Tag Archives: Drift and Bough

Kino Rebelde to Represent Lynne Sachs’ Catalogue Internationally

http://www.kinorebelde.com/kino2020/lynne-sachs-retrospective/

Kino Rebelde has created a retrospective that traces a delicate line connecting intimacy, power relations, violence, memory, migration, desire, love, and war in Lynne’s films. By looking at each of these works, we can see a director facing her own fears and contradictions, as well as her sense of friendship and motherhood.  Moving from idea to emotion and back again, our retrospective takes us on a journey through Sachs’ life as a filmmaker, beginning in 1986 and moving all the way to the present.

With the intention of allowing her work to cross boundaries, to interpret and to inquire into her distinctive mode of engaging with the camera as an apparatus for expression, we are delighted to present 37 films that comprise the complete filmmography, so far, of Lynne Sachs as visual artist and filmmaker. Regardless of the passage of time, these works continue to be extremely contemporary, coherent and radical in their artistic conception.


About Kino Rebelde

Kino Rebelde is a Sales and Festival Distribution Agency created by María Vera in early 2017. Its exclusively dedicated to promotion of non-fiction cinema, hybrid narratives and experimental.

Based on the creative distribution of few titles by year, Kino Rebelde established itself as a “boutique agency”, working on a specialized strategy for each film, within its own characteristics, market potential, niches and formal and alternative windows.

This company supports short, medium and long feature films, from any country, with linear or non-linear narratives. They can be in development or WIP, preferably in the editing stage.

The focus: author point of view, pulse of stories, chaos, risk, more questions, less answers, aesthetic and politic transgression, empathy, identities, desires and memory.

Kino Rebelde was born in Madrid, but as its films, this is a nomadic project. In the last years María has been living in Lisbon, Belgrade and Hanoi and she’ll keep moving around.

About María Vera

Festival Distributor and Sales Agent born in Argentina. Founder of Kino Rebelde, a company focused on creative distribution of non-fiction, experimental and hybrid narratives.

Her films have been selected and awarded in festivals as Berlinale, IFFR Rotterdam, IDFA, Visions Du Réel, New York FF, Hot Docs, Jeonju IFF, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Sarajevo FF, Doclisboa and Viennale, among others.

María has a background as producer of socio-political and human rights contents as well as a film curator.Envelope

vera@kinorebelde.com


Lynne Sachs (1961) is an American filmmaker and poet living in Brooklyn, New York. Her moving image work ranges from documentaries, to essay films, to experimental shorts, to hybrid live performances.

Working from a feminist perspective, Lynne weaves together social criticism with personal subjectivity. Her films embrace a radical use of archives, performance and intricate sound work. Between 2013 and 2020, she collaborated with renowned musician and sound artist Stephen Vitiello on five films.

Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in each new project.

Between 1994 and 2009, Lynne directed five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany – sites affected by international war – where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own perception. 

Over the course of her career, she has worked closely with film artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Ernie Gehr, Barbara Hammer, Chris Marker, Gunvor Nelson, and Trinh T. Min-ha.

Lynne Sachs and Stephen Vitiello Program at the LA Film Forum

Lynne Sachs & Stephen Vitiello: Sound Engagements – Program 1: Four Films

https://www.lafilmforum.org/schedule/winter-2021/lynne-sachs-four-films-with-stephen-vitiello/

Los Angeles Filmforum presents

Lynne Sachs & Stephen Vitiello: Sound Engagements

Part 1: Four Films

Films Screening February 12-22, 2021


Live Q&A with Lynne Sachs on Friday, February 19, 7:00 pm PST (10:00 pm EST) by Zoom

Conversation with Lynne Sachs and Stephen Vitiello moderated by musician and music critic Sasha Frere-Jones on Sunday February 21, 5:00 pm PST (8:00 pm EST) by Zoom

Online via Los Angeles Filmforum

Filmforum is delighted to kick off 2021 by welcoming back our friend Lynne Sachs with her new film and several past works, all of which include original music by sound artist Stephen Vitiello.

“In collaborating on the soundtracks for my films, Stephen Vitiello somehow recognizes the interior sounds of objects and releases them for us to hear. Together his music and his sound designs push audiences toward a new way of experiencing cinema.” – Lynne Sachs

In these two programs, Los Angeles Filmforum explores the seven-year collaborative relationship between filmmaker Lynne Sachs and sound artist Stephen Vitiello.

Admission will include receiving links to both Zoom conversations!

Four films are covered by this admission, which is on a sliding scale, and which takes you to a screening room set up by Canyon Cinema. You also get a free link to the live Q&A with Lynne on Friday February 19 and the tripartite conversation on Sunday Feb 21.!

Ticketing for Four Films: Sliding Scale, $0 for members, $5 for students, $8, $12, $20

at https://lynnesachs4films.bpt.me

We hope that, if your means allow, you might go for $20, as you will be getting to see 4 wonderful films and attend two discussions!

Film About a Father Who is distributed by Cinema Guild, and has its own virtual cinema admission charge, listed on its own Filmforum webpage at https://www.lafilmforum.org/schedule/winter-2021/film-about-a-father-who/

Special Thanks to Brett Kashmere, Canyon Cinema, Tom Sveen, Cinema Guild.

