Tag Archives: Still Life with Woman & Four Objects

Part Time Reverie – Curated by Aaditya Aggarwal / Canyon Cinema Discovered

Part Time Reverie
Canyon Cinema Discovered
Curated by Aaditya Aggarwal
October 15, 2022
https://connects.canyoncinema.com/program/prime-time-reverie/#essay

About the Program

From cosmetic commercials to women-led talk shows to narrative melodrama, television catered to feminized viewers is a formally diverse genre, nudging, socializing, and mirroring its spectators in intimate and discerning ways. Capturing the urgent, anchoring spirit of prime time telecasts, Prime Time Reverie stages a fragmented history of television as a women’s medium. The works in this program engage multiple tides of broadcasting, from soapy to confessional, from sensationalist to documentarian. Weaving an absent or corporeal presence through each work, televised portrayals of womanhood—hermetic, large, versatile—incite daydreams among a mass populace, flirting with histories of technology, desire, and visuality.

Screening Premiere: October 2, 2022 @ 3:30pm, Roxie Theater, San Francisco
Streaming Online: October 9-15, 2022


Films in this Program

Introduction to Prime Time Reverie
Aaditya Aggarwal
Program Curator

Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron)
Cauleen Smith
1992, 6 minutes, color, sound, 16mm
CHRONICLES OF A LYING SPIRIT (BY KELLY GABRON) is less a depiction of ‘reality’ than an exploration of the implications of the mediation of Black history by film, television, magazines and newspapers. Using her alter ego, Kelly Gabron, Smith fabricates a personal history of her emergence as an artist from white-male- dominated American history (and American film history). Smith collages images and bits of text from a scrapbook by ‘Kelly Gabron’ that had been completed before the film was begun, and provides female narration by ‘Kelly Gabron’ that, slowly but surely, makes itself felt over the male narration about Kelly Gabron (Chris Brown is the male voice). The film’s barrage of image, text and voice is repeated twice, and is followed by a coda. That most viewers see the second presentation of the imagery differently from the original presentation demonstrates one problem with trusting any media representation.  – Scott MacDonald

Rent from Canyon Cinema

No No Nooky T.V.
Barbara Hammer
1987, 12 minutes, color, sound, 16mm
NO NO NOOKY T.V. posits sexuality to be a social construct in a “sex-text” of satiric graphic representation of” dirty pictures.” Made on an Amiga Computer and shot in 16mm film, NO NO NOOKY T.V, confronts the feminist controversy around sexuality with electronic language, pixels and interface. Even the monitor is eroticized in this film/video hybrid that points fun at romance, sexuality, and love in our post-industrial age.

Restored print of No No Nooky T.V, courtesy of Academy Film Archive, 2018. page1image65823472
Digital file for online presentation courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix
Rent from Canyon Cinema

Removed
Naomi Uman
1999, 6 minutes, color, sound, 16mm
Using a piece of found European porn from the 1970s, nail polish, and bleach, this film creates a new pornography, one in which the woman exists only as a hole, an empty, animated space.

Rent from Canyon Cinema

Waiting for Commercials
Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut
1966-72, 1992, 7 minutes, color, sound, digital video
Part of a restored collection of rare early works by Nam June Paik, Waiting for Commercials is a hilarious compendium of Japanese TV commercials. This early example of Paik’s use of appropriated television imagery as pop cultural artifact was originally created for a performance piece of the same name, which featured Charlotte Moorman and her cello.

Rent from Electronic Arts Intermix

No Land
Emily Chao
2019, 1 minute, b&w, silent, 16mm
no land / no song / nowhere / no now / no home. Dedicated to Black Hole Collective Film Lab.

Rent from Canyon Cinema

MTV: Artbreak
Dara Birnbaum
1986, 30 seconds, color, sound, digital video
Produced for an Artbreak segment on MTV Network, this dynamic “
abbreviated history of animation according to the representation of women, from the cell imagery of Max Fleischer’s Out of the Inkwell series to the contemporary digital effects of television. In Birnbaum’s vision, Fleischer’s spilled inkwell releases cartoon bubbles containing images of women from MTV music videos. With wit and panache, Birnbaum reverses the traditional sexual roles of the producer and product of commercial imagery: The final image is that of a female artist on whose video “ Fleischer.

Music/Audio Collaboration: Dara Birnbaum, Peter Eggers. Commissioned by MTV Networks, Inc.
Rent from Electronic Arts Intermix

Kiss the Girls: Make them Cry
Dara Birnbaum
1979, 7 minutes, color, sound, digital video
Birnbaum manipulates off-air imagery from the TV game show Hollywood Squares in Kiss The Girls: Make Them Cry, a bold deconstruction of the gestures of sexual representation in pop cultural imagery and music. Minor celebrities (who Birnbaum terms “iconic women and receding men”) confined in a flashing tic-tac-toe board greet millions of TV viewers, animating themselves as they say “hello.” Birnbaum isolates and repeats these banal and at times bizarre gestures of male and female presentation — “repetitive baroque neck-snapping triple takes, guffaws, and paranoid eye darts” — wrenching them from their television context to expose stereotyped gestures of power and submission. Linking TV and Top 40, Birnbaum spells out the lyrics to disco songs (“Georgie Porgie puddin’ and pie/kissed the girls and made them cry”) with on-screen text, as the sound provides originally scored jazz interpolation and a harsh new wave coda. The result is a powerful, layered analysis of the meaning of the gestures of mass cultural idioms.

“Yellow Bird”: Spike and Allan Scarth. Vocals: Dori Levine. Audio Mix: William and Allan Scarth. Technical Assistance Thanks: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Fred McFadzen/Ed Slopek, Exploring Post #1, Ted Estabrook, Halifax Cablevision, Bruce Nickson, Madelaine Palko. Soundtrack: “Found a Cure,” Ashford and Simpson, “Georgy Porgy,” Toto. Television Footage: “ Hollywood Squares.” Aired in NY on CBS/NBC.

Rent from Electronic Arts Intermix

That Woman
Sandra Davis
2018, 22 minutes, color, sound, digital video
That Woman uses as source material the original Barbara Walters interview with Monica Lewinsky, which is intercut with a “re-creation ” of the interview. This re-staging uses transcripts of the actual dialogue, as well as a few interpretive scenes that I scripted. Additional visual elements include the “commercial breaks” from the original broadcast, as well as a “breaking news” segment, which announced the death of a film giant.

Ms. Lewinsky is played by a woman bearing a remarkable physical resemblance to the original, and Barbara Walters is played by George Kuchar. The make-up, costumes, set, lighting, and camera set-ups, are a facsimile of the original, albeit without the stunning high-production values displayed in the network original.

Recalling elements of this scandal, the performers bravely made their improvisational way through scenes including a cigar, and an audio performance by our actress of HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. PRESIDENT.

Rent from Canyon Cinema

10:28,30
Paige Taul
2019, 4 minutes, color and b&w, sound, digital video
10:28,30 examines the relationship between myself and my sister, and our relationship to our mother. I am interested in the dissonance of our lives apart and the tension in the desire to be together.

