Tag Archives: maya at 24

“A Conversation with Experimental Director Lynne Sachs: Film About a Father Who, her upcoming project and the power of looking at a horizon”

The Emanon
Sarah Lawrence College
May 10, 2022
by Ethan Cotler ‘23

Figuring out the unique grammar of your life can be difficult. People, situations, can give us question marks with no answers and ellipses that lead to nothing. Lynne Sachs, a Memphis-born experimental filmmaker, attempted to answer some of these questions in her own life with the 2020 documentary, Film About a Father Who. She offers an in-depth look at her father and titular character.  

Ira Sachs Sr. is an enigmatic hotelier out of Park City, Utah, with an unmissable mustache and a penchant for colorful button-ups. His approach to love parallels in eccentricity. He despises loving like a “swan,” the idea of mating with a single soulmate for life. Sachs Sr. chose instead to surround himself with a steady flow of young women and went on to marry—and divorce—a number of them. Many of Lynne Sachs’ childhood peers were enamored by the bravado and Hefner-esque life her father led. But this way of life caused tension at times with those closest to him, to say the absolute least. 

Beginning in 1984, Lynne Sachs chronicled moments in Sachs Sr.’s life for thirty-five years and those in his mother’s, ex-wives’, children’s, and others close to him. Her mission was to elucidate his tucked-away interior life, not just to an audience but to herself. Two years after the release of the film and two years younger than when Sachs began this project, I got to speak with her about it and her greater body of work. Sachs gave a lecture at Sarah Lawrence in the fall of 2021—for those who took Tanya Goldman’s “Experimental Documentary”course. I sat in my apartment in upstate New York and called Sachs, who was in a hotel room in Paris. She’d left her Brooklyn home for a few weeks to attend a screening of her work. In our hours of conversation, what stuck with me the most was what she said about the image above. Sachs stated that it is “the most important in all of Film About a Father Who.” A scene that wasn’t even filmed by Sachs, instead by her father. It’s a tranquil look at three of her siblings as children playing in a creek. For a film that follows a bon vivant and his unorthodox lifestyle, I was taken aback that this scene was the most important. 

The scene occurs once in each of the three acts, all different segments of the same shot. Why? Well, it’s part of what makes this film, like each of her films, have a unique “feeling”—or “grammar”—to them. “Grammar,” as a metaphor, is illustrated in another wonderful scene in act one. I told her,

I really loved that scene in Film About A Father Who.

In it, Sachs, her brother, and her sister sit on her childhood bed talking

about how [your father] doesn’t have a grammar and your mother does when you’re living with each of them. Do you feel that your work as a filmmaker has some sort of grammar behind it? Or is it just question marks when you go into each project? 

I think that what really, really distinguishes an experimental film from a more conventional film, whether you’re talking about a documentary or a narrative or any other form, is a refusal to embrace a formula around grammar or a template—the grammar of cinema. Because people say things like, “well, a great documentary is character-driven,” or they say “you can’t break the 180-degree rule when you’re shooting,” or you must have the exposition sort of identified and articulated in a narrative film by fifteen minutes in.

There’s all these rules about the shape of things. The way shot-reverse-shot insinuates that two people are in the same room and doing things simultaneously. If you know about making films, you know that they’re probably not, but it relies on an assumption on the part of the audience that the grammar of the film will be accessible and key to that—key is familiar.

So then you jump over to something that is more playful, experimental, distinctive in terms of each work, having its own cosmos. And you think that the audience at first might be a little disoriented because the audience doesn’t understand its distinctive grammar, but through the shaping, evolution of the film, the audience starts to register how meaning is constructed. And I think that’s really exciting. And I think that is an opportunity to constantly reinvent how you work with the medium of film. When I hear about someone who says, “well, I bought this software that helps you to write your screenplays, it comes with a template.” 

I think, okay, if it comes with a template, then you are going to construct time in a certain kind of way. You’re going to create your characters in a, probably, formulaic way. So I’m scared of that kind of stuff. I think it’s problematic. So, then you asked that in relationship to Film About a Father Who, and I think that every family has its own grammar as well and that the grammar is significant because it guides you in terms of how you relate to people of different generations or new members of your family. It has to do with how transparent you are. What it means to do something like tell a lie, or what is a white lie? How many different people in your family do you tell white lies to, to protect them?

What does a white lie really mean? People either withhold information or you shift information because you think the truth is going to be complicated or intimidating or painful. So you were asking about the punctuation marks—are my films question marks? I do actually like when people leave my films, asking questions of themselves or questions of society or questions more ontologically about how we construct meaning. I like that. I think that’s an opportunity for being changed by a work of art. Or perhaps being just slightly shifted by it.

There was kind of a shift at the end of the film when you bring in your sister—the one that had been removed from you for so long. A lot of stories about your father- there’s some sort of way you and your other siblings in your minds might have justified them a lot of times, but in that one, there’s no justification for what happened.

Sachs’ half-sister went on a pre-college trip with a best friend from high school, staying in a ski lodge with Sachs Sr. At the end of the vacation, her best friend announced that she had fallen for and would continue to live with her father.

 I felt like that really changed the perception of the film.

Sometimes we do that with things that upset us. We create justification in order to move forward, but then it keeps gnawing at us. So if we finally come to terms with our own anguish with the recognition that the reality is not what we want it to be, but it is there and that we can’t make any more excuses for it. Then I think it’s like a cathartic experience, even if it is difficult. 

Also what I loved about that film is I felt you’re really comfortable not only behind the camera but also in front. Your [1987] short film, Drawn and Quartered, you talked about how you at first edited out your face because you were so embarrassed [to show yourself nude], but then you ultimately decided to put it back in. And I felt like that was a moment of growth? 

In English, we say, “oh, don’t you feel exposed.” We the word exposed on a physical level, and we use it on a psychological level.

So at that point, I was not very secure with showing my body, and I felt vulnerable and I felt too observed. But then later I made a film called the The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts, and I take my clothes off a little, other people do too—it’s a lot about the body.

But what was more of an exposed feeling was the writing. The idea of that you write about things that go on in your body and the grit of it all, the pus, the urine, and all those things. But the thing is, by exposing that, you’re actually saying I’m just like everybody else. I’m a woman. My body’s like all the other women; we’re just shaped a little different. It’s when you open up and expose the narrative of your life and all the compromises that come with that–that’s even more revealing. So there’s all these layers of what it means to be exposed. 

As you’ve made films throughout your career, have you felt you’ve been able to be more comfortable [in front of the camera], or was this something from the beginning you felt— 

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, definitely not. Sometimes I go back — not that I do this very much —  and look at my progress reports from elementary school. And my teachers would say, “Lynne is a good student, but she’s so shy.” I wasn’t a very forthright child. I wasn’t the first person to raise their hand, you know, in those situations. But I think it’s come to me, and I think part of it is, let’s say, making a film like Film About a Father Who. I was so profoundly nervous about making this film.