Films by Lynne Sachs with music and sound design by Stephen Vitiello

2013 – 2020

Biographies:

Lynne Sachs is a filmmaker and a poet born in Memphis, Tennessee but living in Brooklyn, New York. Her work explores the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together text, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with every new project. Her work ranges from the very personal, as in her early experiments that are reminiscent of Bruce Connor’s found footage films and Chris Marker’s essay films, to documentary, as in her film on the Catonsville Nine’s antiwar-activism in Investigation of a Flame. Lynne discovered her love of filmmaking while living in San Francisco where she worked closely with film artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, George Kuchar, and Trinh T. Min-ha. Between 1994 and 2006, she produced five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, 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.

Sachs has made 37 films, which have screened at the New York Film Festival, Sundance, Oberhausen, Viennale, BAMCinemaFest, Vancouver Film Festival, DocLisboa and many others nationally and internationally. They have also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, Wexner Center for the Arts and other venues. The Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Festival International Nuevo Cine in Havana, China Women’s Film Festival and Sheffield Documentary Festival have all presented retrospectives of Lynne’s films. She received a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in the Arts. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press published Lynne’s first collection of poetry, Year by Year Poems. Lynne lives in Brooklyn with filmmaker Mark Street. Together, they have two daughters, Maya and Noa Street-Sachs. www.lynnesachs.com


Stephen Vitiello is an electronic musician and sound artist who transforms incidental atmospheric noises into mesmerizing soundscapes that alter our perception of the surrounding environment. He has composed music for independent films, experimental video projects and art installations, collaborating with such artists as Nam June Paik, Tony Oursler and Dara Birnbaum. Solo and group exhibitions include MASS MoCA, The High Line, NYC, and the Museum of Modern Art.  https://www.stephenvitiello.com/
Solo exhibitions include All Those Vanished Engines, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2011-(ongoing)); A Bell For Every Minute, The High Line, NYC (2010-2011); More Songs About Buildings and Bells, Museum 52, New York (2011); and Stephen Vitiello, The Project, New York (2006). He has participated in such group exhibitions as Soundings: A Contemporary Score, Museum of Modern Art, NY (2013); Sound Objects: Leah Beeferman and Stephen Vitiello, Fridman Gallery, New York (2014); September 11, PS 1/MoMA, LIC, NY (2011-2012); the 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006); Yanomami: Spirit of the Forest at the Cartier Foundation, Paris; and the 2002 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002). Vitiello has performed nationally and internationally, at locations such as the Tate Modern, London; the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival; The Kitchen, New York; and the Cartier Foundation, Paris. In 2011, ABC-TV, Australia produced the documentary Stephen Vitiello: Listening With Intent. Awards include Creative Capital (2006) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2011-2012). Vitiello is a professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University. He lives and works in Richmond, Virginia.  


Sasha Frere-Jones is a writer and musician from New York.

Los Angeles Filmforum screenings are supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts & Culture, the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the Wilhelm Family Foundation, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.


The Washing Society
Directed by Lynne Sachs and Lizzie Olesker
2018, color, sound, 44 min.
When you drop off a bag of dirty laundry, who’s doing the washing and folding?  The Washing Society brings us into New York City laundromats and the experiences of the people who work there by observing these disappearing neighborhood spaces and the continual, intimate labor that happens there. The juxtaposition of narrative and documentary elements in THE WASHING SOCIETY creates a dream-like, yet hyper-real portrayal of a day in the life of a laundry worker, both past and present.

“The legacy of domestic work, the issues surrounding power, and the exchange of money for services are all potent themes which rise to the surface and bubble over in dramatic, thrilling escalations of the everyday.” – Brooklyn Rail

“Spotlights the often-invisible workers who fold the clothes, maintain the machines and know your secrets.” – In These Times

Featuring: Jasmine Holloway, Veraalba Santa, and Ching Valdes-Aran
Cinematography: Sean Hanley, Editiing: Amanda Katz

Trailer:  http://www.lynnesachs.com/2017/08/23/the-washing-society/

Drift and Bough”
2014, Super 8mm on Digital, B&W, sound, 6 min.
Sachs spends a winter morning in Central Park shooting film in the snow. Holding her Super 8mm camera, she takes note of graphic explosions of dark and light and an occasional skyscraper. The stark black lines of the trees against the whiteness create the sensation of a painterʼs chiaroscuro. Woven into this cinematic landscape, we hear sound artist Stephen Vitielloʼs delicate yet soaring musical track which seems to wind its way across the frozen ground, up the tree trunks to the sky.

Tip of My Tongue
2017, color, sound, 80 min.
“To mark her 50th birthday, filmmaker Lynne Sachs gathers a group of her contemporaries—all New Yorkers but originally hailing from all corners of the globe—for a weekend of recollection and reflection on the most life-altering personal, local, and international events of the past half-century, creating what Sachs calls ‘a collective distillation of our times.’ Interspersed with poetry and flashes of archival footage, this poignant reverie reveals how far beyond our control life is, and how far we can go despite this.” — Kathy Brew, Museum of Modern Art

“A mesmerizing ride through time, a dreamscape full of reflection, filled with inspired use of archival footage, poetry, beautiful cinematography and music. Raises the question of how deeply events affect us, while granting us enough room to crash into our own thoughts, or float on by, rejoicing in the company of our newfound friends.”  — Screen Slate, Sonya Redi