Rent from Canyon Cinema            

Still Life with Woman and Four Objects
Lynne Sachs
1986, 4 minutes, b&w, sound, 16mm
A film portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a prose poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a “character”. By interweaving threads of history and fiction, the film is also a tribute to a real woman – Emma Goldman.

Rent from Canyon Cinema


The Televisual Woman’s Hour
Essay by Aaditya Aggarwal

In what is now widely regarded as the world’s first public demonstration of television, a human face could not be fully transmitted. In 1926, Scottish inventor John Logie Baird came close, visualizing a ventriloquist’s cartoonish dummy named “Stooky Bill” with the help of radio technology. This puppet-like caricature presented stark enough contrasts in color required, at the time, to transmit an image.

Over the years, the television began to capture figures, faces, and objects with sharper clarity. During the 1920s, film laboratories started to photograph stock models to better calibrate desired exposure and color balance of black-andwhite film reels. In the essay “The China Girl on the Margins of Film,” Genevieve Yue describes the use of the inappropriately named “China Girl” in Western countries as a figure used as a color tone “next to color swatches and patches of white, gray, and black.”1 She was almost always unknown, young, female, conventionally attractive, and contrary to the name’s racial connotations, white. Never screened on film or television, her likeness offered engineers a so-called normative “skin-tone” to mute and elevate contrasts for film, so that the white face could be better visualized on screen.

It wasn’t until the 1940s that a televised woman could be perceived in full color. Post-World War II, TV became widely popular across homes and businesses in North America and the United Kingdom. In 1940, Baird began working on creating a fully electronic color television system called Telechrome. This system revealed an image that veered between cyan and magenta tones, within which a reasonable range of colors could be visualized. By the mid 1960s, this television box set began to depict an even wider range of colors. A growing influx of pinks, purples, yellows, and greens in our home screens began to shape newer practices of looking.

Frequently sighted on analog televisions was a rainbow screen, formally known as SMPTE color bars. A testing pattern employed by video engineers, this arrangement compared and recalibrated a televised image to the National Television System Committee’s (NTSC) accepted standard. Often used in tandem with images of the China Girl, SMPTE bars were typically presented at 75% intensity, setting a television monitor or receiver to reproduce chrominance (color) and luminance (brightness) correctly. Its vertical bars—positioned in the screen from left to right, in white, yellow, cyan, green, magenta, red, and blue—were often accompanied by a high-pitched tone.

Enabling more sophisticated, accurate, and textured imagery, this new color television began to usher a distinctly erotic encounter between the appliance and its viewer. From the early 1970s onwards, with the arrival of subscription-based cable networks like HBO, soft-core porn became a staple of private viewing. In her video work No No Nooky T.V. (1987), Barbara Hammer references this genre of late-night, often pay-perview programming, deconstructing its portrayals of female pleasure and physicality. Lensing an Amiga computer with her 16mm Bolex, the artist stages and contorts the alphabet with sensual and cryptic animation. A remix of patterns, shapes, and letters accompanies a sterile, computerized voiceover: “By appropriating me, the women will have a voice.”

Reappropriating pornographic language, No No Nooky T.V. reflects on the tactility of the television. One glimpses a TV in bondage, wrapped in black cloth and white twine. Later, it is clasped in multiple bras. Typed into a computer, one message reads: “Does she like me? WANT ME? DESIRE ME? KILL FOR ME? LUST FOR ME?” Another artfully scribbles “dirty pictures” in bejeweled cursive. There is a hilarity in Hammer’s harnessing of a screen in this material way, made absurd by technoincantations of text littered in different fonts.

Echoing Hammer’s sapphic television, mostly bereft of live bodies or physical performers, is a work like Removed (1999) by Naomi Uman. Using bleach and nail varnish on found European porn films from the 1970s, Uman selectively erases and manually empties out physical bodies of actresses. Whitened, unrecognizable female silhouettes clash against magenta-tinted bedroom surroundings, depicting the televised woman as an open, blank, animated space.

The artist’s removal of the corporeal feminine starkly contrasts against color television’s historic hypervisibility of women’s bodies. Typifying the latter is a work like Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut’s Waiting for Commercials (1966- 72), where a montage of found Japanese commercials from the 1960s is populated by gleeful stock performers, mostly composed of young women. Inhabiting the screen in between programs, female models in ad breaks market a range of products—from Pepsi-Cola to cosmetics to apparels. In Paik and Yalkut’s selection, the televised woman bursts as an object of curiosity for her viewers; albeit in heightened artifice, her joy of selling drink or dress is unparalleled.

Intrigued by representations of femininity and desire, Waiting for Commercials evidences the ubiquity of the televised corporeal feminine; one that Removed visually effaces or that No No Nooky T.V. only teases with mere glimpses—sing-song figures, euphoric, ecstatic, enthralled by touch, excited by commodity These works engage multiple figurations of the “televised woman,” a conception that continually structures and stages a viewer’s sense of tedium, anticipation, and disclosure.

When I approach the history of television, the appliance reveals itself as a predominantly women’s medium. From cosmetic commercials to exclusive interviews to narrative melodrama, women’s television—or television catered specifically to female viewers—is formally diverse, nudging and mirroring its spectators in intimate and discerning ways. Of its many subgenres, one that offers its viewers both entertaining and pedagogical conceptions of womanhood is the soap opera. Whether it is the exaggerated intensity in plot twists of Days of our Lives (1965-present) or the moral polarity of female characterization in Dynasty (1981-89), soap operas instill in us a measure of persistent expectation. In her essay “The Search for Tomorrow in Today’s Soap Operas: Notes on a Feminine Narrative Form,” Tania Modleski emphasizes a soap’s tendency to inevitably return towards anticipation. She notes: “Soap operas invest exquisite pleasure in the central condition of a woman’s life: waiting—whether for her phone to ring, for the baby to take its nap, or for the family to be reunited shortly after the day’s final soap opera has left its family still struggling against dissolution.”

2 In its most effective moments, a soap avoids narrative resolution to unrealistic ends. Dramatizing traditional ideas of motherhood and wifehood, soap protagonists and antagonists continually revert to domestic cliffhangers. In a scene from Days of Our Lives, for example, a slyly dainty and theatrically erudite Alexis Colby (played by a breathy, extravagant Joan Collins) makes eye contact with her ex-husband’s current wife. The camera zooms in on Alexis, the antagonist, as her eyebrow arches and head tilts in quiet disdain and alerted defense. Seesawing between seduction and virtuosity, soap characters surprise each other with turns of phrase. And while each episode oscillates between familial bliss and disorder, a soap never ends.