It’s not just because I was exposing myself to you or to anyone else in the audience, but I was exposing myself, my life to myself. Does that make sense? I’ve never explored this word in this way. You are really making me think! Like I was saying, “Hey, this is really how it is,” because you can get very wrapped up in the day-to-day activities of your life and not really allow yourself to think in an analytical way, an emotional way about how, how you’ve lived your life. And so the film gave me that chance. I realized as I was making Film About a Father Who that two things happen when you’re interviewing and when you’re trying to write.

If I’m talking to one of my siblings and I’m asking them to tell me about how they feel about something, they’re looking to me, and I’m saying, “yes, yes,” and I’m nodding, and I’m affirming as if that’ll fit perfectly into my edit, you know, [like] that’s exactly what I needed. So I found that if we went together into a very dark place, like a closet, there wasn’t that constant affirmation and perhaps, manipulation. So that’s one thing. But then the other thing had to do with the writing and the construction of a voiceover or narration was that I kept censoring myself. So I used a method that has really proven to be super helpful. That was to just record my thoughts in this kind of unfiltered way and then to send it to a transcription service. And then you come back, and you have 20 pages of text. That was how I did it since I kept writing in my moleskin diary and scratching it all out.

I know you got your start with feminist filmmaking. Seeing Film About a Father Who, I wondered was there any sort of [internal] conflict? 

I was actually editing Film About a Father Who during the Me Too movement. So I was cognizant of the fact that I was talking about a man who led a life, well, he’s still alive, in which he had a certain kind of power over different women in his life. Maybe not in the workplace, but you know, in his personal life. And I knew that there were contradictions, but I felt that I was not only making it as a feminist but also as a daughter. You look at your parents as role models, but you also look at your parents for ways to be completely different.

They’re your first models of how to exist in the world and for how to define what their sexuality is—how they define the meaning of their gender. And so either you adhere to that, or you move away. And for example, in Film About a Father Who, I think my brothers were all positioning themselves in very different ways in terms of their own identity as men. I think that they were confronting those things in just as complicated ways as we as daughters were. I mean, my brother Ira said he thinks the gist of the whole movie is a kind of search for a new or refined definition for masculinity in the 2020s.

So I was trying to deal with that all the time to move between my rage at my dad, but also my attempt to forgive him or to recognize his flaws.

I also found it interesting that from the beginning of your career, you started filming people in a unique way, compared to traditional documentarians that do shot-reverse-shot and have them look at a certain place. Whereas I feel like a lot of people that you film will look right at the camera or look right at you. How did you even think to do that? Break that rule. 

Oh, you really picked up on something. That happened particularly in a film called Investigation of a Flame 

(a 2001 documentary by Sachs that illuminates the story of the Catonsville Nine, who were Catholic activists in 1968 who peacefully yet poignantly burned draft files to protest the Vietnam War.)

When I was shooting that film, most of it, not all of it, I shot by myself. I was shooting it, but I was also using it as an opportunity to get to know these incredible anti-war activists, people who had been fighting the fight—the good fight. And even breaking the law in an absolutely nonviolent way as a statement against the Vietnam war. So I was on my way to interviewing someone near Boston. And a friend of mine who worked for National Geographic [said to me], “How are you going to shoot that by yourself? Because where will they look?” But that’s part of a grammar, that conceit, that idea that you have to look like three-quarters off. I think it was Errol Morris, the documentary filmmaker, who came up with a camera which he reconfigured so that people could simultaneously look at him while he was shooting and appear to be looking off at something. He invented some form of refraction to kind of work against that formula for setting up a relationship that isn’t about that the director controlling—[even though] we know the director is controlling. I mean, one of my very favorite places to do interviews is in the car because I think when people look off at a horizon line, even if the car isn’t moving, they become very introspective. Have you ever noticed all the deep conversations you might’ve had in a car? 

Yeah. No, I never thought about that. There must be something with like the horizon—

The horizon, the sort of hermetic solitude—removed from the rest of the world but not really. You’re not in a silent chamber. You’re actually watching the world go by. But people become very— what’s the word? Meditative. 

I definitely remember you having a couple of interviews where a person is looking out a window, looking outside.

I’ve been criticized for that. Oh my God. I had an interview in Investigation of a Flame where I’m interviewing this man. And then I look out the window— the camera looks out the window. And a lot of people were surprised that I kept that. They said, “why didn’t you just put in ‘B-roll’?” But I actually hate the term B-roll. I can’t stand it. It’s so disrespectful of the image, but also, I wanted the shot to convey that I was listening to him. I mean, I thought it was honest. I was listening to this man so intensely that I needed to not look at him. I needed to take in what he was saying.

I think that’s so interesting that you hate that term “B-roll.” Because I definitely feel like for a lot of your films, what makes them so good is that you have like an eye for beauty in all moments. No moment is B-roll. 

I think that I said it was “disrespectful to the image,” but it actually doesn’t allow for the dialogue or the voiceover to have multiple layers of meaning. It just provides a little bit of distraction. I mean, I would say if the idea of B-roll, as in filler, is all you can do, just put in black.

The attention to dialogue is evident in each of Sachs’ films. Her 2013 documentary, Your Day is My Night, documents the lives of Chinese immigrants living in Manhattan’s Chinatown. In a scene where a middle-aged man gives another a back massage, he apologizes for bringing trashed mattresses into their shared living space. He likes to clean them and give them back to people in need. Sachs cut back and forth from a close-up of his hands gingerly rubbing the other’s back to a close-up of his face as he speaks, the window reflecting in his glasses. The audible rhythm of the massage combined with the focus on the scene presented—no, B-roll—makes it feel immersive. It made me linger on every word, every sound. 

Sachs cares greatly about the spoken word but also the written. Many of her films intersect both of these mediums. Her 2020 abstract short film, Girl is Presence, silently follows her daughter arranging items from shark teeth to film strips while a poem is recited as a voiceover. For this short, she collaborated with poet Anne Lesley Selcer. I thought it was intriguing that Sachs, being a documentarian who tend to concern themselves with prose-oriented storytelling, has such a strong interest in poetry. Though, it is not surprising because Sachs herself is a poet. In 2019, her first book was published, Year by Year Poems (Tender Buttons Press) which inspired her 2017 documentary Tip of My Tongue.

I know you write poetry as well.

Yeah, I think there’s an interesting intersection between film and poetry that isn’t just about two different disciplines coming together, but it’s a way of listening. So poetry is like a confrontation with or a disruption of more conventional ways of constructing meaning, of organizing sentences. Poetry asks you to think in more associative ways and in speculative ways and redefines words you thought you knew. It asks you to listen in this kind of super-engaged way. And I also like that poetry thinks about the words in collision with each other and overlapping each other like the songs of words and even the fact that we break lines based on sound and based on rhythm, which is not how prose works. And that’s also how I like to edit, for example, dialogue in my films. I like to think about the ways that things are iterated, not just a cause and effect. Like I say this, and then you say that, and then I say this back to you. So I think poetry pushes you to engage with the oral experience in really revealing ways. I have recently, like in the last four or five years, integrated poetry more and more into my own film work, like with “Tip of My Tongue.” Then I made quite a few films in collaboration with other poets, like Bernadette Mayer or Paolo Javier.