“A beautiful, poetic collage of memory, history, poetry, and lived experience, in all its joys, sorrows, fears, hopes, triumphs, and tragedies … rendered in exquisite visual terms, creating an artful collective chronicle of history.” Christopher Bourne, Screen Anarchy

Trailer:   http://www.lynnesachs.com/2017/04/25/tip-of-my-tongue/

Featuring: Dominga Alvarado, Mark Cohen, Sholeh Dalai, Andrea Kannapell, Sarah Markgraf, Shira Nayman, George Sanchez, Adam Schartoff, Erik Schurink, Accra Shepp, Sue Simon, Jim Supanick

Cinematography: Sean Hanley

Editing: Amanda Katz

Your Day is My Night
2013, HD video and live performance, color, sound, 64 min.
Immigrant residents of a “shift-bed” apartment in the heart of New York City’s Chinatown share their stories of personal and political upheaval. As the bed transforms into a stage, the film reveals the collective history of the Chinese in the United States through conversations, autobiographical monologues, and theatrical movement pieces. Shot in the kitchens, bedrooms, wedding halls, cafés, and mahjong parlors of Chinatown, this provocative hybrid documentary addresses issues of privacy, intimacy, and urban life.

“A strikingly handsome, meditative work: a mixture of reportage, dreams, memories and playacting, which immerses you in an entire world that you might unknowingly pass on the corner of Hester Street, unable to guess what’s behind the fifth-floor windows.” -The Nation

In Chinese, English & Spanish with English Subtitles.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Pks0_IRHek

Featuring: Yi Chun Cao, Linda Y.H. Chan, Chung Qing Che, Ellen Ho, Yun Xiu Huang, Sheut Hing Lee, Kam Yin Tsui, & Veraalba Santa.

Camera by Sean Hanley and Ethan Mass

Winner, Best Feature Documentary, San Diego Asian Film Festival, 2013 * Winner, Best Feature Film, Workers Unite! Film Festival, 2013 * Winner, Best Experimental Film, Traverse City Film Festival, 2013

“Drift and Bough” screens Urban Research on Film (Berlin) – “spectra of space”

Urban Research on Film
“spectra of space”
Directors Lounge – contemporary art and media – Berlin
October 27, 2016
http://urban-research.eu/DL2016/framesUR-Spectra.html

directors lounge monthly screenings

The idea of scale in architectural contemplations reflects on the meaning of the space, also scale connects with urban topology and contemporary ideas of social geography. Social, political, or personal impacts may be seen differently if seen from different point of views: looking from a global, national, municipal, personal, community-based or journalistic point of view.

These new films create spatial contemplations or film essays from Chicago, San Francisco, Berlin, New York, Canada, from a historical literature connection (Kerouac) or even the virtual space of a Si-Fi film series.

The screening presents a diversity of films connected with architecture, urban space and landscape from documentary to experimental, and will create an interesting visual dialogue about urban space in film.

Urban Research is a film and video program curated since 2006 by Klaus W. Eisenlohr during the Berlin International Directors Lounge festival. Urban Research encompasses explorations of public space, reports of the conditions of urban life and interventions in the urban sphere realized by international film and video artists using experimental, documentary, abstract or fictive forms.

The films of this Urban Research selection revolve around visions of the future city, recent and current movements and developments that take their expression in public spaces, urban studies and metaphoric images dealing with urban life. The mix of experimental and more documentary styles complement each other and create a diversity of connected ideas about urban life.

PROGRAM:

Sylva Fern
Scales in the Spectrum of Space 7:21 US 2015
Commissioned by the Chicago Film Archive and in collaboration with jazz musician Phil Cohran, Scales in the Spectrum of Space explores the documented histories of urban life and architecture in Chicago. Silva samples 35 films and creates a glimpse into the collective memory of the city.

David de Rozas
They want to give it a name 8:45 US 2014
They Want to Give it a Name observes a public open call process to name a plaza in the city of San Francisco. The film explores how the urban space is negotiated by the relationships that a naming process has with history and the collective physique. They Want to Give it a Name inquires a process of governing the subjectivities that inhabits the city.

Lynne Sachs
Drift and Bough 6:35 US 2014
New York Central Park in the midst of winter. A private view onto the contained nature of the most famous park of New Your City.

Hans Georg Esch
Airport Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt 4:49 DE 2014
A commissioned architectural view onto the new Berlin airport still in progress.

Rhayne Vermette
Les Châssis de Lourdes 18:22 CA 2016
“while many architects through their time have sought a ‘true house’ or a ‘true architecture’, their truth was something of the past and not so true in the present [Š] here architecture is a child of the sea, arose from its substanceŠ” ? Gio Ponti

At the age of 32, I finally ran away from home. Dramatically, I left with only my cat and copies of all the still and motion images taken by my father.

LJ Frezza
The Neutral Zone 4:54 US 2015
A screenshot series highlighting the utopias of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994).

Benna
short movie #2 6:52 IT
The shadows of people on the street seem to reveal an uncanny secret about them.

Wolfgang Thies
From Daraa to Berlin 17:47, DE 2016
Cold rain. Sleeping bags on the pavement in front of the entrance. Behind mud to wade through. Meter- wide puddles. Crowd barriers. Hundreds of men in bathing- slippers, heads and shoulders under plastic tarpaulins. One container for x- rays, another with spilling toilets. Berlin, October 2015. The Central Registry for Refugees, the Regional Office for Health and Social Affairs Berlin, in short Lageso. A young man from Syria reports, why he fled to Germany and how he experiences the situation here in the capital.

