Tag Archives: film about a father who

In Celebration of the Darkness: What Can Happen When the Lights Are Out











In Celebration of the Darkness: What Can Happen When the Lights Are Out

by Lynne Sachs

I’ve been making personal, experimental documentary films since the late 1980s, beginning with Sermons and Sacred Pictures (1989) all the way through to The Washing Society (2018) – a total of 35 films, ranging in time from three to 83 minutes. Over the years, I have made non-fiction and hybrid works that continue to shift my point of view from shooting from the outside in, to shooting from the inside out. That is to say, I would make a few films that allowed me to “open the door” on a person, group of people or place that I knew little about in order to develop a deeper understanding through my filmmaking. Then, I would turn the camera back on myself and my immediate surroundings to produce more personal, introspective films.

This year, I completed Film About a Father Who, a feature-length film that I began shooting 35 years ago when I decided that the best way for me to come to terms with my relationship with my father, Ira Sachs, would be to witness his life, to record my interactions with him and his interactions with the world. Of course, I had no idea that it would take me so long to make this movie and that my own journey into adulthood and eventually motherhood would be reflected in the film as well. My father generously and unabashedly allowed me, and my brother, filmmaker Ira Sachs, Jr., to shoot with him anywhere and everywhere. Throughout the entire “production” period, I embraced 16 mm film, using the same used Bolex camera I purchased in 1987 for $400, every single time I saw my dad. In addition, I relied upon all forms of video tape and digital formats. Indeed, Film about a Father Who is an archeological record of our changing technology, relying upon: VHS camcorder videotape; Nagra 1⁄4” audio recorders; mini-DV, DSLR and Osmo cameras; Zoom digital recorders; and, cell phones.

I was born in the 1960s as were my sister Dana and my brother Ira. By the time I was 10 years old, my parents were divorced. In 1985, my father began what I’ll call a series of other family scenarios, with a new wife, and lots of girlfriends – both simultaneously and consecutively. There was no point in trying to keep count. By 1995, I had four new siblings; and by 2015, we became aware that there were two more secret sisters. I was already in the thick of making Film About a Father Who (I even had the title), but I had to find a way to shape my narrative to allow for all of these new, significant people.

At Thanksgiving 2017, I hired two professional camera people and a sound recordist to join me at my brother Ira’s apartment in New York City for the first ever gathering of all of my siblings. While everything else in the film is shot by someone in the family, I hoped that this formal “set up” would produce an anchor for the narrative, an opportunity for all of us to get to know each other better and to reveal our feelings about our father and his evolving family. We shot for four hours, and the experience was, for the most part, cathartic. But, as I looked through the footage with my editor Rebecca Shapass, we noticed that everyone was extremely aware of how I, in particular, responded to their words. Even a quiet sigh or a subtle raising of an eyebrow seemed to indicate to them what I was thinking. This, I believe, is a common scenario in documentary filmmaking, one that mirrors the dramatic paradigm in which actors look to directors for an affirmation that they have done a good job. It took me a year to accept that this singular, more contrived, scene was significant in terms of who was there in the same room, but did not take the film to the place I needed it to go. Throughout 2018, I either flew my siblings to Brooklyn or went to meet them where they live. In almost every case, I convinced my sisters and brothers to go into a completely darkened space with me. We often sat in closets. It was weird and very intimate. As I recorded their voices, resonating through my headphones, I knew I was listening to them in a deeper way than I had ever done before. There in the dark, they each accessed something new about our father that they had never articulated before.

Still, one of the biggest and most intimidating aspects of making this film was finding a way to translate my own interior thoughts – be they loving, rage-filled, compassionate or simply contradictory – about our father into a convincing, not too self-conscious voiceover narration. From the very beginning, I knew that Film About a Father Who would be an essay film that would include my own writing. One of the reasons the film took so long to make was that every time I sat down to put a pen to paper, I became intimidated by the process. I felt embarrassed by my anger, apologetic about my embarrassment, and frustrated by my awkward inability to accept the whole range of emotions I wanted to express. I also had no idea how to shape my newly discovered periods of bliss and confidence that I had found with my father, especially since I had given birth to my own daughters and was more insightful about the challenges of being a parent.