Watching your films, I felt like there was a unique flow to the dialogue a lot of times.

One thing that’s been helpful over the years is I often shoot images separate from recording sound. So when you shoot what we call video image or digital, it’s like the sound and the picture usually, as they say, it sounds so terrible, [are] “married.” So you get the image, and you get the sound, and people tend to privilege the hearing of clear, clean sound in order to convey information. But if you let that go, you can allow dialogue to transform into sound effect. Like in conventional filmmaking, you have a track which is dialogue, a track which is effects, and a track which is music. But if you think of it all as an opportunity for dialogue to become music or for a sound effect to register almost like voice, then you start to get surprises that I think are super interesting.

That just reminded me of like- I love that opening of The Washing Society, where it was cutting to different [exteriors of] laundromats [around New York City]. I just remember watching that, and, you know, I had the volume turned up. And I felt like each laundromat, each area, had its unique sounds to it and really flowed into each one quite nicely, but then became distinct.

Thank you for saying that. In that film and about five others, I’ve worked really closely with Stephen Vitiello, who’s a wonderful sound artist and performer. We started working together on Your Day is My Night in 2013. Then he worked with me on Tip of My Tongue ,  Drift and Bow and Film About a Father Who. I’ll send him sounds from laundromats, then he’ll send me back musical pieces, and they’re usually much longer than the image. So then I have to find more image. And so it’s really like a back and forth the whole time. It’s never simply that he just creates the music track.

That’s the main methodology [for] him making music for your films? You’ll send him soundbites, and he’ll send you music?

Sort of. A lot of times, I’ll send him an image, and then he’ll come up with something, or he’ll say, “listen, [I] sent you all these sounds I made.” He also uses instruments. Sometimes he’ll hire a clarinet player, and then they’ll make these longer pieces, and then I love the piece so much that I think I have to meet him with more image. For me, the places where we have his music are very evocative and also places for thinking so that my films aren’t too much dialogue. I call them a sound vessels so that you can be in this place of resonance without exposition or information or anything like that, listening in a more relational way.

So, sometimes he’ll send you music, and you’ll actually respond by filming more?

Yeah. Yeah, sometimes. 

I think that’s awesome. 

It’s a lot of pressure, but I try to rise to the occasion.

I think in that way it makes the films breathe a little more, you know, so that you have some kind of scene where you have all this activity and energy and conversation, and then you have, a time that’s more sort of more cerebral. It’s not like a rest time. In fact, I think the audience has to kind of work with what they’ve just experienced in the previous scenes. That’s what I think happens in those sections.

Also, I see that you’re very interested in the ephemeral with a lot of your work. I’m wondering, for something as permanent a medium as film is, what is your interest in that?

Hmm, that’s really a lovely question. So, I guess I explored that most… I’m going to think about a couple of films, but I don’t know if you’ve seen them. Did you see Maya at 24?


Maya at 24 is a four-minute short film she released in 2021, which captures her daughter, Maya, at ages 6, 16, and the titular, 24. It’s comprised almost entirely of three paralleled scenes of Maya running in circles around a camera at each of those ages. Sachs shot it in black and white film on her 16mm Bolex. 

So I was thinking about this while my daughter was spinning around me and then later as I was watching those moments on film.  There on the screen are aspects of her that are no more—like I can’t touch anymore, that I can’t access anymore. But film itself can remind me; it’s almost like saying film is the antidote to the ephemeral? It’s sort of saying, “well, nothing is ephemeral because we can contain it and put it in our computer or put it in a can,” but yet it is also constantly reminding us that it no longer is. Did you see a Month of Single Frames? 

No, but that’s the one about Barbara Hammer? 

Yeah. You know, Barbara Hammer’s work? 

A little bit. I’m not too knowledgeable of her, though. 

Well, she was definitely a mentor of mine and a dear friend—she was never a teacher—but I admired her. She was exactly the same age as my mom is, and she was a powerhouse, “lesbian, experimental filmmaker,” that’s what she called herself. And when she was dying, a year before that, she asked me and some other people to make films with materials she had never been able to finish. And so the film that we made, which is a Month of Single Frames, or that I made in homage to her, is also about the ephemeral because it’s a recognition of the mortal coil as well as the changing landscape that you’ll see in the film. The landscape is- has- will always change. So it’s only there to hold onto and to touch in that exact moment. It’s like the Heraclitus, you know, “you can’t step in the same [stream] twice.” And so, it is always passing us by. I’m working on a new film now called Every Contact Leaves a Trace. It’s about people who’ve left imprints on me, but that expression comes from a forensic study. That if you come into my home or space and you take something from me, you leave something of yourself, a residue. So I’m interested in that. What happens when a tangible,  touch-based experience is investigated, which is sort of like, how do we confront the ephemeral?

So for that film, Every Contact Leaves a Trace. Are you trying to take like a neutral stance and pull in people that have had any sort of contact with you—negative or positive? 

I actually only have a pool of 550 people. 

That’s a lot, though.

 But I’m not using all of them. No, I’m not. They are people who, at one point, gave me a card. We had a haptic intersection. It could be a doctor. It could be someone from like a hardware store. I have both of those types of people. I met a man on the border between the United States and Mexico, right in Tijuana. We met for about an hour. He gave me his card. So, I’m actually constructing scenarios in my mind about those. Yeah, it’s kind of similar; you said “ephemeral.” It’s like a passing in the night. That man left something with me. Maybe I left something with him. I don’t know. That happened in 2014, but I have these cards going back all the way to the ’90s. I’m interested in not so much the trajectory of their lives but in the detritus of the moment. I might do kind of playful reenactments. I’m not quite sure.

Like Lynne Sachs’ use of business cards to recall moments with strangers, near the end of the interview, I brought out stills from her films to recall scenes. The image I brought for Film About a Father Whowas one of my favorites, but the one I had the most trouble understanding. It’s the image you have seen twice thus far—Sachs’ siblings playing in a creek. I was first drawn to it by the use of color and light. Then, when I noticed she repeated it across the film it made me believe it had to hold more significance than I understood. Though, I was not prepared for how important. I said to her,

I noticed that you repeated this image in Film About a Father Who.