Luis Valdovino and Dan Boord
Not Enough Night 7:50 US 2008
The Longmont Colorado gas station that Jack Kerouac wrote about in “On the Road” was moved twice to protect it from certain destruction. Our present day bulldozes the past to make room for quaint condominiums and homes that pretend to be part of an American yesteryear of cottages and town squares.

“Not Enough Night” is a swan song for bygone hipsters, who longed for more “life” amid the coming storm of the post-World War II suburbs, shopping malls and the lonely existence of the solitary consumer.

This work commemorates the passing of the fiftieth year since the publication of “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac and “The Americans” by Robert Frank.’

Seannon Nichols on Lynne Sachs’ “Experience Cinema”

Seannon Nichols
Final Paper/Exam
COM 450 Experimental Cinema: History and Theory
November 18, 2014

Lynne Sachs: Prescribing the Cure to Existential Crises by Utilizing ‘Experience Cinema’ as a means to partake in, and showcase organically produced affirming moments in nature through Drift and Bough (2014), Georgic for a Forgotten Planet (2008), Photograph of the Wind (2001), and Tornado (2001).

            Viewing what one wishes to see or thinks about in their minds eye is something that was once only possible in dreams. However dreams were made into realities when the camera was invented. Since the first camera was used, it is clear that representations of ideas can be shared and experienced by anyone who seeks them. The people behind these ideas are the filmmakers. Filmmakers are a sum of their experiences. Experiences shape how they do things, how they think, what they feel, and why they are here. The difference between filmmakers and every one else is that they chose to represent all these things in their work. They chose to share the sum of their parts.

Depending on the filmmaker there usually are different parts, so the sum doesn’t always add up to the same thing. This is especially true in avant-garde or experimental filmmakers. Every avant-grade filmmaker has a unique way of expressing themselves. Avant-garde by definition means not of the norm, before anything ordinary they exist.

The one who speaks to the tortured soul in all of us is Lynne Sachs. Sachs is a self defined experimental filmmaker. Sachs, born August 10th, 1961, originally from Tennessee, now she works primarily out of New York. She is a mom and filmmaker, a lot of the time combining the two in her works. When asked why she used so many different kinds of art in her films and if thats why she considered herself experimental she responded in saying “Honestly, I sometimes feel like a scientist working with materials that are simultaneously familiar and exotic.  When I juxtaposed a home movie of my fourth birthday with an image of a black widow spider in my film “The House of Science”, I was experimenting with meaning, making suggestions about the connections between childhood and fear.  I didn’t know if my “experiment” worked until I activated it with an audience. I’ve never been attracted to the kind of filmmaking that necessitates that you follow a formula for writing a script.  The idea that there is a software template, for example, that screenwriters use to create a narrative film disturbs me to my very core.  Each time I come up with an idea for a new film, I have to try out new ways of using a camera, which might seem as basic as it gets. I play with the technology as much as a feature filmmaker plays with her story.  In an experimental film, the form and the content are essentially strangers who eventually will become the dearest of friends.  Finding the chemistry for this new “relationship” pushes the experimental filmmaker to invent, play, take risks, fail and get right back up again.”

Her work is her life and in order to understand her work you need to understand her influences. In an interview I conducted with Sachs she expressed to me that her style and influences come from a plethora of directors such as “Chris Marker, Chantal Ackerman, Bruce Conner, Stan Brakhage, Haron Farocki, Holis Frampton, and so many others!” She also expressed to me upon my probing that Su Friedrich is one of her many influences. I had noticed a similarity in style with them when I had made the comparison of the two in my own critical review. Then subsequently, when asked wether I was correct in the similarities she responded by telling me “Su’s early films were extremely influential to me. Her oneiric “Gently Down the Stream” seemed to have been spit right out of a dream she had the night before she made the film. When I saw that film, I was awed by the closeness she had to her unconscious.  Later, I saw “Sink or Swim” and was enthralled with her ability to tell such an intimate story about her relationship to her father while she was growing up.  Throughout her career, there has always been an implicit confidence in the ability of women to find their way in the world and to express this journey from a specifically female perspective. This is in and of itself a political position that resonates with me.  Both of us often intertwine autobiography with observations of the world around us.” Her obvious pull towards feministic ideals along with her desire to tell intimate stories about the relationships between objects and people and between people themselves came from all these influences. The focus and connection I’m demonstrating will be Stan Brakhage’s penetration through her work.

It is said that “Brakhage’s work… required nothing less than a radical revision of the conditions of cinematic representation and the rejection, in practice, of its codes… which entailed both a redefinition of the space of cinematic representation, and the institution, through speed and validity of editing… and bodily movement traced by a handheld camera. (Michelson, pp. 113)” He revolutionized what filmmakers could do with cameras and subscribed to no rules and regulations. His painting directly on celluloid and scratching on celluloid (Sitney), created a whole new way to view film and relay messages which opened a completely new door for linguistics. Many filmmakers following him chose to walk through that door, including Su Friedrich. Like Friedrich and many other using linguistics in film had become a popular fashion and Sachs jumped on that train as well. Her love of the written word was present before her love of filmmaking, especially when it comes to poetry. In our interview she mentioned “When I decided to become a filmmaker, I never had to abandon my poetry writing…” It is vital to her artistic expression and to her representation of relationships and their meanings.