In January 2019, I had a three-week artist residency at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York. In my application, I explained that I had been working on one personal essay film, dare I say it, for most of my life, but that I needed a quiet, somewhat isolated place to write down my thoughts. I guess Yaddo thought it was a worthy endeavor, as they invited me to join about 12 other artists during that time. Lucky for me, I suppose, this was a particularly icy period in Upstate New York; taking long walks in the woods, as I had expected to do each day, was so risky that it was prohibited. I had no excuse but to write. For the first few days of the residency, I would diligently place my notebook on my empty desk, open it to the first available page, pull out my lovely fountain pen (which I hoped would inspire eloquence) and eventually write down a few words. Next, I would read the words – usually around 20 at most – over and over again. Then, I would scratch them out and start again. At least, I thought to myself, I am not using a computer where the Delete button beckons, seduces and devours. There were still traces, palimpsests of dwindling assertions and quotidian doubts.

After a few days of anguished horror vacui, I realized that this conventional, familiar way of writing was never going to work, at least for this film. As if like a flash of light, or a jolt of electricity, it dawned on me that I had other tools available that might help me to generate the words for which I was so desperately looking. At around 4:30 p.m., just as my dwelling in the woods was starting to get dark, I unpacked my Zoom audio recorder, put on my headphones, closed all the doors to remind myself that I had absolute privacy, plopped myself on my bed with a bunch of pillows, and began to speak into the microphone. At first, it felt awkward and humiliating, so there in the dark I decided to make myself feel even more alone. I closed my eyes and let go. I am a person who is, more often than not, consistently self-aware and polite. I say what I mean, but I sometimes cover up how I really feel with an acute attention to grammar and kindness. Now, in this funky isolation, this makeshift recording studio, this anything-goes-at-last sensation of solitude, I let loose and the words poured out. Over a period of 10 days, I recorded hours of material – oral histories, in a sense – that were generated by me as daughter, artist and director. To my surprise, I was actually able to apply the newly discovered “in the dark” approach to recording with my siblings to the way that I listened to my own thoughts. Since my editor Rebecca and I had already edited most of the visuals for the films, I was quite strategic and was able to produce a whole array of responses to specific scenes in our current work-in-process.

Of course, I knew that eventually I would need to transcribe all of the words I had spoken. In this high-tech, service-oriented world in which we all live, this part was easy. I emailed my audio files to a transcription service and within about 36 hours typed documents of an inchoate narration arrived in my email inbox. I spent the second half of my residency reading and editing my own words, almost as if they had been created by someone else. There, before me, almost magically, but then again not, was the skeleton for my film, the narration.

I actually believe that my enthusiasm for recording in the dark is an outgrowth of the current image-crazy culture in which we live. Each of us, in our own way, attempts to cultivate and control the various forms of media that feign to mirror who we are. By turning out the lights, we can begin to go beyond and below the epidermal, eventually connecting with and releasing our inner thoughts.


Slamdance Festival’s opening film features a daughter exploring her father’s secrets

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from the Salt Lake Tribune
by Sean P. Means
Jan. 19, 2020