 Oh, thank you. Okay. I love that you brought that up. What happens in Film About a Father Who is that I have a seven-minute shot that my dad recorded with his own camera. So it’s the world and his children perceived by him. In many films that one makes, you talk to people, and they tell you exactly how they feel about things. But that was really a challenge for me with my father. So, to see the world through his lens, through his eyes, was such an opportunity for me to think about the positive things that he brought to his children. I had that material, and at first, I absolutely dismissed it because it had been completely degraded by time, by the weather, by the fact that the material had been in a garage for decades. Then I looked at it again, and I realized it was the most important image in all of Film About a Father Who. Because it has this compassion, but also as an image, it’s like the classical golden triangle. It’s constructed graphically like what you’re taught in design school or in drawing class—to create this perpetual motion inward towards the center through a triangle. And so, I was interested in using that as a marker three times in the film, but it’s not exactly the same shot. It’s different parts of the same seven-minute shot. Each time you, as the viewer, have a different level of engagement. The first time the children are sort of archetypal children playing in the water. The second time you know that they’ve grown up and you’ve seen them in other places, and you’re able to have a kind of comprehensive understanding of life live;  they have become thinking, engaged adults. The third time that you see it, you bring a kind of gravitas. Like these people have been through some pain. They have wisdom; they have interesting and complex interactions. So I’m interested personally in how you change as viewer because each time you see that frame, you are slightly more knowing. By the end, you’re almost omniscient, but in the beginning, you’re just engaging with it as material image.

 That was so profound. I absolutely love that explanation. 

It was really a reversal because I was so dismissive of that shot, and then I was so enthralled by it. There’s one other shot in Film About a Father Who that’s kind of like that. At the very end, there’s this static-y black and white shot where you only see the silhouette of my father, and he’s going off towards the horizon line. It probably was at the end of a tape and was damaged in some way. But I liked that it was pared down to these high contrasts blacks and whites, and that was it. It is my father, but it could become your father or anyone in your life you’re trying to hold onto.

You can find many of Lynne Sachs’s films on the Criterion Channel, Fandor, DAFilms and Ovid:

Criterion Channel: https://www.criterionchannel.com/film-about-a-father-who

DAFilms: https://americas.dafilms.com/director/7984-lynne-sachs

Fandor: https://www.fandor.com/category-movie/297/lynne-sachs/

Ovid: https://www.ovid.tv/lynne-sachs

“Monográfico Lynne Sachs” at La Casa Encendida (Madrid)

La Casa Encendida
May 25
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Audiovisual room

The American experimental filmmaker and poet participates in the discussion that takes place after the screening of a selection of some of her films, which explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences within the family framework. In addition, she teaches the course Opening the family album .

Lynne Sachs has created genre-defying cinematic works through the use of hybrid forms and interdisciplinary collaboration, incorporating elements of essay film, collage , performance, documentary, and poetry. With each project of hers, Ella Lynne investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera and the materiality of the film itself.


  • Girl Is Presence . USA, 4 min. 2020
    In this collaborative work, Lynne Sachs and her daughter Noa make a visual poem in response to a poem by Anne Lesley Selcer. Girl Is Presence has traces of the fragmented language of George Bataille, the source of Selcer’s concept poem that reworks, undoes and recalls its rhythms. Made in the deepest isolation of the pandemic, as the words build in tension, the scene begins to feel occult, ritualistic, and alchemical.
  • Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam . USA, 33 min. 1994.
    When two American sisters travel north from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, conversations with strangers and Vietnamese friends reveal the other side of a shared story.
  • Wind in Our Hair . Argentina / USA, 40 min. 2010.
    Inspired by stories by writer Julio Cortázar and shot in contemporary Argentina, the film is based on an experimental narrative where four girls discover themselves through their fascination with the trains that pass by their house. As a story of anticipation and disappointment in early adolescence, Con viento en el pelo is set in a period of deep political and social unrest in Argentina.
  • Maya at 24 . USA / Spain, 5 min. 2021.
    Lynne Sachs films her daughter Maya in black and white and on 16mm. at 6, 16 and 24 years. In each recording, Maya runs in circles, clockwise, as if she is propelling herself in the same direction as time, forward. Aware of the strange simultaneous temporal landscape that only cinema can convey, this work shows Maya in motion at her different ages.

Total duration of the session: 82 minutes.

Later discussion with director Lynne Sachs.

related links

“Opening the family album, with Lynne Sachs” a Workshop at la Casa Encendida (Madrid)

La Casa Encendida
From May 24 to 26
Tuesday to Thursday:
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

An autobiographical family portrait as a starting point for the construction of a film.

A workshop in which we will explore the ways in which images of our mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, grandfather, aunt or uncle can become material for the making of a personal film. Each participant will attend the first day with a single photograph that they want to examine.

Next, you’ll create a cinematic representation for this image by incorporating narration and interpretation. In the process, we will discuss and question the notions of expressing the truth and the language necessary for it.

This workshop is inspired by the work Family Lexicon by the Italian novelist Natalia Ginzburg, whose writing explores family relationships during fascism in Italy, World War II and the postwar period. Ginzburg was a perceptive artist who unified the usual distinctions between fiction and nonfiction: “Whenever I have found myself inventing something according to my old habits as a novelist, I have felt compelled to destroy it immediately. The places, events and people are all real.”

Imparted by:

Lynne Sachs has created genre-defying cinematic works through the use of hybrid forms and interdisciplinary collaboration, incorporating elements of essay film, collage, performance, documentary, and poetry. Her highly self-reflective films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and larger historical experiences. With each project of hers, Ella Lynne investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera and the materiality of the film itself.

Lynne’s recent work combines fiction, nonfiction, and experimental modes. She has made more than 25 films that have been screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto Images Festival, among others. They have also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, Walker Art Center, Wexner Center for the Arts, and other national and international institutions. The Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (BAFICI), the New Cinema International Festival in Havana, and the China Women’s Film Festival have presented retrospectives of her films. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York and is a part-time professor in the Art department at Princeton University.

Relevant information:

The workshop will be given in English and Spanish, an adequate level of the language is recommended

Students will have free access to the screening of the Monograph of the filmmaker Lynne Sachs, on Wednesday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Duration: 6 hours

related links

“Maya at 24” Selected in Beyond Chron’s Best of 2021

by Peter Wong 
January 4, 2022
Beyond Chron

Maya at 24 – Lynne Sachs’ short uses the simple image of her daughter Maya running in front of the camera to offer kinetic snapshots of how our children change physically and emotionally over the years.

Peter Wong

For this writing filmgoer, 2021 offered the first tentative steps back to pre-pandemic filmgoing.  Film festivals adjusted in various ways to using both online streaming and in-person events to reach their audiences.  The reopening of film theaters in San Francisco allowed proper enjoyment of such big screen must-see films as “Summer Of Soul,” “Dune,” and “Shang-Chi And The Legend Of Ten Rings.”  On the other hand, the least worrisome in-theater viewing was had at the Roxie, which required ID and proof of vaccination before a viewer could even get a ticket.

Because there’s no category here for episodic TV screened at film festivals, special note needs to be made of Maria Belen Poncio and Rosario Perazolo Masjoan’s Argentine TV mini-series “Four Feet High.”  The Sundance Film Festival presented this touching and funny story of wheelchair-bound teen Juana, who’s just transferred to a new high school.  Her struggle for personal independence gets intertwined with her desire to get laid.  In addition, she’s helping some fellow queer students’ efforts to get a real sex education course at their school.  Its greatest asset is giving viewers a chance to see through Juana’s eyes what life is like as a disabled person.  Where else will you get to hear Juana’s riposte to a woman who patronizingly wants to put Juana on a pedestal: “Your life must be awful if I’m setting the example.”