Lynne Sachs filmography as a whole stretches far and wide across genres and themes. Some themes that seem particularly important and relevant within her works are nature, relationships, and organically produced joy. Thus comes my interpretations of some of her best works. Lynne Sachs, contemporary avant-garde filmmaker, showcases and manufactures ‘experience cinema’ by showing atmospheres where audiences are saturated in overwhelming organic sensations, thereby exploring existentialism as it as a means to deter existential crises or as it applies to every day life, which can be seen in her films Drift and Bough (2014), Georgic for a Forgotten Planet (2008), Photograph of the Wind (2001), and Tornado (2001).

In order to fully understand the assertion of Sachs’ films as an aide to existentialism through ‘experience cinema’ I must explain those two concepts. To start, existentialism. Existentialism as most clearly defined, in the way that I am referring to it, is a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of will. Earlier it is said that Sachs films can be used as a way to deter existential crises. Now that we know what existentialism is we need to determine what one does when they are suffering from a crisis of the theory. Normally that type of crisis is defined as one where an individual may waver on their meaning in the world, wether their particular life serves any purpose, or makes any true impact on this existence.

Next, one must understand the term “experience cinema.” “Experience Cinema” is a kind of cinema that I was seeing in some filmmakers pieces but had no term for it specifically. It is something that is not present in every film and that all filmmakers cannot achieve. I do believe it is possible to try and write a scene that is considered experience cinema but for the most part the cinematographer or directors needs to find or produce it. The clearest way it can be explained is something that happens in a scene or throughout a film, when your whole body becomes enraptured with a character, a setting, a sensation, a particular visual, because they touch upon everyone of your senses. Sachs’ films, the ones I chose in particular demonstrate this with every ticking second. She understands how to perfect an image with a camera and incorporate different stylistic types of art to make a perfect recipe of cinematic sensations that occupy the viewer so that it becomes four dimensional. Our brains make it real. I will start explaining more clearly what I mean with the aforementioned films by Lynne Sachs, in order to supply sufficient evidence that experimental cinema demonstrates itself as proof that we are here and by enjoying life’s organically produced moments there is no need to have existential crises.

Drift and Bough (2014) was made by Sachs in central park in New York City during a particularly aggressive snowstorm. This black and white film shot in super 8mm is a six minute film that opens on a partially covered empire state building and sweeps down to the ground, as if to follow the elegantly aggressive white snow falling to the park. The harsh winter winds blow through the trees and covers the rambles. It’s covering the people and the benches, covering whoever and wherever it wants, even the ducks trying to make their way through the frozen pond. It is clear it is snowing heavily and fast and you can experience how cold it is when the frozen people, all bundled up in their winter’s best, waddle by. The branches of the trees hang low from the weight of the snow and they struggle against the winds, as do the birds who group together trying to avoid this storm that ravages around them. When the storm finally calms we see a child heading up a hill with a sled enjoying the calm after the storm. A dog joyously celebrates his new snow covered park along with a people in a bike carriage enjoying the fresh fallen snow. As you can see by the representations of forceful nature and the pure joy experienced by its surroundings and individuals who realize that the anger of mother nature calmed to beauty, they are really living. When the film is played backwards in the middle after the storm has stopped all the previous images of the cold ducks and the snow heavy trees take on a different connotation. One that appreciates winter and what we have. That togetherness and the simple beauty of snow is a reason to be glad that we are here. Experience cinema has given the viewer harsh cold, relief, joy, Childish excitement, beauty, purity, and music that stirs the soul and looked to stir the snow.

Georgic for a Forgotten Planet (2008) is a film about wildlife in central park. When interviewing Sachs she told me in this film “I love working with plants or finding the biomorphic in inanimate things.  Living in New York City, I probably don’t get enough pure living, so I try to make up for that by weaving in images of gardens or trees or water in my films. “Georgic for a Forgotten Planet” was shot in community gardens around the city and the title comes from Virgil’s Georgics, which were poems to agricultural written in 29 B.C.E.” The interweaving in the film with this eerily centric music accompanied by street noises and organic plant life and human interaction, including Sachs change of camera lens, makes this whole piece feel raw and gentle. The scene where she shoots up at the dandelions and weeds and accompanied by trucks and airplanes over head makes it clear that these simple plant pleasures are being missed by the busy world around it. She demonstrates this again by the editing of one shot during the busy street over the ignored plant life. Her homage to joyous organic moments, the bee pollenating the plant while a child plays and then the coming of water, all rounds out they joy one could find in life is one only appreciated it. There would be no need to internalize frustration about why we are here if you appreciated the joy of whats in front of you. The way she places the camera in nature makes one reflect back to brakhage and his many treks through the colorado forest. “I have always loved the way Brakhage creates abstract images from the flora and fauna that surrounded him in Colorado” Sachs says. Her inspiration to capture and influences from his work is apparent. When Sachs wrote a paper about Brakhage and his work on Window Baby Water Moving she comments that “Brakhage’s images have clearly touched me personally, aesthetically, and intellectually as a mother and as a maker of experimental films (Sachs, pp. 194).” Clearly his influence reaches far and deep and those struggle to appreciate the world and their purpose in it have Sachs and Brakhage to thank for the release they might find in their works.