Lynne Sachs had already been working as a filmmaker for several years, finding her voice in making personal documentaries, when in 1991 she decided to make a movie about her dad.
“I was interested in the ways you could know a person, and to articulate that in film,” Sachs said in a recent interview. “I definitely didn’t know where it was going to go. Or that it would take almost 30 years making it.”
Sachs’ long journey toward understanding her father, former Park City developer Ira Sachs, will reach a major milestone on Friday, Jan. 24, when her movie, “Film About a Father Who,” has its world premiere as the opening-night film of the 26th annual Slamdance Film Festival in Park City.
Slamdance, showcasing independent movies made for under $1 million, runs Jan. 24-31 at Park City’s Treasure Mountain Inn, parallel to the larger Sundance Film Festival.
Peter Baxter, co-founder and president of Slamdance, said programmers chose Sachs’ movie because it “reveals how far bloodlines can stretch without losing connection altogether. While Lynne provokes us into choosing between love and hate, she assuredly explores the degree to which one human can know another.”
When Sachs started the movie, she said, “I was keen on looking at my dad and figuring out what made him tick, and how that had an impact on me on the rest of the family.”
“If I’m engaging with my father through my art-making, and through my life as his daughter, [I thought] that there could be some kind of catharsis, and that I could explore it both artistically and intellectually, but also emotionally,” she said.
Early footage shows Ira Sachs at work as a real estate developer who had an extensive Real Estate Trailblazers portfolio and was splitting his time between Memphis, Tenn., and Park City. (One of his best-known properties in Park City was The Yarrow, the hotel now known as the DoubleTree by Hilton, at Kearns Boulevard and Park Avenue.)
Sachs started coming to Park City in the late ‘70s, but didn’t move there full-time until 1986 — when Lynne’s younger brother, Ira Sachs Jr., graduated from high school in Memphis.
“He was kind of ready to live in the mountains, ready to live somewhere where he could explore the land more and be a pioneer more,” Sachs said of her dad. “The West beckoned. … He never wanted to go to Aspen or Vail. He wanted to go somewhere that was rougher, that was kind of finding itself.”
“He was kind of ready to live in the mountains, ready to live somewhere where he could explore the land more and be a pioneer more,” Sachs said of her dad. “The West beckoned. … He never wanted to go to Aspen or Vail. He wanted to go somewhere that was rougher, that was kind of finding itself.”
Sachs and her Memphis-raised siblings would visit Park City, and she even recalls attending one of the early editions of the United States Film Festival (which is what Sundance was called before 1991).
Ira Jr. was inspired by the independent film festival atmosphere, and also became a filmmaker. Five of Ira Jr.’s movies have debuted at Sundance, and he won the Grand Jury Prize in 2005 for “Forty Shades of Blue,” which starred Rip Torn as an irascible music legend with a much-younger wife.
That movie was inspired by Ira Sr., who had divorced his first wife — Lynne and Ira Jr.’s mother, Diane — and married a younger woman, Diana. Ira Sr. had three children with each wife, and those siblings were the only ones Lynne Sachs knew about when she started making her documentary in 1991.
Later, she learned her dad had other girlfriends, two of whom had daughters, Beth and Julia, with Ira Sr. A ninth child, a daughter named Madison, was born later.
“How many families have discovered similar quote-unquote ’secrets’ to mine, but through science?” Lynne Sachs said. “In some ways, this story is unusual in that it doesn’t use DNA.”
In three decades of working on “Film About a Father Who,” the movie now “contains all of my whole emotional spectrum, which is a little bit scary,” Lynne Sachs said. When she showed the film to friends during editing, “they’d say, ‘You haven’t really reckoned with all your rage as a daughter and as a young woman.’ Other times, I needed to reckon with [the fact that] I have forgiven my dad. He was complicated and very untraditional, but also a loving and very attentive father,” she said.
Ira Sr., now 83 and living in Florida, has seen the movie twice, Lynne Sachs said. “He cried, and I’ve never seen him cry before,” she said, adding that her dad has developed some speech issues that make it difficult to communicate directly. “I think he likesit,” she said. “There’s an openness to it, and I think there’s a candor that he respects, from all of us.”
Sachs said she hopes people will see her father as a unique character, but not that different from most dads.
She said, “I want people who watch it to imagine, ‘Well, how might I explore my father? What would be the questions I would ask? Maybe there were things he kept from me, because maybe he was protecting me — or maybe he had a side he didn’t want me to know.’”




Grasshopper Film – Single Take: Lynne Sachs on Jean-Luc Godard



Grasshopper Film

Single Take: Lynne Sachs on Jean-Luc Godard

Having just completed her new documentary, Film About a Father Who, Lynne Sachs reflects on the decades-long impact Godard has had on her creative process, recalling first-time viewings of Vivre Sa Vie, Notre Musique, and others, in this Single Take.

As much I call myself a cinéphile, there are certain times in my filmmaking process — be it the production or post-production phase — when I try not to watch anything that is not going to help me strategize on how to solve a particular obstacle in front of me. Once I’ve found a solution to the problem at hand, I hop back into theaters with anticipation and abandon.

When I read Martin Scorsese’s “The Dying Art of Filmmaking” in The New York Times this past November, I felt I’d come upon an awkwardly realized epiphany, the fraught words of a man who had reached the pinnacle of critical and commercial success, only to recognize the blanket banality of the nirvana on which he had landed. “Cinema is an art form that brings you the unexpected. In superhero movies, nothing is at risk,” he laments. It’s not just the characters who should be on an adventure. It’s the filmmaker as well. Whether in front or behind the camera, Scorsese seems to be saying that you must have the sensation of being fragile, caught in the conundrum of possible failure.