In certain video works that employ techniques of appropriation and repetition, one can invert and rethink the soap’s televised woman and the format’s grammar of female interiority. Opening Lynne Sachs’s black-and-white experimental diaristic short Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986), for instance, is a tight close-up of a woman putting on a fall coat. We are immediately transported into an urban home with a female occupant—an introductory premise that is outwardly ripe for soap opera. As Sachs’s camera steadily studies the creases and folds of her subject’s clothing and her strands of hair, a voiceover announces: “Scene 1: Woman steps off curb and crosses street.” Sachs repeats the same shot, while the voiceover seemingly jumps ahead in time: “Scene 2: Holding a bag of groceries, she opens the front door of Blue Plymouth.” In its third repetition, there is further narrative disjuncture. The same woman puts on her coat as the voiceover narrator reveals her limitations, casually puzzled: “Scene 3: I can’t remember.” The muted recitation of screenplay directions both embraces and negates the lack of resolution of a TV soap. We are left wondering about the events that may have transpired in the protagonist’s life in the empty gaps of voiceover between scenes. However, Sachs’s repeated, naturalistic mundanity of domestic chores defies the desirous expectation—or the incomprehensible plot turn—that one historically expects of women’s melodrama.

Similarly, Cauleen Smith’s faux-memoirist recollection of her alter-ego Kelly Gabron plays on narrative gaps, unreliable narration and spectatorial mistrust, all elements that fuel television. In her video, Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (1992), a series of photographs are revealed by competing voiceovers. A montage of personal archives and found images sparsely captures a scattered history of Black American television, film, and media.

Stripped of any moving bodies or live action, Smith’s experimental biography rejects the commandments of a televisual motion picture. In a static slideshow of film reels, her work repeats its tellings. She employs two voiceovers: in the first narration, a sterile, automated male voice booms over Kelly’s inaudible narration; the second time, Kelly’s voice is clearer, more comprehensible, eclipsing the man’s. Simultaneously, both voiceovers narrate conflicting accounts of Kelly’s life as a Black woman artist navigating a predominantly white male art world. While the man’s narration flattens her narrative into racist tropes of Black deprivation, Kelly’s account is affective, specific, and anecdotal. Concluding the work, the latter’s narration corrects the errors of the former. Deeply invested in an aesthetics of self-portraiture or autofiction, the works by Sachs and Smith read as artistic variations on or intentional detours from the soap format. Historically, women’s television is also informed by slice-of-life profiles that capture the quotidian feminine in documentary style—the woman-led talk show is, in this sense, an uncanny cousin to the oft-ludicrously fictional soap opera. This subgenre of programming arguably originated from scripted sketchbased programs like the Lucille Ball-led I Love Lucy (1951-57) as well as daytime reality-based shows like The Loretta Young Show (1953-61) and The Betty White Show (1952-54). From BBC’s Woman’s Hour (1946-present) to the French program Dim Dam Dom (1965-73), dramatized stories of real-life female figures often blended with interview-based programs. A female presenter, in turn, became a hyper-televised woman. Her success relied on her performance as a triple-threat in roles of cultural commentator, comedian, and confidante. In solo interviews, journalists like Barbara Walters adroitly shifted or affirmed national narratives, oftentimes muddying their newsworthy interviewees’ vulnerable reputations.

Sandra Davis’s That Woman (2018) wryly replays and reenacts one such cultural moment on television. Airing on March 3, 1999, the now-infamous interview between Barbara Walters and Monica Lewinsky ruled the prime-time slot—a block of broadcast programming taking place during the middle of the evening—across television screens. Satirizing a mythos of televised womanhood, Davis’s work begins as the text “20/20 WEDNESDAY” flashes on ABC’s news network from the original interview. In this archival footage, an iridescent background shimmers while an energetic piano interlude plays. In Davis’s reenactment, conversely, a Lewinsky lookalike impersonates the original’s expressions and responses. She is seated before George Kuchar, who plays Walters in a blonde wig with laughable earnestness. One anecdote from fake-Lewinsky follows another, as the low-budget, camp reenactment is interrupted by selective outtakes from the original conversation. A stern Walters interrogates, while Lewinsky nervously gestures. At one point, there is a close-up of fake Lewinsky’s black leather strapped stiletto boots.

Davis’s reappraisal of this episode captures the coercive candor and pronounced intensity of appointment television, where primetime interviews oddly invoke the narrative melodrama of soap opera. For instance, much like the soap heroine, a talk show’s subject is also activated by the zoom-in, a technique frequently employed in sensationalist news telecasts and scandalous journalistic exposes.

Writing on the invention of the close-up in silent film, Béla Balázs describes its “intimate emotional significance” and “lyrical charm” in Theory of the Film, recalling “audience panic” at the first sight of a close-up of a smiling face in a movie theater.3 The format of a televisual soap furthers Balázs’s argument of a close-up’s ability to reveal “unconscious expressions,” in discomfitingly proximate confines, scanning a poreless, powdered face. In moving close-up, the televised woman spans the expanse of a screen, intimating what Rawiya Kameir describes as the “pointed drama” of a zoom-in in her 2016 review of Solange’s A Seat at the Table. “Moments later,” she writes, “the world beyond her falls away…”4

A zoomed-in figure becomes as solitary as a television box set, her presence both disarmingly novel and routinely domestic. But what are the limits of her close-up? Does the televised woman ever exit our saturated screens? Emily Chao’s hermetic close-up in her black-and-white work No Land (2019) comes to mind. Over the course of two minutes, she zooms into a square-shaped, TV-like black sheet pinned on a tree trunk, surrounded by wild, dense forestry. Invoking the early invention of analog screens, one is unable to visualize any corporeal form or countenance in its frame; the transmitter of images instead becomes the image itself, bearing a haptic imprint of its televisual women—invisibilized stock model, adorned brand ambassador, exalted porn star, scheming soap vamp, jovial female presenter, overexposed subject—always visible in the interiors of your living room.

Edited by Girish Shambu

______________

1 Genevieve Yue, “The China Girl on the Margins of Film,” October 153 (2015): 96–116.

2 Tania Modleski, “The Search for Tomorrow in Today’s Soap Operas: Notes on a Feminine Narrative Form,” Film Quarterly 33, no. 1 (1979): 12–21.

3 Béla Balázs, Theory of the Film: Character and Growth of a New Art, trans. Edith Bone (Dover Publications, 1970). 4 Rawiya Kameir, “Solange, In Focus,” The Fader, Oct. 6, 2016, https://www.thefader. com/2016/10/06/solange-a-seat-at-the-table-essay.

4 Rawiya Kameir, “Solange, In Focus,” The Fader, Oct. 6, 2016, https://www.thefader. com/2016/10/06/solange-a-seat-at-the-table-essay.

“Prime Time Reverie” – Curated by Aaditya Aggarwal / CANYON CINEMA DISCOVERED PROGRAMS


“Prime Time Reverie”
Curated by Aaditya Aggarwal
Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs
September 27, 2022
https://canyoncinema.com/2022/05/03/announcing-the-canyon-cinema-discovered-programs/

“The Televisual Woman’s Hour”
Essay by Aaditya Aggarwal

In what is now widely regarded as the world’s first public demonstration of television, a human face could not be fully transmitted. In 1926, Scottish inventor John Logie Baird came close, visualizing a ventriloquist’s cartoonish dummy named “Stooky Bill” with the help of radio technology. This puppet-like caricature presented stark enough contrasts in color required, at the time, to transmit an image.