Next is Photograph of the Wind andTornado (2001). Photograph of the Wind is a work in black and white that follows Sachs’ daughter Maya, named after Maya Deren, spinning around her running in a circle creating wind in her hair. In the description of the video Sachs said “ As I watch her growing up, spinning like a top around me, I realize that her childhood is not something I can grasp but rather (like the wind) something I feel tenderly brushing across my cheek.” Clearly speaking in terms she was unfamiliar with at the time, this is exactly experimental cinema doing its job. Feeling the wind whip through her daughters hair, and sensing the turn of a top as you spin round and round. Sachs’ herself had a realization of existentialism. She was here forever trying to hold on to the childhood of her daughter finally realizing like the wind its something she cannot grasp but has to appreciate.

In Tornado (2001) Lynne shows the charred remains of papers that were destroyed after September 11th, and twin towers were crashed into. It coincides with a poem about tornadoes and how they destroy everything in its path. What makes this film so important, and in my opinion the best of her experience cinema films is the hands that hold the charred and ripped papers. They are wrinkled and smooth and you can hear them rustling with themselves and scratching along the paper, as if to say these pages may be broken but I still remain whole. These works are all representative or productions of experience cinema they make you feel and have reaffirmations of life. They affirm our existence they represent creation. Audience experience why they exist. They aide in those who question it.

These representations can be seen in popular cinema as well. One of the films I find most representation of experimental cinema and existentialism, which in hollywood cinema seems to be produced in americana crises, is American Beauty. This film tells the story of Lester Burnham who lived his suburban life in a daze and one day is awoken to find he hadn’t been experiencing life at all. Some might say he had a mid-life crisis. I believe he had a mid-life awakening and the way Sam Mendes represents this is through experience cinema. In particularly with the protagonist, there is a scene where he is fantasizing about a teenage girl Angela, and he walks into a steam filled bathroom and you can feel his heart race, and the wet sticky steam of the bathroom and the softness of the rose petals that lay in the water on top of Angela. This erotic metamorphous from a non sensational life into a full on orgasm of sensational experiences shows his existential turmoil fading away with experience cinema. Another example in the film of experience cinema being used to explore existentialism is the scene where Ricky shows Jane his video of the most beautiful thing he’s ever shot, a plastic bag blowing in the wind. This video showcases how this epithelial object danced with the wind and no one appreciated the simplistic beauty but Ricky. He saw the beauty in real life. He was the only one of them that was truly living. Ricky woke everyone up. He was the savior of suburbia.

Another few pop culture films that deal with existentialism outright are Groundhog’s Day, when a weather man must relive groundhog’s day over and over and over again until he is living a true and happy life. Another few are The Truman Show, I Heart the Huckabees and Fight Club. Now Fight Club more so represents than some of the others because the main character Tyler Durdin is a projection of Edward Norton’s subconscious to preform his desired actions. His life was already in an existential crisis. It takes him the whole movie to figure it out, but he is having one nonetheless. These subsequent films use different idioms to resurrect existential crises but they serve the purpose to show that this genre of self doubt is one that is still relevant even in fields that aren’t experimental.

In conclusion, Lynne Sachs as an experimental filmmaker is one to be admired. Her films do more than just entertain, they reach through the screen and enrapture your senses with experimental cinema. Wether she is citing beautiful poetry or overlaying bohemian experimental music over her images, you feel their power. They affirm why we are here. What their is on this earth for individuals to appreciate. We do not need to feel lost or purposeless, there is joy everywhere. Every organism matters. Lynne Sachs shows us that.

 

Bibliography

Deutsch, J. (2004). Maya Deren and the American Avant-garde.       American Studies In  ternational, 42(1), 132-133. Retrieved        from http://search.proquest.com.esearch.ut.edudocview/             197130140accountid=1476

Drift and Bough. Dir. Lynne Sachs. 2014. DVD.

Fincher, David, Arnon Milchan, Jim Uhls, Art Linson, Ceán Chaffin, Ross G. Bell, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Carter H. Bonham, Loaf Meat, Jared Leto, Zach Grenier, Holt McCallany, Eion Bailey, Michael Kaplan, James Haygood, Alex McDowell, and Jeff Cronenweth. Fight Club. Beverly Hills, Calif: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2002.

Georgic for a Forgotten Planet. Dir. Lynne Sachs. 2008. DVD.

Mendes, Sam, Alan Ball, Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, Kevin Spacey,           Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Wes Bent               ley, and Chris Cooper. American Beauty. Universal             City, CA: DreamWorks Home Entertainment, 2000.

Michelson, Annette. “Stan Brakhage (1933-2003).” October 108       (2004): 112-115. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Dec.          2014.

Niccol, Andrew, and Peter Weir. The Truman Show. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures, 1999.

Photograph of the Wind. Dir. Lynne Sachs. 2001. DVD.

Pierson, Michele. “Avant-Garde Re-Enactment: World Mirror Cinema,Decasia, and The Heart of the World.” Cinema Journal         49.1 (2009):1-19. JSTOR. Web. 27 Oct. 2014. <                 http://www.jstor.org/stable/25619742>.

Rabinowitz, Paula. “Medium Uncool: Women Shoot Back; Feminism,          Film and 1968 — A Curious Documentary.” Science & Society          65.1 (2001):72-98. JSTOR. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.                  <http://www.jstor.org/stable/40403885>.

Ramis, Harold, Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott,        Stephen Tobolowsky, and Brian Doyle-Murray. Groundhog Day.         Burbank, Calif: Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1993.