With this said, I choose to write about the enfant terrible, the angry old man, the sixty-year trendsetter for all things cinema, Jean-Luc Godard. The first Godard film I remember seeing was his 1962 episodically constructed fiction film Vivre Sa Vie. It was the mid-1980s, and I was in graduate school in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University, shooting my first 16mm film, Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1987). In that mysterious way that great teachers can connect with their students, a professor loaned me his VHS copy of Godard’s film. He simply informed me that he thought I would like it, and he was right. At its crux, this is why we go to graduate school, to find those kindred spirits who claim to know us better than we know ourselves. I watched this brazen yet delicate narrative film on a young mother who gives up her husband and family to find her independence, moving from acting to retail work to prostitution, and in the process immersing herself in her own epistemological inquiries. While I quickly realized that Godard as director was simultaneously constructing and destroying Nana’s place in the world in which she lives, I saw in his radical methodologies a language that offered viewers the opportunity to examine the meaning of the images and sounds in a film in new, revealing ways. In my four-minute Still Life, I too wanted to deconstruct (a popular word at that time) the apparatus of cinema. Ambitious, heady, and scared, I experimented with using fiction and documentary simultaneously. Unbeknownst to Monsieur Godard, he had given me a kernel of artistic confidence. Risk became my task and not my nemesis.

On a November morning in 2002, I sat down to read The New York Times. To my shock, I came across the story of an Israeli filmmaker and teacher who was killed along with her two sons on a kibbutz near the West Bank. In so many ways, her work and life paralleled my own as a filmmaker and new mother. I immediately contacted a former film student of mine, an Israeli, explaining to him that I wanted to make a movie about this woman but that I was not in a position to fly to the Middle East to shoot the project. My reasons were two-fold. First of all, I was disturbed by Israeli political actions in the West Bank and wanted to follow the exigencies of French feminist Hélene Cixous: “I am on the side of Moses, the one who does not enter…. ‘Next year, in Jerusalem’ makes me flee.” Second, having lived in New York City during September 11, 2001, and its aftermath, I still felt too unsettled to travel to another place on the globe where violence seemed to run rampant. I was scared. This was a physical risk I was not yet prepared to take. My 2005 States of UnBelonging was propelled by my effort at making an anti-documentary. Unlike most people in the field, I didn’t want to see, hear, or smell for myself. I wanted to rely on my imagination and on the mediation of others, be they amateur or professional.

During the last few months of editing this film, I watched Godard’s Notre Musique (2004) at New York City’s Film Forum. This film is an expansive, essayistic cinémeditation on the seemingly never-ending antagonism between Palestinians and Israelis. Throughout his epic political treatise — fraught with ambiguity, anguish, and outright anger – Godard dares to infuse his exposition on war with abstracted, richly colored, high-contrast images. These gestural arabesques transform the geographic specificity of his discussion into a choreographed dreamscape. As a viewer sitting in the dark, I felt a free-floating delight that I had never before experienced. While the “subject” was harrowing, the sensations were joyous; and yet I knew that this departure from the gravitas of the film’s thematic anchor was complicated. Once again, my “mentor” was giving me license to take similar formal leaps in my own film. The first few minutes of States of UnBelonging comprise highly solarized fragments from mainstream news material shot at and near the infamous wall dividing the Palestinian Territories from Israel. I used mostly primary colors that seemed to erase skin differences, making it almost impossible to tell which bodies were associated with a particular side of the controversy. For a moment, viewers don’t know which “side” they are on, politically or geographically. In this context, ambiguity itself becomes unsettling and, perhaps, risky.

Between 2007 and 2009, I watched a range of films including Rome, Open City by Robert Rossellini, The Garden of the Finzi Continis by Vittorio de Sica, Friendship’s Death by Peter Wollen, and Fanny and Alexander by Ingmar Bergman as research for the making of my 2009 film The Last Happy Day. While historically and thematically relevant to my film’s “subject,” none of these remarkable works helped me figure out one particularly challenging conundrum.