Over the years, the television began to capture figures, faces, and objects with sharper clarity. During the 1920s, film laboratories started to photograph stock models to better calibrate desired exposure and color balance of black-andwhite film reels. In the essay “The China Girl on the Margins of Film,” Genevieve Yue describes the use of the inappropriately named “China Girl” in Western countries as a figure used as a color tone “next to color swatches and patches of white, gray, and black.”1 She was almost always unknown, young, female, conventionally attractive, and contrary to the name’s racial connotations, white. Never screened on film or television, her likeness offered engineers a so-called normative “skin-tone” to mute and elevate contrasts for film, so that the white face could be better visualized on screen.

It wasn’t until the 1940s that a televised woman could be perceived in full color. Post-World War II, TV became widely popular across homes and businesses in North America and the United Kingdom. In 1940, Baird began working on creating a fully electronic color television system called Telechrome. This system revealed an image that veered between cyan and magenta tones, within which a reasonable range of colors could be visualized. By the mid 1960s, this television box set began to depict an even wider range of colors. A growing influx of pinks, purples, yellows, and greens in our home screens began to shape newer practices of looking.

Frequently sighted on analog televisions was a rainbow screen, formally known as SMPTE color bars. A testing pattern employed by video engineers, this arrangement compared and recalibrated a televised image to the National Television System Committee’s (NTSC) accepted standard. Often used in tandem with images of the China Girl, SMPTE bars were typically presented at 75% intensity, setting a television monitor or receiver to reproduce chrominance (color) and luminance (brightness) correctly. Its vertical bars—positioned in the screen from left to right, in white, yellow, cyan, green, magenta, red, and blue—were often accompanied by a high-pitched tone.

Enabling more sophisticated, accurate, and textured imagery, this new color television began to usher a distinctly erotic encounter between the appliance and its viewer. From the early 1970s onwards, with the arrival of subscription-based cable networks like HBO, soft-core porn became a staple of private viewing. In her video work No No Nooky T.V. (1987), Barbara Hammer references this genre of late-night, often pay-perview programming, deconstructing its portrayals of female pleasure and physicality. Lensing an Amiga computer with her 16mm Bolex, the artist stages and contorts the alphabet with sensual and cryptic animation. A remix of patterns, shapes, and letters accompanies a sterile, computerized voiceover: “By appropriating me, the women will have a voice.”

Reappropriating pornographic language, No No Nooky T.V. reflects on the tactility of the television. One glimpses a TV in bondage, wrapped in black cloth and white twine. Later, it is clasped in multiple bras. Typed into a computer, one message reads: “Does she like me? WANT ME? DESIRE ME? KILL FOR ME? LUST FOR ME?” Another artfully scribbles “dirty pictures” in bejeweled cursive. There is a hilarity in Hammer’s harnessing of a screen in this material way, made absurd by technoincantations of text littered in different fonts.

Echoing Hammer’s sapphic television, mostly bereft of live bodies or physical performers, is a work like Removed (1999) by Naomi Uman. Using bleach and nail varnish on found European porn films from the 1970s, Uman selectively erases and manually empties out physical bodies of actresses. Whitened, unrecognizable female silhouettes clash against magenta-tinted bedroom surroundings, depicting the televised woman as an open, blank, animated space.

The artist’s removal of the corporeal feminine starkly contrasts against color television’s historic hypervisibility of women’s bodies. Typifying the latter is a work like Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut’s Waiting for Commercials (1966- 72), where a montage of found Japanese commercials from the 1960s is populated by gleeful stock performers, mostly composed of young women. Inhabiting the screen in between programs, female models in ad breaks market a range of products—from Pepsi-Cola to cosmetics to apparels. In Paik and Yalkut’s selection, the televised woman bursts as an object of curiosity for her viewers; albeit in heightened artifice, her joy of selling drink or dress is unparalleled.

Intrigued by representations of femininity and desire, Waiting for Commercials evidences the ubiquity of the televised corporeal feminine; one that Removed visually effaces or that No No Nooky T.V. only teases with mere glimpses—sing-song figures, euphoric, ecstatic, enthralled by touch, excited by commodity These works engage multiple figurations of the “televised woman,” a conception that continually structures and stages a viewer’s sense of tedium, anticipation, and disclosure.

When I approach the history of television, the appliance reveals itself as a predominantly women’s medium. From cosmetic commercials to exclusive interviews to narrative melodrama, women’s television—or television catered specifically to female viewers—is formally diverse, nudging and mirroring its spectators in intimate and discerning ways. Of its many subgenres, one that offers its viewers both entertaining and pedagogical conceptions of womanhood is the soap opera. Whether it is the exaggerated intensity in plot twists of Days of our Lives (1965-present) or the moral polarity of female characterization in Dynasty (1981-89), soap operas instill in us a measure of persistent expectation. In her essay “The Search for Tomorrow in Today’s Soap Operas: Notes on a Feminine Narrative Form,” Tania Modleski emphasizes a soap’s tendency to inevitably return towards anticipation. She notes: “Soap operas invest exquisite pleasure in the central condition of a woman’s life: waiting—whether for her phone to ring, for the baby to take its nap, or for the family to be reunited shortly after the day’s final soap opera has left its family still struggling against dissolution.”

2 In its most effective moments, a soap avoids narrative resolution to unrealistic ends. Dramatizing traditional ideas of motherhood and wifehood, soap protagonists and antagonists continually revert to domestic cliffhangers. In a scene from Days of Our Lives, for example, a slyly dainty and theatrically erudite Alexis Colby (played by a breathy, extravagant Joan Collins) makes eye contact with her ex-husband’s current wife. The camera zooms in on Alexis, the antagonist, as her eyebrow arches and head tilts in quiet disdain and alerted defense. Seesawing between seduction and virtuosity, soap characters surprise each other with turns of phrase. And while each episode oscillates between familial bliss and disorder, a soap never ends.

In certain video works that employ techniques of appropriation and repetition, one can invert and rethink the soap’s televised woman and the format’s grammar of female interiority. Opening Lynne Sachs’s black-and-white experimental diaristic short Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986), for instance, is a tight close-up of a woman putting on a fall coat. We are immediately transported into an urban home with a female occupant—an introductory premise that is outwardly ripe for soap opera. As Sachs’s camera steadily studies the creases and folds of her subject’s clothing and her strands of hair, a voiceover announces: “Scene 1: Woman steps off curb and crosses street.” Sachs repeats the same shot, while the voiceover seemingly jumps ahead in time: “Scene 2: Holding a bag of groceries, she opens the front door of Blue Plymouth.” In its third repetition, there is further narrative disjuncture. The same woman puts on her coat as the voiceover narrator reveals her limitations, casually puzzled: “Scene 3: I can’t remember.” The muted recitation of screenplay directions both embraces and negates the lack of resolution of a TV soap. We are left wondering about the events that may have transpired in the protagonist’s life in the empty gaps of voiceover between scenes. However, Sachs’s repeated, naturalistic mundanity of domestic chores defies the desirous expectation—or the incomprehensible plot turn—that one historically expects of women’s melodrama.