Russell, David O, Jeff Baena, Gregory Goodman, Scott Rudin,        Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle          Huppert, Jude Law, Peter Deming, and Jon Brion. I [heart]          Huckabees. Los Angeles, CA: 20th    Century Fox Home Enter         tainment, 2004

Sachs, L. (2007). Thoughts on birth and brakhage. Camera Obscu          ra, (64)194-196. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.esearch.ut.edu/docview/217539662?accountid=14762

Tornado. Dir. Lynne Sachs. 2001.

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FULL INTERVIEW
1. What influences, as far as directors, do you have when you do your work?
I have been inspired by Chris Marker, Chantal Ackerman, Bruce Conner, Stan Brakhage, Haron Farocki, Holis Frampton, and so many others!
2. You tend to use many different forms of art in your filmmaking, like collage, painting, and layered sound deign, in your works, why did you decide to use all these forms instead of just shooting? Is that what experimental is to you?
For me, each film needs to search for its own language of expression, and this creative journey is never mapped out ahead of time. I love using my camera, of course, but I also find the dialogue between the moving image and other artistic forms to be quite unpredictable and, therefore exciting. When I decided to become a filmmaker, I never had to abandon my poetry writing or my love of collage and painting. My work in sound came more recently, as I discovered that the aural dimension invited audiences to participate more freely with the cinematic moment.

 

  1. If not what about your work defines it as experimental cinema?
    I really love that you are curious about the word experimental. Honestly, I sometimes feel like a scientist working with materials that are simultaneously familiar and exotic. When I juxtaposed a home movie of my fourth birthday with an image of a black widow spider in my film “The House of Science”, I was experimenting with meaning, making suggestions about the connections between childhood and fear. I didn’t know if my “experiment” worked until I activated it with an audience. I’ve never been attracted to the kind of filmmaking that necessitates that you follow a formula for writing a script. The idea that there is a software template, for example, that screenwriters use to create a narrative film disturbs me to my very core. Each time I come up with an idea for a new film, I have to try out new ways of using a camera, which might seem as basic as it gets. I play with the technology as much as a feature filmmaker plays with her story. In an experimental film, the form and the content are essentially strangers who eventually will become the dearest of friends. Finding the chemistry for this new “relationship” pushes the experimental filmmaker to invent, play, take risks, fail and get right back up again.

4. One of the reason I like Su Friedrich’s work is because it uses narrative form and documentary form with interviews as well as makes commentary, you tend to use political issues to make social commentary like your recent work Your Day is My Night, but use the same kind of form. Is this what you’re really passionate about or what inspired you to do this work? Did Su Friedrich’s Style have any influence?
Su’s early films were extremely influential to me. Her oneiric “Gently Down the Stream” seemed to have been spit right out of a dream she had the night before she made the film. When I saw that film, I was awed by the closeness she had to her unconscious. Later, I saw “Sink or Swim” and was enthralled with her ability to tell such an intimate story about her relationship to her father while she was growing up. Throughout her career, there has always been an implicit confidence in the ability of women to find their way in the world and to express this journey from a specifically female perspective. This is in and of itself a political position that resonates with me. Both of us often intertwine autobiography with observations of the world around us.
5. Georgic for a Forgotten Planet, was inspired by poetry by relates heavily to nature, is nature something your passionate about, cause we see your connection to snow in Drift and Bough as well.
I love working with plants or finding the biomorphic in inanimate things. Living in New York City, I probably don’t get enough pure living, so I try to make up for that by weaving in images of gardens or trees or water in my films. “Georgic for a Forgotten Planet” was shot in community gardens around the city and the title comes from Virgils Georgics, which were poems to agricultural written in 29 B.C.E. I recently shot images of the People’s Climate March and hope to make a film with that material. “Drift and Bough” is simply a film I made in homage to Central Park, a natural wonder in the heart of the city where I find solace and joy. I shot the whole film during one snowstorm last winter.
6. Does this connection to nature  come from a Stan Brakhage influence and his wonderings in Colorado.
Another great question, I have always loved the way Brakhage creates abstract images from the flora and fauna that surrounded him in Colorado, but the again he was also able to create exquisite beauty from a crystal ashtray in his “Text of Light” (1979).
7. The other works I’m examining are Tornado and Photograph of the Wind. I was wondering if you use these banal objects like your daughters hair and the charred papers to demonstrate beauty in meaningless articles?
Years ago I made two films about objects in our lives – “Still Life with Woman and Four Objects” (1986) and “Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning” (1987), so you are so right. I like to determine how we as humans engage with the things in our lives. In “Tornado” (2002), I am reflecting on the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center as objects that sadly became anthropomorphized when they fell and “died”. In “Photograph of Wind” (2001), I think a viewer does feel the swoosh of the wind through the watching of my daughter’s hair swirling around the camera. Your comparison of these two films which both integrate my daughters is very astute.
8. I’m terming this effect that you show in your films as “Experience Cinema” Cinema that you feel in every shot wether its the cold of snow or the wind of your spinning daughter. Is this something that you try to express when you make your films?
Wow! I love your naming of my films as “Experience Cinema”. I am honored by this very sensitive and perceptive observation and frankly I never could have come up with this myself. If making films gives me and hopefully you this shift of awareness, then I can be happy about my practice as an artist. While I love words dearly, this non-verbal level of communication is vital work.
9. Lastly, is there anything pertinent about the above films I’ve mentioned that you think I should know in regards to influence or things you were thinking during development?
You are a wonderfully insightful and original thinker. There is nothing I would add to this gift you have given me.