Of the actual feature films seen by this writer this year, here are some lesser known films which deserve a little more than a title-only honorable mention:

The Show” comes from director Mitch Jenkins, who worked off a script by comics legend Alan Moore.  The film begins with a familiar fictional trope:  A man whose name is supposedly Steve Lipman comes to Northampton on a quest.  But by the time “Lipman”’s true name and intentions are revealed, the viewer discovers Northampton teems with such ongoing surprises as a superhero investigator, a supposedly dead comedian/mage (played by Moore), and a burned down men’s club that’s still thriving in dreams.  Call the Moore-scripted film one unburdened by the diktat of genre storytelling.  The film is available via Shout! Home Video.

2021 saw two films titled “Swan Song” hit theater screens.  Todd Stephens’ version stars perpetual character actor Udo Kier in his first lead role.  He plays a gay beautician reluctantly escaping retirement for one last job.  Kier makes the most of “Swan Song”’s hilariously bitchy dialogue (e.g. “Let her be buried with bad hair”) and showing how his “Mr. Pat” remains fabulous even in reduced circumstances (e.g. the candelabra “wig”).

A different sort of swan song is offered by the Benny Chan action film “Raging Fire.”  It might very well be a bullet- and blood-soaked farewell to the Hong Kong popular cinema brand of balls-to-the-wall action thanks to the mainland Chinese government’s draconian use of its “National Security Law,”  The antagonists are tough but righteous Bong (Donnie Yen) and Bong’s now disgraced former protege Kong (Nicholas Tse).  Kong’s determined to have his revenge on the people he blames for ruining his career, no matter how powerful they may be.  The mainland Chinese government generally frowns on films with corrupt government officials as villains, which is why viewers might be unlikely to see future “Raging Fire”-style films.

Now on to the main Best Of lists.


Part I: Features

The Power Of The Dog–The year’s best feature film brings deep and memorable shades of gray to a genre notorious for its characteristic stark black and white morality.  Director Jane Campion’s anti-Western challenges the genre’s exaltation of straight maleness.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Phil magnetically dominates the screen as one of two 1920s Montana ranch owners.  Even when his character despicably emotionally abuses Kirsten Dunst’s modest Rose, it never feels as if his behavior plays into cultural stereotypes.  Yet the film’s biggest sting comes from the viewer’s eventual realization of why the film’s title is perfect for its story.

Drive My Car–On paper, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s 3-hour movie may sound as if it’s greatly padding Haruki Murakami’s 30-page original short story.  Yet Hamaguchi treats Murakami’s original as a starter kit for his own take, one which begins by filling in characters’ backstories only hinted at in the original.  Theater director/actor Yusuke Kafuku and his young chauffeur Misaki Watari turn out to be kindred souls in finding time has not been a balm for personal grief.  Producing Kafuku’s multilingual version of the Chekhov classic “Uncle Vanya” turns out to be key in different ways to helping these two characters’ grieving processes move to their conclusions.

Titane–With an abandon matched by driving a car at top speed on urban streets, Julia Ducournau’s entertainingly demented French feminist body horror tale gleefully runs over bourgeois aesthetics.  Neither objectification nor sentimentality is allowed to soften car dancing lead character Alexia’s serial killer nature.  Unconstrained describes both her killing methods and her means of sexual satisfaction.  Even when Alexia goes to ground by scamming her way into a rural fire chief’s life, Ducornau’s lead character remains defiant in a different way courtesy of a public deliberately sexy dance and a fantastically strong Ace bandage body wrap able to conceal her increasing pregnancy.

Judas And The Black Messiah–The title of Shaka Khan’s electrifying film refers to Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton and undercover FBI informant William O’Neal.  Daniel Kaluuya masterfully brought to life Hampton’s personal charisma and his incredible political skills at unifying politically opposed Chicago subcultures.  But the film’s also a painful lesson on the limits of Hampton’s personal charisma.  In O’Neal, actor LaKeith Stanfield memorably created a man for whom it was unclear whether he’d turn on his FBI puppet masters or he was continually conning his fellow Black Panthers.   “Anti-white” scolds of the film can soak their heads given it’s a fair description borne out by history to say white law enforcement officials’ willingness to permanently neutralize Chairman Fred went into “by any means necessary” territory.

There Is No Evil–Admittedly, this 70th Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear winner is not an easy film to sit through.  But Mohammad Rasoulof’s film demonstrates once again why real art skillfully disturbs its viewer.  Its four stories about administering the death penalty in Iran questions individual responsibility in a brutal system.  How does a person deal with the reality of being compelled to take another person’s life at the government’s order?  As the viewer learns the motivations and consequences that affect a character’s obedience to the kill order, they wind up considering their own boundaries if they were placed in a similar situation.

The Lost Daughter–Maggie Gyllenhaal’s wonderfully thorny debut feature shows the consequences of culturally assuming that women are inherently maternal creatures.  Her adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s titular novel teases out the emotional similarities between comparative literature professor Leda (Olivia Colman) and young semi-irresponsible mother Nina (Dakota Jackson) during a Greek summer vacation.  Jessie Buckley, who plays the younger version of Leda, ably handles the crucial task of showing how Leda’s marriage to her job and her valuing of personal independence frequently overrides her responsibilities as a mother.  If Gyllenhaal’s film liberates one woman from resignation to motherhood, it will have succeeded.

Riders Of Justice–Director Anders Thomas Jensen’s revenge tale carries within its frames the seeds of its darkly comic deconstruction of the retribution genre.  Eccentric mathematician Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his friends may have common cause with military man Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) thanks to a train “accident” that claims the lives of both a key criminal trial witness and Markus’ wife.  But Jensen shows how healing the strained relationship between Markus and his teen daughter Mathilde deserves as much importance as avoiding the film’s lethal flying bullets.

Wheel Of Fortune And Fantasy–In this unusual year of 2021, Ryusuke Hamaguchi manages to put a second film on the year’s best of list.  This one is a triptych of short stories about love forgotten or rejected.  In each story, a woman who’s failed at finding love in the past is given the opportunity to either change or repeat their earlier mistakes.  This film may appear visually simple, yet its stories roil with deep and complicated emotions.

Night Of The Kings–A forest-bound Ivory Coast prison run by its inmates happens to be the setting for Philippe Lacote’s always hypnotic tale of the power of storytelling.  As new prisoner Roman tries to stay alive until morning by telling tales of the life of notorious outlaw Zama King, the viewer is swept up in the recreations and dramatizations of such moments as the betrayal that ended Zama’s life and magical battles between African rulers.  Yet equally fascinating are the efforts of dying prison kingpin Blackbeard to avoid being deposed and ambitious rival Lass’ efforts to push Blackbeard out of the top seat.