Similarly, Cauleen Smith’s faux-memoirist recollection of her alter-ego Kelly Gabron plays on narrative gaps, unreliable narration and spectatorial mistrust, all elements that fuel television. In her video, Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (1992), a series of photographs are revealed by competing voiceovers. A montage of personal archives and found images sparsely captures a scattered history of Black American television, film, and media.

Stripped of any moving bodies or live action, Smith’s experimental biography rejects the commandments of a televisual motion picture. In a static slideshow of film reels, her work repeats its tellings. She employs two voiceovers: in the first narration, a sterile, automated male voice booms over Kelly’s inaudible narration; the second time, Kelly’s voice is clearer, more comprehensible, eclipsing the man’s. Simultaneously, both voiceovers narrate conflicting accounts of Kelly’s life as a Black woman artist navigating a predominantly white male art world. While the man’s narration flattens her narrative into racist tropes of Black deprivation, Kelly’s account is affective, specific, and anecdotal. Concluding the work, the latter’s narration corrects the errors of the former. Deeply invested in an aesthetics of self-portraiture or autofiction, the works by Sachs and Smith read as artistic variations on or intentional detours from the soap format. Historically, women’s television is also informed by slice-of-life profiles that capture the quotidian feminine in documentary style—the woman-led talk show is, in this sense, an uncanny cousin to the oft-ludicrously fictional soap opera. This subgenre of programming arguably originated from scripted sketchbased programs like the Lucille Ball-led I Love Lucy (1951-57) as well as daytime reality-based shows like The Loretta Young Show (1953-61) and The Betty White Show (1952-54). From BBC’s Woman’s Hour (1946-present) to the French program Dim Dam Dom (1965-73), dramatized stories of real-life female figures often blended with interview-based programs. A female presenter, in turn, became a hyper-televised woman. Her success relied on her performance as a triple-threat in roles of cultural commentator, comedian, and confidante. In solo interviews, journalists like Barbara Walters adroitly shifted or affirmed national narratives, oftentimes muddying their newsworthy interviewees’ vulnerable reputations.

Sandra Davis’s That Woman (2018) wryly replays and reenacts one such cultural moment on television. Airing on March 3, 1999, the now-infamous interview between Barbara Walters and Monica Lewinsky ruled the prime-time slot—a block of broadcast programming taking place during the middle of the evening—across television screens. Satirizing a mythos of televised womanhood, Davis’s work begins as the text “20/20 WEDNESDAY” flashes on ABC’s news network from the original interview. In this archival footage, an iridescent background shimmers while an energetic piano interlude plays. In Davis’s reenactment, conversely, a Lewinsky lookalike impersonates the original’s expressions and responses. She is seated before George Kuchar, who plays Walters in a blonde wig with laughable earnestness. One anecdote from fake-Lewinsky follows another, as the low-budget, camp reenactment is interrupted by selective outtakes from the original conversation. A stern Walters interrogates, while Lewinsky nervously gestures. At one point, there is a close-up of fake Lewinsky’s black leather strapped stiletto boots.

Davis’s reappraisal of this episode captures the coercive candor and pronounced intensity of appointment television, where primetime interviews oddly invoke the narrative melodrama of soap opera. For instance, much like the soap heroine, a talk show’s subject is also activated by the zoom-in, a technique frequently employed in sensationalist news telecasts and scandalous journalistic exposes.

Writing on the invention of the close-up in silent film, Béla Balázs describes its “intimate emotional significance” and “lyrical charm” in Theory of the Film, recalling “audience panic” at the first sight of a close-up of a smiling face in a movie theater.3 The format of a televisual soap furthers Balázs’s argument of a close-up’s ability to reveal “unconscious expressions,” in discomfitingly proximate confines, scanning a poreless, powdered face. In moving close-up, the televised woman spans the expanse of a screen, intimating what Rawiya Kameir describes as the “pointed drama” of a zoom-in in her 2016 review of Solange’s A Seat at the Table. “Moments later,” she writes, “the world beyond her falls away…”4

A zoomed-in figure becomes as solitary as a television box set, her presence both disarmingly novel and routinely domestic. But what are the limits of her close-up? Does the televised woman ever exit our saturated screens? Emily Chao’s hermetic close-up in her black-and-white work No Land (2019) comes to mind. Over the course of two minutes, she zooms into a square-shaped, TV-like black sheet pinned on a tree trunk, surrounded by wild, dense forestry. Invoking the early invention of analog screens, one is unable to visualize any corporeal form or countenance in its frame; the transmitter of images instead becomes the image itself, bearing a haptic imprint of its televisual women—invisibilized stock model, adorned brand ambassador, exalted porn star, scheming soap vamp, jovial female presenter, overexposed subject—always visible in the interiors of your living room.

Edited by Girish Shambu

______________

1 Genevieve Yue, “The China Girl on the Margins of Film,” October 153 (2015): 96–116.

2 Tania Modleski, “The Search for Tomorrow in Today’s Soap Operas: Notes on a Feminine Narrative Form,” Film Quarterly 33, no. 1 (1979): 12–21.

3 Béla Balázs, Theory of the Film: Character and Growth of a New Art, trans. Edith Bone (Dover Publications, 1970). 4 Rawiya Kameir, “Solange, In Focus,” The Fader, Oct. 6, 2016, https://www.thefader. com/2016/10/06/solange-a-seat-at-the-table-essay.

4 Rawiya Kameir, “Solange, In Focus,” The Fader, Oct. 6, 2016, https://www.thefader. com/2016/10/06/solange-a-seat-at-the-table-essay.

Digital506 Announcement of Sachs Retrospective at Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine

Digital506- Costa Rica
May 31, 2022
https://digital506.com/preambulo-inicia-junio-con-las-proyecciones-de-la-retrospectiva-de-lynne-sachs/

ENGLISH TRANSLATION (FROM GOOGLE)

Preamble kicks off June with screenings of the Lynne Sachs Retrospective

Preamble kicks off June with the presentation of the Lynne Sachs Retrospective as a preview of the American filmmaker’s visit to the Costa Rica International Film Festival to be held June 9-18.

To kick off the billboard on Thursday, June 2, starting at 7:00 pm, an exhibition of Film About a Father Who (United States, 2020) .

From 1984 to 2019, Lynne Sachs filmed her father, a lively and innovative businessman. This documentary is the filmmaker’s attempt to understand the networks that connect a girl with her father and a woman with her brothers. The show is for ages 12 and up.

On Friday June 3 starting at 7:00 pm screening of short films. A selection of short films by Lynne Sachs that shows her aesthetic and thematic searches and the experimentation that characterizes a good part of her creations.