 

Lynne Sachs: Disarming Drift by J. Ronald Green in Millennium Film Journal #60

MFJ60_cover-FINAL_4c-frontLynne Sachs: Disarming Drift
by J. Ronald Green
Millennium Film Journal #60
Fall, 2014

 http://www.mfj-online.org/

I have found several of Lynne Sachs’s films unusually disarming. Wind in Our Hair starts by just hanging out with four barely adolescent girls and seems to drift with them to no evident purpose; one is tempted to say that the attention and impressionistic, closely shot fascination comes from a mother’s affection that a general audience has little reason to feel. By the time a narrative event starts to shape the film, we sort of know these girls, or we start to feel that we are among them by way of the film’s stylistic drifting. A non-incisive drift transforms itself into a thickening bundle of barely perceptible but compelling discourses through which one finds oneself caring about the characters, not as individualized, biographical characters, but as female beings drifting toward a world that is itself drifting toward sexual and political fission, a fission that might be disastrous or revolutionary. The energy that would feed that fission is felt in the experimental music of Juana Molina that accompanies the transcendent avant-garde film poem of the end-credits—the drifting girls have suddenly exploded into articulate girl-power and woman music, just as the drifting Lynne Sachs-made film explodes into incisive experimental film. The stirring success of the music and of the film’s coda suggest a positive future for these drifting girls, while the discourses woven finely into their lives during the entire film remain frighteningly daunting.

There is an analogously disarming feel in Drift and Bough, though it is a totally different kind of film with no character development at all. There I was disarmed by the unassuming succession of art-photo shots of snowy Central Park, shots that seemed pretty ordinary, but that again gently drifted toward a richer collection of elements, such as the graphic lines that did things like scale shifting. The lines of duck trails through the ice-pack—lines that “drew” a kind of benign insinuation into a cold world—seemed to help effect an insinuation into my affect. By the time that film ends, I have been drawn, partially consciously, into a meditative state that I wanted to resist at its beginning. The ending—with people moving about and with bicycle taxi and camera both drifting to the right—was a break in that mood, but it still maintains some of the meditative mood through the realization that a barely perceptible superimposition of nothing very distinguishable has occurred mysteriously for the first and only time in the film.

The disarming feeling in Sachs’s films is especially strong in Your Day is My Night. Again the film starts by hanging out with some ordinary people, in this case Chinese immigrants in a confined space doing ordinary things. We gradually meet these people by name and hear them interact and tell stories. I won’t try to develop how that works, but will just say that somehow this ordinariness changes into—not just the liking and caring about the characters that one can see in numerous effective documentary films such as Salesman and Fallen Champ and The Square and American Pictures, or in the ur-documentary Nanook, and even the surreal Act of Killing—the ordinariness in Sachs’s film changes into something more than those films’ liking of or sympathizing with characters, something more like loving those characters, though that seems a bit strong.

My main point is the experience across several films of this imperceptible transformation from a disarming ordinariness to something strongly opposite. The kicker for me with Your Day is My Night was that I first experienced the film as a documentary, not as a scripted film with actors performing characters via learned lines; thus, my feeling of being disarmed extended to the ontology of the represented reality. That reversal of expectation, from something like Direct Cinema to a set of carefully researched and scripted performances—including the insertion of a “fake” character, Lourdes—comes at different points in the film for different viewers, but that doesn’t really change the reception structure of the film, or the films discussed above—they have little or no character or story arc but have a reception arc that moves one from being disarmed, even being uninterested and dubious, to something stronger than caring and understanding.

Sachs’s refusal to romanticize the glimpses of hopefulness, and her ending of the film with a quotation that re-affirms the power of the world’s alienation, are important contributions to the depth that the reception-arc achieves. Though the film finally leads into territory beyond the opening close-shots of packed human flesh, beyond the later medium-shots of crowded beds within crowded rooms, and the still later long-shots within crowded apartments within a crowded neighborhood of one of the world’s most crowded cities…though the film leads us beyond this over-determined within-ness to other, less impacted parts of the city, indeed leads us to a bridge that Lourdes—the outsider—introduces to Haung, one of the Chinatown shift-bedders—though the film takes us out there to that suggestively transitional bridge, nevertheless the viewer remembers what Haung has said earlier in the film that he has no benign means to get out of this life buried deep within the world situation. He will not ever be able to go home to see his children and he will have to kill himself when he reaches retirement age, perhaps by jumping off a bridge, he says. We remember that line when we see him on the bridge with Lourdes, but we also see that Lourdes has benignly infected his alienation, and has infected the entire over-determined within-ness of the characters’ lives and of the film’s structure. The deep within-ness of the characters’ situations has been broached by the character Lourdes, and by Sachs with her bizarre idea to make a film of these unknown Chinese and the more bizarre idea to introduce a Puerto Rican immigrant deep into this pervading within-ness; Lynne Sachs herself has infected the characters’ alienation, for real, by making this strange film, and thus Sachs opens the documentary people, who play themselves, to Sachs’s world and to the film’s audience. And she opens the viewer to a well-hidden within-ness, through documentary explorations that go deeper than Direct Cinema. All this in a way that is so disarming.

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