The Last Happy Day is an experimental portrait of Sandor Lenard, a distant cousin of mine whom I actually never met. During WWII, Sandor devised his own way to survive the traumatic world of Nazi-occupied Rome in the 1940s. As a struggling doctor with Jewish lineage, he worked for the United States Army reconstructing the bodies of soldiers killed by military explosions. After the war, Sandor, a brilliant stateless polyglot, ran as far as he could from the devastation of the war. He moved to Brazil where he taught Latin to children, and, in the process, threw himself into a seemingly ridiculous language experiment, the translation of the English Winnie the Pooh into the Latin Winnie Ille Pu. Surprisingly, the manuscript’s publication catapulted Sandor to a brief world-wide fame. Impressed as I might have been by his accomplishment, this was the part of his story that baffled me and prevented me from completing the film. I just could not connect with the so-called gravitas of Pooh/ Pu.

I once again turned to Godard, this time the 12-part television mini-series France/tour/detour/deux/enfants that he co-directed with Anne-Marie Miéville in 1977 and ‘78. Together, they produced an austere, ontological series of interview-style conversations with two children, a girl and a boy who appear to be about 10 years old. Watching these tapes reminds us that children are thinking, contemplative, confused, wise human beings who should be listened to from a very early age. After revisiting Godard and Miéville’s collaboration, with its low production values and bare-bones set, I was able to find a strategy for working with a children’s story that was at the center of my own film’s character but did not yet hold meaning for me.

Over a period of a year, I shot several cineme-verité style scenes with four children, including my own 10- and 8-year-old daughters and two of their friends. Together, they grappled with the challenge of putting on Winnie the Pooh as a play. In the process, each child searched for and excavated their own responses to Pooh — revelations that I, as an adult, had never been able to find on my own. In my The Last Happy Day, the inclusion of their considerations of, say, the meaning of death through the words of Eeyore the Donkey allowed me to locate the implicit paradoxes of my cousin’s own life, be it thwarted or nourished by the contradictions of his troubled times.

While making my 2017 feature-length essay film Tip of My Tongue, I tried to create a collective distillation of our times from the point of view of a group of friends and strangers from all corners of the globe. In the process, I gathered together eleven men and women born in the 1960s. One of my particular production challenges had to do with directing compelling scenes where people were delivering monologues, either to the camera or to another person. I wanted to activate the experience of listening as much as speaking. This time, Godard’s opening minutes from his 1965 Pierrot le Fou came to my rescue. In this simple yet extraordinarily memorable scene, actor Jean-Paul Belmondo plays a dapper father in the bathtub reading an art history tome on the paintings of Velasquez at the age of 50 to his young daughter. Clearly relevant to my film in terms of the artist’s age, the scene itself is poignant, profound and hilarious. After “studying” Godard’s own bathroom scene, I asked one of my film’s participants to draw some water, take off her shirt, get into bathtub, and tell her riveting story of athletic accomplishment and illness. The scene ultimately became the most talked-about and written-about scene from Tip of My Tongue. My gratitude to Jean-Luc abounds.

I recently completed Film About a Father Who (2020), which has its world premiere as the opening night movie at the Slamdance Film Festival this month and its New York City premiere in the Museum of Modern Art’s Documentary Fortnight in February. Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, I shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape, and digital images of my father. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, my exploration of my father offers simultaneous, sometimes contradictory views of a man I should know pretty much everything about, but instead always find myself wondering. In the process of making this film, I allowed myself, my family, and my audience inside to see beyond the surface of the skin, his/my/our projected reality. As much as I might rack my brain to claim a debt to Godard in this, my most challenging movie so far, I must admit that I never actually found “Godardian” solutions to my decades-long list of obstacles to making Film About a Father Who. The only way I could finish this film was to take the obvious “risk” of going deep, deep inside.


Lynne reads from Year by Year Poems on WBAI Radio & Slamdance

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I’ve been devoted to WBAI 99.5 FM New York for years so what a thrill to read from my YEAR BY YEAR POEMS (Tender Buttons Press) this week live on their Pacifica Radio Network. Thanks to “Arts Express” (Global Arts Magazine) Host Prairie Miller who asked me to read from my book and also did a shout out for my World Premiere at Slamdance Film Festival of FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO. Prairie even added an audio excerpt from “The Washing Society” (2018 film co-directed with Lizzie Olesker) so I am guessing she has a special interest in the Atlanta Washer Women’s Strike of 1881.