The program includes the works: DRAWN AND QUARTERED, STILL LIFE WITH WOMAN AND FOUR OBJECTS, FOLLOWING THE OBJECT TO ITS LOGICAL BEGINNING, THE HOUSE OF SCIENCE: A MUSEUM OF FALSE FACTS, PHOTOGRAPH OF WIND, SAME STREAM TWICE, 2012, CUADRO BY CUADRO , CAROLEE, BARBARA AND GUNVOR, A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES, E•PIS•TO•LAR•Y: LETTER TO JEAN VIGO and MAYA AT 24.

For Saturday, June 4, at 7:00 pm presentation of the documentary Tip of my Tongue . To celebrate her 50th birthday, filmmaker Lynne Sachs brings together other people, men and women, who have lived the exact same years but hail from places like Iran, Cuba, Australia, or the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but not Memphis, Tennessee, where Sachs grew up.

The documentary takes place with all these people discussing the most remarkable, strange and revealing moments of their lives, in a brazen and self-reflective examination of the way events outside our own domestic universe impact who we are.

SPANISH

Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine que se realizará del 9 al 18 de junio.

Para dar inicio a la cartelera el jueves 2 de junio a partir de las 7:00 p.m exhibición de Film About a Father Who (Estados Unidos, 2020).

Desde 1984 hasta 2019, Lynne Sachs filmó a su padre, un animado e innovador hombre de negocios. Este documental es el intento de la cineasta por entender las redes que conectan a una niña con su padre y a una mujer con sus hermanos. La función es para mayores de 12 años.

El viernes 3 de junio a partir de las 7:00 p.m. proyección de cortometrajes. Una selección de cortos de Lynne Sachs que muestra sus búsquedas estéticas, temáticas y la experimentación que caracteriza buena parte de sus creaciones.

La programación incluye las obras: DRAWN AND QUARTERED, STILL LIFE WITH WOMAN AND FOUR OBJECTS, FOLLOWING THE OBJECT TO ITS LOGICAL BEGINNING, THE HOUSE OF SCIENCE: A MUSEUM OF FALSE FACTS, PHOTOGRAPH OF WIND, SAME STREAM TWICE, 2012, CUADRO POR CUADRO, CAROLEE, BARBARA AND GUNVOR, A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES, E•PIS•TO•LAR•Y: LETTER TO JEAN VIGO y MAYA AT 24.

Para el sábado 4 de junio en función de 7:00 p.m. presentación del documental Tip of my Tongue . Para celebrar su cumpleaños 50, la cineasta Lynne Sachs reúne a otras personas, hombres y mujeres, que han vivido exactamente los mismos años pero que provienen de lugares como Irán, Cuba, Australia o el Lower East Side de Manhattan, pero no de Memphis, Tennessee, lugar donde creció Sachs.

El documental transcurre con todas estas personas discutiendo sobre los momentos más destacados, extraños y reveladores de sus vidas, en un examen descarado y autorreflexivo de la forma en que los eventos fuera de nuestro propio universo doméstico impactan quiénes somos.

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

Costa Rica International Film Festival kicks off this week
AM Costa Rica
Published on Wednesday, June 8, 2022
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
https://www.amcostarica.com/Costa%20Rica%20International%20Film%20Festival%20kicks%20off%20this%20week%20060822.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Costa Rica International Film Festival pays tribute to filmmaker Lynne Sachs
June 1, 2022
By Valeria Navas Castillo
https://delfino.cr/2022/06/costa-rica-festival-internacional-de-cine-rinde-homenaje-a-la-cineasta-lynne-sachs

ENGLISH TRANSLATION FROM GOOGLE

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

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

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

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

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

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


SPANISH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Costa Rica International Film Festival Hosts Lynne Sachs Retrospective

June 2022

https://www.costaricacinefest.go.cr/articulo/costa-rica-festival-internacional-cine-inicia-9-junio-alcance-nacional

https://www.costaricacinefest.go.cr/categorias/retrospectiva

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

RETROSPECTIVE DEDICATED TO LYNNE SACHS

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

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

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

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

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

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


https://www.costaricacinefest.go.cr/persona/lynne-sachs


ABOUT & ADDITIONAL PROGRAMS

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

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

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

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

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


OUTSTANDING CINEMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Still Life with Woman and Four Objects” & “Investigation of a Flame” to screen in Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs

Announcing the Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs!
May 3, 2022
https://canyoncinema.com/2022/05/03/announcing-the-canyon-cinema-discovered-programs/

We’re thrilled to finally announce the screening line-ups for our inaugural Canyon Cinema Discovered programs, which will debut this fall in San Francisco and online. Stay tuned for details!

Prime Time Reverie
Curated by Aaditya Aggarwal
From cosmetic commercials to women-led talk shows to narrative melodrama, television catered to feminized viewers is a formally diverse genre, nudging, socializing, and mirroring its spectators in intimate and discerning ways. Capturing the urgent, anchoring spirit of prime time telecasts, Prime Time Reverie stages a fragmented history of television as a women’s medium. The works in this program engage multiple tides of broadcasting, from soapy to confessional, from sensationalist to documentarian. Weaving an absent or corporeal presence through each work, televised portrayals of womanhood—hermetic, large, versatile—incite daydreams among a mass populace, flirting with histories of technology, desire, and visuality. 

  • Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (Cauleen Smith, 1992)
  • No No Nooky TV (Barbara Hammer, 1987)
  • Removed (Naomi Uman, 1999)
  • Waiting for Commercials (Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut, 1966-72, 1992)
  • No Land (Emily Chao, 2019)
  • MTV Artbreak (Dara Birnbaum, 1986)
  • Kiss the Girls: Make Them Cry (Dara Birnbaum, 1979)
  • That Woman (Sandra Davis, 2018)
  • 10:28,30 (Paige Taul, 2019)
  • Still Life with a Woman and Four Objects (Lynne Sachs, 1986)

Playing in the Dark: Watery Experiments
Curated by Chrystel Oloukoï

Playing in the Dark engages the various ways in which blackness haunts the sea and is haunted by the sea. Borrowing from Toni Morrison, “playing in the dark” references the subdued Africanist presence which mediates imaginations of water in the wake of variegated yet entangled transoceanic slave trades but also takes seriously darkness as a subversive ecological milieu, against lures of transparency. In the works gathered here, nothing is left untouched by the confounding qualities of water and its corrosive opacities, from bodies to the environment, to the materiality of film itself. As such, “playing in the dark” also references attempts in Black experimental filmmaking to chart paths in which cameras do not write with light but probe shadows in search of  “an aesthetics of turbulence whose corresponding ethics is not provided in advance” (Glissant, Poetics of Relation).