Zola–The greatest stripper saga ever Tweeted gets an entertaining dramatization in Janicza Bravo’s hands.  Its tale of a money-making road trip to Florida that goes south in a non-geographic way works via the contrast between Taylour Paige’s Black commonsensical stripper title character and Riley Keough’s blaccented white trash deceptive fellow stripper Stefani.  The crazier events Zola recounts still feel way more truthful than Stefani’s account of Zola’s rocking garbage bag couture.

Dune Part 1–Big screen science fiction adaptations often create the temptation of letting the spectacle of its imagined worlds overwhelm the human story that’s supposed to be a film’s core.  After literal decades of attempts to bring Frank Herbert’s science fiction epic to the silver screen, “Arrival” director Denis Villeneuve finally succeeds.  By breaking this adaptation into (potentially) two parts, Villeneuve gives the viewer breathing room to inhabit the arid magnificence of Arrakis and to follow and understand the destiny awaiting Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet).  Props to the director for gambling that audiences would make this first half profitable enough that he can show how Atreides’ story ends.

Honorable Mentions:  The Show, In The Heights, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, The Green Knight, Language Lessons, The Souvenir Part II, Pebbles, Raging Fire, Swan Song, Passing, I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking), Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes

Part II–Documentaries

Summer Of Soul—Thinking of Questlove’s debut feature documentary as just a powerful concert film sells his cinematic achievement short.  2021’s best documentary is also a thrilling piece of cinematic cultural archeology.  It both resurrects footage of the unjustly forgotten 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival and rebukes the cultural gatekeepers who ignored the festival in favor of the (predominantly white) Woodstock Music Festival.  This film is a treasure chest of period performances by such seminal Black artists as Gladys Knight and the Pips, B.B. King, and Nina Simone.  But equally fascinating are the reminiscences from both sides of the Cultural Festival stage.

The Velvet Underground–Director Todd Haynes’ outstanding first documentary feature captures the life and times of the Lou Reed years of the legendary art rock band and the cultural milieu the Velvet Underground emerged from.  Andy Warhol’s portrait studies of the individual VU members and VU founding member John Cale’s reminiscences are just two of the powerful primary sources Haynes draws upon to make the film come alive.  The original iteration of the VU may have produced a limited discography.  But the impact of that music on sparking future musical talents demonstrates once again the virtue of quality over quantity.

The First Wave–It is not “too soon” for the appearance of Matthew Heineman’s emotionally intense chronicle of a beleaguered New York City-based medical facility during the first wave of COVID infections.  It’s a snapshot of the chaos and desperation of those months when even vaccines for COVID weren’t available.  Seeing the stress on medical personnel who are regularly confronted by their inability to save lives from the disease makes those who deny the seriousness of COVID appear even more selfish and short-sighted than ever.

499–Rodrigo Reyes’ incredible hybrid documentary surveys contemporary Mexican life to show why the country’s conquest by Spain nearly 500 years ago was not the boon touted by advocates of such conquest.  An unnamed 16th century Spanish conquistador becomes a mostly silent guide through modern day Mexico as he shows how MS-13 gangsters and the desperate migrants hopping a ride on The Beast aren’t that far removed from the conquistador’s contemporaries.

Procession—Robert Greene may be the name director in this film following half a dozen victims of clerical child abuse using drama therapy to find emotional closure.  But these victims break down the subject/director barrier by using the therapeutic recreations or confrontations they commit to film to empower themselves.  The legal system may have repeatedly failed these recipients of clerical abuse.  But the audience is privileged to see the men using this film they made together to take back their lives.

The Neutral Ground–The years-long struggle to remove four statues honoring the Confederacy from New Orleans’ public land provides an entry point for director CJ Hunt to examine the history of America’s toxic romance with the Antebellum South and the evil it represented.  Hunt’s non-confrontational approach does allow advocates for “Southern culture” space to appear as more than just ignorant stereotypes.  But the film ultimately argues that America’s long-standing romance with the so-called Lost Cause is one that preserves and strengthens the worst aspects of America’s soul.

Dear Mr. Brody–Keith Maitland found the right angle to recount the tale of self-styled hippie millionaire Michael Brody, Jr.’s publicly announced plan to give away his entire $25 million fortune (up to $172 million in 2021 dollars) to “anyone in need.”  Instead of centering on the enigmatic young man making this public offer, the director finds the tale’s heart in the stories of some of Brody’s would-be supplicants and a couple of people in his inner circle.  That smart decision shows the real lesson of Brody’s offer comes not from seeing human avarice on display but in learning the often touching dreams and desperation that compels people to seek Brody’s aid.

Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America–Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler’s documentary captures ACLU’s deputy legal director Jeffery Robinson explaining the intertwining of American greatness and the country’s long racist history.  It’s shocking to see how present day innocuous places (e.g. NYC’s Wall Street, New Orleans’ The French Quarter) have strong ties to the slave trade.  Contrary to the whitewashed racism behind opposition to “critical race theory,” the Kunstlers’ film powerfully argues that only through asking questions and confronting its shameful bigoted legacy can America truly move forward racially.

A Sexplanation–Local filmmaker Alex Liu skillfully uses humor and curiosity to undermine viewers’ prurience around sex.  His ultimate goal is to show viewers the inadequacies of current sex education, as seen in a cringeworthy sequence of random adults in S.F.’s Dolores Park being unable to identify human genitalia.  The director’s search for better ways to learn about sex sends him on a cross-country journey to such places as the Kinsey Institute and even a class that teaches age-appropriate sex education.  What other documentary this year allows its director the opportunity to masturbate for science?

Morgana–One of the year’s more intriguing documentary subjects is the titular Morgana Muses.  This divorced middle-aged Australian housewife re-invented and re-discovered herself making woman-oriented erotic videos.  This funny and frequently heartbreaking film follows her over several years as she tries to live her best personal and artistic life while fending off mental illness.

Honorable Mentions:  A Glitch In The Matrix, Burning, Landfall, Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street, Ricochet, North By Current, Lily Topples The World, A Kaddish For Bernie Madoff, Ascension, Writing With Fire

Part III–Shorts

Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Mama–Topaz Jones’ update of the 1970s’ “Black ABCs” flashcards offers a wonderful snapshot of modern-day Black American culture by bringing in everything from the  concept of code switching to the joys of eating sour candy.  Simply the year’s best short film.

What You’ll Remember–Erika Cohn’s heartfelt locally-based short is an expression of love from a mother for the resilience of her children as their working poor family all weathered houselessness in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Maya At 24–Lynne Sachs’ short uses the simple image of her daughter Maya running in front of the camera to offer kinetic snapshots of how our children change physically and emotionally over the years.

Exquisite Shorts Volume 1–Applying the Exquisite Corpse game to filmmaking, Ben Fee and 18 other filmmakers or duos made short films inspired by a pair of unrelated words.  One word begins the film while the other ends it.  Otherwise, anything goes.  The entertaining results include a flying saucer abduction, a back porch conversation, and a “Survivor” style game where unlucky contestants turn into ooze.