This whole wild compendium of what I have been up to lately starts 29 min. 22 sec. and you can listen here on their radio archive.



Memphis writer, filmmaker Lynne Sachs returns this week with new book of poetry

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The impeachment proceedings involving President Donald Trump have revived interest in President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal.

They’ve also revived memories of that era, for those who were around at the time.

One such memory finds artistic expression in “Year by Year Poems,” a new collection by Memphis-born author/filmmaker Lynne Sachs, who makes an appearance Thursday at Burke’s Book Store in the Cooper-Young neighborhood.

In one poem, simply titled “1973,” Sachs remembers how the televised Watergate hearings disrupted her afternoon rerun routine.

“I say goodbye to Lucy, Ricky, Fred, Ethel, Hazel, and Gilligan,” Sachs writes. The stars of the new show on TV are “Dean, Haldeman, and Ehrlichman.”

Partly to impress her dad, “I wear an ‘Impeach Nixon Now’ button/ on my dress,” she concludes. “I feel brave.”

As its title suggests, “Year by Year Poems” ($19, Tender Buttons Press) consists of poems named for years, from “1961” (the year Sachs was born) until “2011” (the year Sachs reached a half-century). The poems are short and impressionistic yet precise, evoking milestones (the births of Sachs’ two daughters) and what might be called trivia.

For example, “1974” references streaking, the short-lived but much-publicized fad in which people stripped off their clothes and raced, naked, through public spaces.

“Streaking,” she said, “is the only word in the book that when I’m doing a reading, if there’s someone in the audience under 30, I feel like I have to explain it to them.”

The book isn’t the only new work from Sachs that sifts through decades of memory and family history, beginning with the cradle-through-Central High School years Sachs spent in Memphis with her similarly creative siblings, Dana Sachs, who is an author, and Ira Sachs, a noted film director (“Frankie,” “Love Is Strange”).

About two weeks after the 5:30 p.m. book signing and reading at Burke’s, Sachs will be in Park City, Utah, for the Jan. 24 premiere of her new feature, “Film About a Father Who,” which opens the 26th annual edition of the weeklong Slamdance Film Festival, a once-upstart rival to Park City’s overlapping and more renowned Sundance Film Festival.

Almost 30 years in the making and constructed from rediscovered Super 8 and 16mm home movies, VHS tape recordings and new digital video footage, “Film About a Father Who” — the title is a reference to Yvonne Rainer’s 1974 landmark “Film About a Woman Who…” — is, at base, a portrait of Ira Sachs Sr., the “Bohemian businessman” whose Memphis children were only three of what eventually was revealed to be nine children among six mothers. (Two of these women were Sachs’ wives, the first being retired Rhodes College sociology professor and Memphis resident Diane Sachs, the mother of Lynne, Dana and Ira Jr.)

According to the Slamdance catalog, the documentary is Sachs’ attempt “to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to eight siblings, some of whom she has known all of her life, others she only recently discovered … Her film offers sometimes contradictory views of one seemingly unknowable man who is always there, public, in the center of the frame, yet somehow ensconced in secrets.”

Said Sachs: “The film is my investigation of what a family is.” (In fact, that phrase also could be applied to her brother’s feature films, including the made-in-Memphis “Forty Shades of Blue,” in which Rip Torn plays a man somewhat inspired by Ira Sachs Sr.)

The film is bookended with footage of Lynne Sachs attempting to cut her aging father’s sandy hair, which — complemented by his signature walrus mustache — is as long and hippie-ish as it was during the man’s still locally infamous party-hearty heyday, when Ira Sachs Sr. restored, renovated and lived in the historic Adams Avenue property that is now home to the Mollie Fontaine Lounge.

“There’s just one part that’s very tangly,” Lynne comments, as the simple grooming activity becomes a metaphor for the daughter’s attempt to negotiate the thicket of her father’s romantic entanglements, the branches of her extended family tree and the thorny concepts of personal and social responsibility.

A graduate of Brown University and a resident of Brooklyn (where she lives with her husband, Mark Street), Lynne Sachs has been creating experimental short and feature-length films since the mid-1980s. Most are nonfiction films, although they may contain recreations of actual events or passages of abstract imagery.