  • By the Sea (Toney W. Merritt, 1982)
  • What the Water Said Nos. 1-3 (David Gatten, 1998)
  • Aqua (Samba Félix N’diaye, 1989)
  • The Dislocation of Amber (Hussein Shariffe, 1975)
  • Giverny I (Négresse Impériale) (Ja’Tovia Gary, 2017)
  • Pattaki (Everlane Moraes, 2019)
  • What the Water Said Nos. 4-6 (David Gatten, 2006-07)
  • Towards the Colonies (Miryam Charles, 2016)
  • Song for the New World (Miryam Charles, 2021)

Trajectories of Self-Determination: Experimental Cinema’s Embrace of Jazz
Curated by Juan Carlos Kase

Experimental cinema has long embraced American vernacular music as a generative model, whether it supplied a formal template, an affective inspiration, or a point of cultural reference. From the collective polyphony of Charles Mingus’ kinetic ensembles to the gale and squall of Joe McPhee’s storming cornet, the improvisational energies of jazz – as well as blues and other popular-modernist musics – have continued to inspire American avant-garde filmmakers. Collectively, the films in this program explore the myriad ways in which experimental cinema has drawn from African-American improvised music and embraced its spontaneous, collaborative, polyrhythmic, and lyrical energies.

  • Dufus (aka Art) (Mike Henderson, 1970/72)
  • Up and Atom (Doug Wendt, 1970)
  • Not a Music Video (Toney W. Merritt, 1987)
  • Pilgrim (Cauleen Smith, 2017)
  • Mirror Animations [Film #11] (Harry Smith, 1957)
  • 28.IV.81 (Bedouin Spark) (Christopher Harris, 2009)
  • The Clown (Donna Cameron, 1998)
  • Many Thousands Gone (Ephraim Asili, 2015)
  • Four Women (Julie Dash, 1975)
  • All My Life (Bruce Baillie, 1966)

Insurgent Articulations
Curated by Ekin Pinar

A strong interest in the social, political, and cultural contexts has always been part and parcel of a good variety of experimental filmmaking practices, even though canonical works on experimental cinema tend to focus solely on the formal explorations that supposedly reflect the filmmaker’s own (hermetic) subjectivity. Because of this exclusive focus on formal experimentation, the socio-historical, cultural, and representational politics, ethics, and concerns of much experimental work remained unnoticed until recently. Focusing on the theme of the aesthetics of socio-political unrest and protest, this program showcases examples of experimental filmmaking that fictionally constructed or experimentally reconstructed in formally explorative and reflexive ways demonstrations, rallies, marches, and sit-ins.

  • Pig Power (Single Spark Films, 1969)
  • Demonstration ’68 (Dominic Angerame, 1968-74)
  • Solidarity (Joyce Wieland, 1973)
  • Sisters! (Barbara Hammer, 1973)
  • New Left Note (Saul Levine, 1968-82)
  • Gay Power, 1971/2007/2012 (Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett, and The Women’s Liberation Cinema, 2012)
  • On the nature of the bone (Elena Pardo, 2018)
  • A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message (Rhea Storr, 2018)
  • B.L.M. (Toney W. Merritt, 2020)

Supplemental screening:

  • Investigation of a Flame (Lynne Sachs, 2001)

Announcing the Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs! / Canyon Cinema

Announcing the Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs!
Canyon Cinema
May 3, 2022
https://canyoncinema.com/2022/05/03/announcing-the-canyon-cinema-discovered-programs/

We’re thrilled to finally announce the screening line-ups for our inaugural Canyon Cinema Discovered programs, which will debut this fall in San Francisco and online. Stay tuned for details!

Prime Time Reverie
Curated by Aaditya Aggarwal
From cosmetic commercials to women-led talk shows to narrative melodrama, television catered to feminized viewers is a formally diverse genre, nudging, socializing, and mirroring its spectators in intimate and discerning ways. Capturing the urgent, anchoring spirit of prime time telecasts, Prime Time Reverie stages a fragmented history of television as a women’s medium. The works in this program engage multiple tides of broadcasting, from soapy to confessional, from sensationalist to documentarian. Weaving an absent or corporeal presence through each work, televised portrayals of womanhood—hermetic, large, versatile—incite daydreams among a mass populace, flirting with histories of technology, desire, and visuality. 

  • Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (Cauleen Smith, 1992)
  • No No Nooky TV (Barbara Hammer, 1987)
  • Removed (Naomi Uman, 1999)
  • Waiting for Commercials (Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut, 1966-72, 1992)
  • No Land (Emily Chao, 2019)
  • MTV Artbreak (Dara Birnbaum, 1986)
  • Kiss the Girls: Make Them Cry (Dara Birnbaum, 1979)
  • That Woman (Sandra Davis, 2018)
  • 10:28,30 (Paige Taul, 2019)
  • Still Life with a Woman and Four Objects (Lynne Sachs, 1986)

Playing in the Dark: Watery Experiments
Curated by Chrystel Oloukoï

Playing in the Dark engages the various ways in which blackness haunts the sea and is haunted by the sea. Borrowing from Toni Morrison, “playing in the dark” references the subdued Africanist presence which mediates imaginations of water in the wake of variegated yet entangled transoceanic slave trades but also takes seriously darkness as a subversive ecological milieu, against lures of transparency. In the works gathered here, nothing is left untouched by the confounding qualities of water and its corrosive opacities, from bodies to the environment, to the materiality of film itself. As such, “playing in the dark” also references attempts in Black experimental filmmaking to chart paths in which cameras do not write with light but probe shadows in search of  “an aesthetics of turbulence whose corresponding ethics is not provided in advance” (Glissant, Poetics of Relation).

  • By the Sea (Toney W. Merritt, 1982)
  • What the Water Said Nos. 1-3 (David Gatten, 1998)
  • Aqua (Samba Félix N’diaye, 1989)
  • The Dislocation of Amber (Hussein Shariffe, 1975)
  • Giverny I (Négresse Impériale) (Ja’Tovia Gary, 2017)
  • Pattaki (Everlane Moraes, 2019)
  • What the Water Said Nos. 4-6 (David Gatten, 2006-07)
  • Towards the Colonies (Miryam Charles, 2016)
  • Song for the New World (Miryam Charles, 2021)

Trajectories of Self-Determination: Experimental Cinema’s Embrace of Jazz
Curated by Juan Carlos Kase

Experimental cinema has long embraced American vernacular music as a generative model, whether it supplied a formal template, an affective inspiration, or a point of cultural reference. From the collective polyphony of Charles Mingus’ kinetic ensembles to the gale and squall of Joe McPhee’s storming cornet, the improvisational energies of jazz – as well as blues and other popular-modernist musics – have continued to inspire American avant-garde filmmakers. Collectively, the films in this program explore the myriad ways in which experimental cinema has drawn from African-American improvised music and embraced its spontaneous, collaborative, polyrhythmic, and lyrical energies.

