
Coe Lapossy
A. Lloyd
Audrey May
Vanessa Mejia
Natalie Richmond
Krista Scott
Neal Trotter
J. Wright
Nubia Yasin

Emily Berisso
Laura Goodman
Lynne Sachs

Sean Hanley

Anthony Svatek
with assistance from Tiff Rekem

Studio recording
Doug Easley

Sound mix
Kevin T. Allen

True/ False Film Festival, Premiere, Columbia, Missouri Feb. 2024
Cosmic Rays Film Festival,  March 2024
Ann Arbor Film Festival, March 2024

Other Cinema: SISTERS’ PICTURES / Contractions


Utterly inspiring are the creative responses by US women artists–both individually and collectively– to last year’s deplorable dismantling of Roe Vs. Wade. Now, the opening half of our annual SisPix show is proud enough to boast a diverse selection of resonant pieces from contemporary female makers on a variety of women’s issues, tho we’re equally honored to dedicate the evening’s latter half to the initial group screening of the Abortion Clinic Film Collective‘s righteous howls of rage! So, in the first 40 mins. of (mostly) new work we’ll be treated to Salise Hughes‘ Big Daddy Learns a LessonSabine Gruffat‘s Move or Being MovedChristina Ibarra‘s Dirty Laundry, Kate Novack‘s Hysterical Girl, and more! Then our second block sets out to amplify the angry voices and visions of of a newly developing network of fierce feminists producing protest pieces to rally our will to resist the retrograde forces raiding our hard-won rights. Among that cadre is Lynne SachsSasha Freyer WatersKristy Guevara-FlanaganRay ReaDoan Hoang Curtis…and more coming in! $10-100 fund-raiser for the Ntl. Network of Abortion Funds non-profit. Celebrate Women’s History Month!



Coming Soon to Chelsea Theater

57 mins | Rated TBC | Short Film

The COSMIC RAYS FILM FESTIVAL is an annual celebration of short films that expand our idea of what film is and what it can be.

The Festival presents several programs of short films made by filmmakers from North Carolina and around the world that are formally inventive; speak with a personal voice; and are inspired by the possibilities of film as art.


Rituals to ward off the demons or lead us through the abyss. Incantations in the face of dropped frames and radioactivity. If the choice is between love or religion, what are you waiting for?

Ashes of Rose
Sasha Waters, 2023
RT: 11:30 minutes

Her Backyard / My Front Window
Billy Palumbo, 2023
RT: 3:36 minutes

Hey Sweet Pea
Alee Peoples, 2023
RT: 4:08 minutes

Three Mystics
Ioanna Filippopoulou, 2023
RT: 8:34 minutes

We’ll Go Down The Abyss in Silence
Vincent Guilbert, 2023
RT: 11:00 minutes

Richard Ashrowan, 2023
RT: 3:22 minutes

Deborah Stratman, 2023
RT: 3:00minutes

Poem For Three Voices
Lan Anh Chu, 2023
RT: 02:44 minutes

Lynne Sachs, 2024
RT: 10:00 minutes

Total Runtime: 57 minutes