MOVIES: Here are John Beifuss’ 10 best movies of 2019 (plus a second 10)

Generally, Sachs’ films screen at museums and colleges, and at film festivals more devoted to movie aficionados than to movie marketers. In 2018, her film “The Washing Society,” about the women who work in New York City laundromats, won an award at the Indie Memphis Film Festival in the “Departures” category, which recognizes experimental work.

Opening up the hectic Slamdance festival will be a new experience for Sachs, whose movie is likely to find an appreciative audience among any attendees who live in Park City, where Ira Sachs Sr. — now 83 — earned a reputation as “the Hugh Hefner of Park City” after he relocated from Memphis to Utah.

“I know there is a lot of pain in it,” said Lynne Sachs, referencing the film’s presentation of the children’s fraught relationships with their loving but often inattentive and self-centered father. “But there’s also a lot of love and forgiveness.

“I’ve made so many films about other people’s lives, I felt like it was time for me to be as vulnerable in my own film as I expect other people to be when I’m in front of them with my camera.”

Lynne Sachs and ‘Year by Year Poems’

Book signing, reading and conversation at Burke’s Book Store, 936 Cooper.

5:30 p.m. Thursday.

For more information, call 901-278-7484.









Slamdance 2020 Opens With Documentary On Park City Denizen Ira Sachs

By Rick Brough

The Slamdance Film Festival returns to Park City later this month—headquartered once again at the Treasure Mountain Inn at the top of Main Street.

But this year, the Festival has some special news for Parkites. The opening-night premiere is a documentary on Ira Sachs Sr., who’s been an icon in town for 40 years.

The Slamdance Festival, in its 26th year, runs from January 24th to the 30th.

The opening-night premiere, “Film About a Father Who” is by film-maker Lynne Sachs, looking at her dad, Ira, through video and film footage shot over a period of 35 years.

Peter Baxter, the President and co-founder of Slamdance, said they chose the film to open the festival because it breaks the boundaries for documentary film-making.

“Here we have a family. And most families have fall-outs. And the ruptured and the intense one in Lynne’s film—amazing documentary—reveals how far blood lines can stretch without losing connection altogether. Though this is an extremely personal film, and asks us several times to really choose between love and hate, she’s really exploring a universal theme that we all think about from time to time, which is the extent to which one human being can really know another. And in this case, it’s her dad.”

Ira is known in Park City as the original developer of what is now the Double Tree by Hilton—previously known as the Holiday Inn or the Yarrow. As the film shows, he could often be seen skiing down the slopes while doing business over the phone—in the days when a mobile phone was the size of a shoebox.

Although the Sachs family is based in Memphis, Tennessee, Lynne told KPCW the film shows off footage of the Wasatch Mountains—areas that have changed a lot in the years since.

Lynne has made 35 films, many of them shorts. She said that in 1991, she decided to begin making a film about the man who is a big presence in her life.

“But I was always shooting Super-8 material. The first footage I shot was actually in ’84, before I realized that it was gonna be a longer film and really like a portrait of his life. But then in ’91, I officially started the movie, and then continued to shoot almost every time we were together for many, many, many years, until this year.”

The film deals with the idea that you may think you know a parent, but there are still limits to that knowledge.

“It’s like the parent leaves an imprint on you, and you know you’re carrying that throughout your life. But also that parent goes on and continues to have his or her own relationships. And my father certainly did too. So there were parts of his life I knew a great deal about, and other parts that were, let’s say, more secretive. And so, that all became much more open in the last few years. And we had deeper conversations about it, and were able to investigate that.”

Lynne said Ira has had two marriages and fathered nine children—from six different mothers.

“Because we weren’t always prepared. I think that was a big part of it, like how you prepare for the news, how you prepare to love another person, how do you deal with a person you didn’t know about. And then you find out about, and you want to embrace them, but you also have to figure out how they fit into your psyche.”

She said there have been challenges in getting to know her half-siblings. But she has developed close relationships.

“It’s a bit like nine planets. So we all circulate around him in different kinds of ways. For example, one of my sisters, Julia, I’ve just gotten to know in the last five years, but was very, very close. She lives in Park City. Because there’s a certain kind of way that we understand each other through my dad. It’s like he has, shall I say, a language, and you get it, or you don’t. But most of us do get it. And so it brings us closer.”