Opera–Erick Oh’s breathtaking animated film takes viewers through the various levels of a fictional hierarchical society.  The exquisitely detailed animation is such that several viewings and a good screen will be needed to truly appreciate Oh’s work.

Honorable Mentions:  ASMR For White Liberals, 24,483 Dreams Of Death, Nuevo Rico, Koto: The Last Service, The Leaf, Luv U Cuz, A Ship From Guantanamo, Mission: Hebron, Almost Famous: The Queen Of Basketball

“Maya at 24” Screens at Ji.Hlava Film Festival

Ji.Hlava Film Festival (Czech Republic)
October 26- 31, 2021

The film will be featured in the Fascinations program and will screen on Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 10PM.

Fascinations is a prestigious section for experimental documentaries from all around the world, with the prize for the Best Experimental Documentary Film.

Maya at 24

director: Lynne Sachs
original title: Maya at 24
country: United States
year: 2021running time: 4 min.


The spellbinding time-lapse follows the director’s daughter in a circularly minimalist depiction of the cycle of changes in her face from childhood to adulthood. 


American artist Lynne Sachs (1961) started making films during her studies in San Francisco, where she collaborated with artists like e.g. Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner and others. In her work, she uses various forms of film, combinations of elements of essay, collage, performance, documentary and poetry. Her self-reflective films explore links between personal observations and a wider historic perspective.

AEMI Presents- Day Residue: A Film-Making Workshop on the Every Day, in-person workshop in Cork (NOVEMBER 9)

aemi @ CIFF: Workshop with Lynne Sachs
9 November 2021 / 11am – 4pm / Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork

We are really excited to work with aemi’s Artist in Focus Lynne Sachs to deliver a workshop as part of CIFF 2021. This in-person workshop in Cork will focus on the interplay between poetry and cinema. Based in New York, Lynne Sachs is an award winning filmmaker whose work bridges personal experience and political concerns through her singular approach to filmmaking. Lynne uses both analogue and digital mediums, weaving together text, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design.

‘Day Residue: A Film-Making Workshop on the Every Day’ is open to both emerging and established artists interested in film and writing. The workshop is an excellent opportunity for film artists to deeply consider creative approaches to writing and film, both in relation to their own practices and within wider contexts.

Day Residue: A Film-Making Workshop on the Every Day
Lynne Sachs: According to Sigmund Freud’s theory of dreams, our day residue is composed of the memory traces left by the events of our waking state.  In this workshop, we explore the ways in which fragments of our daily lives can become material in writing for a personal film. While many people in the film industry rely upon a chronological process that begins with the development phase and ends with post-production, our Day Residue workshop will build on an entirely different creative paradigm that encourages artists to embraces the nuances, surprises and challenges of their daily lives as a foundation for a diaristic practice.

The day will be structured by two sessions: in addition to introducing her practice and collectively watching Lynne’s programme of short films curated by aemi for CIFF (see film info below), Lynne will also lead a session on writing and film / writing for film, and the possible interplays between the two – extending to the role of poetry.

In-person screening programme within the workshop:

Lynne Sachs, Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor, 2018, USA, 8 min
From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three artists who embraced the moving image throughout their lives.

Lynne Sachs, Still Life With Women And Four Objects, 1986, USA, 4 minA portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a ‘character’.

Lynne Sachs, Drawn and Quartered, 1986, USA, 4 minOptically printed images of a man and a woman fragmented by a film frame that is divided into four distinct sections.

Lynne Sachs, The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts, 1991, USA, 29 min
A girl’s difficult coming-of-age rituals are recast into a potent web for affirmation and growth.

Lynne Sachs and Anne Lesley Selcer, Girl is Presence, 2020, USA, 5 min
Against the uncertain and anxious pandemic atmosphere, inside domestic space, a ‘girl’ arranges and rearranges a collection of small and mysterious things.

Lynne Sachs and Moira Sweeney, Longings, 2021, USA/ Ireland, 90 seconds
A collaboration exploring the resonances and ruptures between image and language.

Lynne Sachs, Drift and Bough, 2014, USA, 6 minLynne 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.

Lynne Sachs, Starfish Aorta Colossus, 2014, USA, 4 min
Poetry watches film. Film reads poetry. Paolo Javier’s text is a catalyst for digital sculpting of an 8mm Kodachrome canvas.

Lynne Sachs, Maya at 24, 2021, USA, 4 minLynne Sachs films her daughter Maya at 6, 16 and 24.

Lynne Sachs with and for Barbara Hammer, A Month of Single Frames, 2019, USA, 14 min
In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had an artist residency in a shack without running water or electricity. She shot film and kept a journal. In 2018 Hammer, facing her own imminent death, gave her material to Lynne and invited her to make a film.

This is a free workshop, however as numbers are limited, prior booking is essential.

Please email Emer at info@aemi.ie in advance to secure a place.

Lynne Sachs (Memphis, Tennessee, 1961) is a filmmaker and poet 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 feminist 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 moving image work ranges from short experimental films, to essay films to hybrid live performances. Lynne has made 37 films, including features and shorts, which have screened, won awards or been included in retrospectives at New York Film Festival, Museum of Modern Art, Sundance, Oberhausen, Viennale, Sheffield Doc/Fest, BAFICI, RIDM Montréal, Vancouver Film Festival, Doclisboa, Havana IFF, and China Women’s Film Festival. In 2014, she received the Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts.

aemi: Artist in Focus: Lynne Sachs (at the 66th Cork Film Festival)

66th Cork Film Festival
November 16-18, 2021

I will be heading to Cork International Film Festival in Ireland to present “Film About a Father Who” with 10 short films as part of their AEMI artist focus on my work. Honored to share four collaborative film poems: “Longings” made with filmmaker Moira Sweeney (who will be there with us!); “A Month of Single Frames” made with Barbara Hammer; “Girl is Presence” made with Anne Lesley Selcer; and, “Starfish Aorta Colossus” made with Paolo Javier.

Making work since the 1980s Lynne Sachs’ films have incorporated a cross-pollination of forms that extend to the essay film, documentary, collage, performance, and poetry. Deeply reflexive, Sachs’ films to date have outlined a rich interplay between the personal and the socio-political. aemi is delighted to present this overview of selected short works by Lynne Sachs at Cork International Film Festival, many of which are screening in Ireland for the first time. 

In addition to this shorts programme Lynne will also be in attendance at the festival for the Irish premiere of her celebrated feature Film About a Father Who.

From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three artists who embraced the moving image throughout their lives.

A portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a ‘character’.

Optically printed images of a man and a woman fragmented by a film frame that is divided into four distinct sections.

A girl’s difficult coming-of-age rituals are recast into a potent web for affirmation and growth.

GIRL IS PRESENCE Lynne Sachs and Anne Lesley Selcer
Against the uncertain and anxious pandemic atmosphere, inside domestic space, a ‘girl’ arranges and rearranges a collection of small and mysterious things.