Lynne said the film also acknowledges that Ira has had numerous relationships with attractive women.

“Being a daughter, you have to reckon with it. You have to either run away or you have to face it. Being a feminist, you have to figure out how you’re gonna embrace that situation. And I did my best to explore it and to also know that he lived his own life. And I also really tried to connect with those women and to figure out what it would be like to be those women, through conversations that are in the film. So it’s kinda like a cubist piece where you see my dad from a lot of different perspectives.”

She isn’t the only one in the family who has chronicled her father. Her brother, Ira Jr., has been a director of independent narrative films since the Nineties—with films sometimes appearing at Sundance.

His film “Forty Shades of Blue”, was about a father-son relationship. And Lynne said the father figure, played by Rip Torn, was a quasi-version of Ira Sr.

Ira is now 83 years old. She said he doesn’t ski anymore and spends the winter months mostly in warmer climates. But he still has a residence in Park City, and there she showed him the completed film. She said it was one of the first times she saw him cry.

Apart from Slamdance, the film will be shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Meanwhile, Peter Baxter said that Slamdance, programmed by film-makers for film-makers, is showing over 100 selections—picked from hundreds of thousands of submissions. He said you can go to “slamdance.com” for complete information on the festival program, tickets and passes.


The Salt Lake Tribune: Park City developer Ira Sachs Sr. will be profiled in Slamdance’s opening film

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The Salt Lake Tribune

Park City developer Ira Sachs Sr. will be profiled in Slamdance’s opening film

By Sean P. Means

A Park City legend will get his moment on the big screen in his hometown, as the subject of the opening-night film of the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival.

Experimental documentarian Lynne Sachs’ movie “Film About a Father Who,” a profile of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., will open the independent film festival on Jan. 24 at the Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main St., Park City, the festival announced Wednesday.

Ira Sachs Sr., 83, is known around Park City as an eccentric millionaire, the pioneering developer who, among other things, opened The Yarrow Hotel (now the DoubleTree by Hilton Park City). The film employs footage from 1984 to 2019, on 8mm and 16mm film, videotape and digital images.


“It takes undeniable courage to discover and reveal shocking truths about one’s family,” said Alina Solodnikova, Slamdance festival manager. “Lynne Sachs has done it with unique style, a dry sense of humor and honesty that captivates our programmers.”

The Sachs family has another link to Park City in January: Ira’s son, also known as Ira Sachs, is a filmmaker who has had six of his seven films screen at the Sundance Film Festival. His 2005 drama “Forty Shades of Blue” won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. dramatic films at Sundance.

Slamdance — which runs Jan. 24-30, alongside the larger Sundance Film Festival — announced “Film About a Father Who” will be part of its Breakouts program, showcasing directors who have already made their debuts and are sticking to the independent mindset.



KPCW Local News Hour with Leslie Thatcher – Park City NPR Jan. 3, 2020 Live Radio Interview with Lynne Sachs








Local News Hour – Jan 3, 2020

By Leslie Thatcher

On today’s program, outgoing Park City Councilmember Lynn Ware Peek reflects back on her time in office. Solitude Resort Communications Manager Sara Huey talks about the results they’ve seen by implementing paid parking this winter. Park City Institute Executive Director Teri Orr, newly named Managing Director Ari Ioannides and Board President Jason Owen talk about the on-going leadership changes and the future of the Institute. Peter Baxter, Co-Founder and Director of Slamdance Film Festival, talks about this year’s festival, which features Lynne Sachs festival premiere, a documentary on her father and Park City bon vivant Ira Sachs Sr., Film About A Father Who.


Screen Daily: Slamdance 2020 to open with ‘Film About A Father Who’








Slamdance 2020 to open with ‘Film About a Father Who’

By Jeremy Kay

Lynne Sachs’ Film About A Father Who will open Slamdance 2020, set to run in Park City, Utah, from January 24-30, 2020.

Sachs shot her film about Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Utah, over 35 years from 1984 to 2019 using 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital.

“It takes undeniable courage to discover and reveal shocking truths about one’s family,” said Slamdance festival manager Alina Solodnikova. “Lynne Sachs has done it with unique style, a dry sense of humour and honesty that captivates our programmers. A generation in the making, Film About A Father Who is pulling no punches. We couldn’t imagine a better film to open Slamdance 2020.”