LONGINGS Lynne Sachs and Moira Sweeney
A collaboration exploring the resonances and ruptures between image and language.

Lynne 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.

Poetry watches film. Film reads poetry. Paolo Javier’s text is a catalyst for digital sculpting of an 8mm Kodachrome canvas.

MAYA AT 24 Lynne Sachs
Lynne Sachs films her daughter Maya at 6, 16 and 24.

A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES Lynne Sachs with and for Barbara Hammer
In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had an artist residency in a shack without running water or electricity. She shot film and kept a journal. In 2018 Hammer, facing her own imminent death, gave her material to Lynne and invited her to make a film.

aemi @ CIFF: Contested Legacies – Lynne Sachs and Myrid Carten

10 November 2021 / 8pm / Triskel Arts Centre Cinema
8pm Cinema screening and Q&A

The Irish premiere of Lynne Sachs’ celebrated feature Film About a Father Who screens here alongside the world premiere of Myrid Carten’s short film Sorrow had a baby. Both artists will be in attendance for a discussion of their work following the screening.

Both Film About a Father Who and Sorrow had a baby deal, in very different ways, with familial legacy incorporating personal archives and pushing against the traditional boundaries of documentary practice. Myrid Carten’s film Sorrow had a baby is also the first film produced through aemi’s annual film commissioning programme, supported by Arts Council of Ireland.

Myrid Carten, Sorrow had a baby,
 2021, Ireland, 16 minutesaemi Film Commission 2021
‘I absorbed the women in my life as I would chloroform on a cloth laid against my face.’ – Vivan Gornick

Sorrow had a baby explores the mother-daughter relationship through multiple lenses: memory, beauty, inheritance. Who writes the stories in a family? Who can change them?

Lynne Sachs, Film About a Father Who, 2020, USA, 74 minutesOver a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. Film About a Father Who is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, Sachs’ cinematic exploration of her father offers simultaneous, sometimes contradictory, views of one seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame yet privately ensconced in secrets. In the process, Sachs allows herself and her audience inside to see beyond the surface of the skin, the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, Sachs as a daughter discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.

Lynne Sachs: Criterion Octet




Featuring seven short films and a new introduction by the filmmaker

Over a period of thirty-five years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16 mm film, videotape, and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. Film About a Father Who is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. Like a cubist rendering of a face, Sachs’s cinematic exploration of her father offers multiple, sometimes contradictory, views of a seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame yet privately shrouded in mystery. With this meditation on fatherhood and masculinity, Sachs allows herself and her audience to see beneath the surface of the skin, beyond the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, she discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.

This exclusive streaming premiere is accompanied by a selection of experimental short films by Sachs, many of which also reflect her probing exploration of family relationships

  • Which Way Is East, 1994
  • The Last Happy Day, 2009
  • Wind in Our Hair, 2010
  • The Washing Society, 2018
  • Girl Is Presence, 2020
  • E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo, 2021
  • Maya at 24, 2021

Featured in the following collections: women directors, shorts collections, exclusive streaming

Selected clips from original Criterion Channel interview with Lynne Sachs by Tara Young:

Criterion Channel adds “Film About a Father Who” Director’s Commentary

Watch it here: https://www.criterionchannel.com/film-about-a-father-who/videos/film-about-a-father-who-commentary

“Maya at 24” at RPM Festival

RPM Festival 2021

P06: Lucid Bodies

Wednesday, Oct.20, 7:30PM- online
Runtime: 55 mins

notes from the kingdom of the sick – Felicity Palma
Self Portrait with Bag – Dianna Barrie
Monsieur Jean-Claude – Guillaume Vallée
Maya at 24 – Lynne Sachs
Tri and Khanh – Daphne Xu
婦人 (Fujin) – Rachel Makana’aloha O Kauikeolani Nakawatase
Two Sons and a River of Blood – Amber Bemak & Angelo Madsen Minax

Post-screening Q&A
with Filmmakers & Sarah Bliss

Revolutions per Minute festival (RPM Fest) is dedicated to short-form poetic, personal, experimental film, video and audiovisual performance.

Lynne Sachs on “Into the Mothlight” Podcast

EP.32 – Lynne Sachs
by Jason Moyes

Since the 1980s, Lynne Sachs has created cinematic works that defy genre through the use of hybrid forms and collaboration, incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, documentary and poetry.  Her films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. With each project, she investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself. 

After comprehensive career retrospectives at Sheffield Documentary festival in 2020 and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York this year, her latest feature ‘Film about a Father Who’ is being screened on the Criterion Channel along with seven other short films. Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr. a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. ‘Film About a Father Who’ is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. 

We chat about ‘Film About a Father Who’, her approach to experimental documentary making and living and working in San Francisco in 80’s

You can stream 8 of Lynne’s films including FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO on the Criterion Channel here

Interview Transcript

People, places and films Lynne references include:

The work about civil disobedience is ‘Investigation of a Flame:  A Portrait of the Catonsville Nine’ (2001) 

We discuss the films that feature Lynne’s daughter Maya, including ‘Maya at 24‘ (2021) 

Photograph of wind‘ (2001) – the title taken from an expression used by the photographer Robert Frank   

And ‘Same Stream Twice‘ (2012) 

Quote from the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet

“Everything that surrounds us becomes part of us, it seeps into us with every experience of the flesh and of life and, like the web of a great Spider, binds us subtly to what is near, ensnares us in a fragile cradle of slow death, where we lie rocking in the wind.” 

People and places in San Francisco. 

Lynne worked with the Vietnamese filmmaker, writer and composer Trinh T. Minh-ha 

She learned cinematography from Babette Mangolte  who had also worked with Chantal Akerman  

A mention of Walter Benjamin, and in particular his essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ 

She studied with the Swedish American filmmaker   Gunvor Nelson – Read Lynne’s throughs on the films of this artists here. 

The underground film maker George Kuchar 

Barbara Hammer – read about Lynne’s film ‘A Month of Single Frames’ (2019) here, and see an excerpt from ‘Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor’ here

Filmmaker and curator and her “compatriot big brother and dear dear friend Craig Baldwin and the programmes he would curate at Other Cinema  

Seeing Stan Brakhage films at the San Francisco Cinematheque and the Millennium Film Workshop (New York) 

Stan Brakhage’s annual programme at the Anthology film Archives where he included Lynne’s work ‘The House of Science: a museum of false facts’ (1991)  

Lynne mentions her husband, the filmmaker Mark Street – read about Mark here

The First Person Cinema Salon that Stan Brakhage ran in Boulder, Colorado, and showing silent works by Joseph Cornell from his own collection.  

Teaching filmmaking at the Flowchart Foundation 

And remember that you can support Into the Mothlight on Patreon here

About Into the Mothlight Podcast

Experimental film and installation artist Jason Moyes lives and works in rural Scotland and has been exploring the moving image since 2007. His work has been shown in the UK, North America, Europe and Asia. He is a founding member of the Moving Image Makers Collective.