  • Dufus (aka Art) (Mike Henderson, 1970/72)
  • Up and Atom (Doug Wendt, 1970)
  • Not a Music Video (Toney W. Merritt, 1987)
  • Pilgrim (Cauleen Smith, 2017)
  • Mirror Animations [Film #11] (Harry Smith, 1957)
  • 28.IV.81 (Bedouin Spark) (Christopher Harris, 2009)
  • The Clown (Donna Cameron, 1998)
  • Many Thousands Gone (Ephraim Asili, 2015)
  • Four Women (Julie Dash, 1975)
  • All My Life (Bruce Baillie, 1966)

Insurgent Articulations
Curated by Ekin Pinar

A strong interest in the social, political, and cultural contexts has always been part and parcel of a good variety of experimental filmmaking practices, even though canonical works on experimental cinema tend to focus solely on the formal explorations that supposedly reflect the filmmaker’s own (hermetic) subjectivity. Because of this exclusive focus on formal experimentation, the socio-historical, cultural, and representational politics, ethics, and concerns of much experimental work remained unnoticed until recently. Focusing on the theme of the aesthetics of socio-political unrest and protest, this program showcases examples of experimental filmmaking that fictionally constructed or experimentally reconstructed in formally explorative and reflexive ways demonstrations, rallies, marches, and sit-ins.

  • Pig Power (Single Spark Films, 1969)
  • Demonstration ’68 (Dominic Angerame, 1968-74)
  • Solidarity (Joyce Wieland, 1973)
  • Sisters! (Barbara Hammer, 1973)
  • New Left Note (Saul Levine, 1968-82)
  • Gay Power, 1971/2007/2012 (Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett, and The Women’s Liberation Cinema, 2012)
  • On the nature of the bone (Elena Pardo, 2018)
  • A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message (Rhea Storr, 2018)
  • B.L.M. (Toney W. Merritt, 2020)

Supplemental screening:

  • Investigation of a Flame (Lynne Sachs, 2001)

CANYON CINEMA DISCOVERED LAUNCHES FOUR NEWLY-CURATED PROGRAMS AND 40 ARTIST-MADE FILMS AND VIDEOS FROM INAUGURAL CURATORIAL FELLOWSHIP
September 26, 2022
https://canyoncinema.com/2022/09/26/canyon-cinema-discovered-launches-four-newly-curated-programs-and-40-artist-made-films-and-videos-from-inaugural-curatorial-fellowship/


For Immediate Release

San Francisco, CA—Canyon Cinema (est. 1961 in the Bay Area), one of the world’s foremost advocates for and distributors of independent moving-image art, announces the full line-up and screening schedule for its inaugural curatorial fellowship, Canyon Cinema Discovered, taking place throughout the month of October 2022. Four newly-curated programs will premiere at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater across two Sundays: October 2nd and 16th. In addition, each program will be available to view online for a week, free and worldwide, on Canyon’s new online screening and publishing platform, Connects

Launched in 2021, Canyon Cinema Discovered is a multifaceted fellowship program that aims to engender fresh perspectives on experimental cinema. For its first iteration, four curatorial fellows were invited to assemble programs from Canyon’s unique collection of artist-made films, as well as works from outside the collection, for in-person screening and online streaming; with the goal of instigating critical engagement with experimental cinema’s evolving legacy. 

From a pool of nearly 200 international applicants, curatorial fellows Aaditya Aggarwal (Toronto and New Delhi), Juan Carlos Kase (Wilmington, NC), Chrystel Oloukoï (Lagos and Richmond, VA), and Ekin Pinar (Ankara) were selected on the basis of their ability to provide original insights on avant-garde and artists’ cinema and media; to illuminate unheralded or forgotten film and videomakers; to organize programs that speak to contemporary social, political, and artistic concerns; and to forge strong intergenerational connections between legacy films in Canyon’s catalog and contemporary work by today’s moving-image artists. 

In continuation with Canyon Cinema’s commitment to providing access to rare artworks in their original medium, fellows had the opportunity to catalyze the creation of new exhibition prints and digitizations of works from the collection. The newly struck 16mm prints made for Discovered will ensure that audiences can continue to experience these works in the best possible light. Meanwhile, the creation of new digital copies of additional films from Canyon’s catalog will help to expand the availability of, and cultivate new audiences for, artist-made cinema. As an outcome of the Discovered project, we are pleased to present new 2K digitizations of political documentation films Demonstration ‘68 (byDominic Angerame), Pig Power (by Single Spark Film, former film unit of the Revolutionary Communist Party), and New Left Note (by Saul Levine); Donna Cameron’s breathtaking handmade film, The Clown, with music by Charles Mingus; and Doug Wendt’s hilarious and charming, Up and Atomwhich showed on Saturday Night Live in 1980. Brand new 16mm prints and digitizations of By the Sea and Not A Music Videoby Bay Area filmmaker Toney W. Merritt, and What the Water Said Nos. 1-3 and What the Water Said Nos. 4-6, made by renowned experimentalist David Gatten in collaboration with the ocean, will also premiere as part of Discovered. 

Other program highlights include a new English-language translation of the 1975 film The Dislocation of Amber, by celebrated Sudanese artist Hussein Shariffe, which will help make this important work accessible to a wider viewership; a rare presentation of Gay Power, 1971/2007/2012 by Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett, and The Women’s Liberation Cinema, featuring a live performance of the film’s script; Duet for Trumpet and Camera, a collaboration between trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and filmmaker Robert Fenz, long out of distribution (courtesy Harvard Film Archive); groundbreaking work by video legends Dara Birnbaum and Nam June Paik & Jud Yalkut (courtesy EAI); restorations of Harry Smith’s Mirror Animations(courtesy Anthology Film Archives), and Mike Henderson’s Dufus (aka Art) (courtesy Academy Film Archive); recent work by acclaimed artists such as Ephraim Asili, Miryam Charles, Sandra Davis, Everlane Moraes, Cauleen Smith, and Rhea Storr; filmmakers new to Canyon’s collection including Emily Chao and Elena Pardo; and much more!

The programs created for Discovered are further enriched and contextualized by new essays written by the curatorial fellows. A full color exhibition catalog, designed by Helen Shewolfe Tseng, accompanies the series, available in both print and digital formats.

Curators: Aaditya Aggarwal  Juan Carlos Kase • Chrystel Oloukoï • Ekin Pinar

Artists: Dominic Angerame  Ephraim Asili • Bruce Baillie  Dara Birnbaum  Donna Cameron  Emily Chao  Miryam Charles  Julie Dash  Sandra Davis  Robert Fenz  Ja’Tovia Gary  David Gatten  Barbara Hammer  Christopher Harris  Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett, and The Women’s Liberation Cinema  Mike Henderson  Saul Levine • Toney W. Merritt • Everlane Moraes • Samba Félix N’diaye • Nam June Paik & Jud Yalkut • Elena Pardo • Lynne Sachs • Hussein Shariffe • Single Spark Film • Cauleen Smith • Harry Smith • Rhea Storr  Paige Taul • Naomi Uman • Doug Wendt • Joyce Wieland

Screening Schedule (The Roxie Theater, San Francisco)

October 2, 2022
Insurgent Articulations, curated by Ekin Pinar
Prime Time Reveriecurated by Aadita Aggarwal

October 16, 2022
Trajectories of Self-Determination: Experimental Cinema’s Embrace of Jazz, curated by Juan Carlos Kase
Playing in the Dark: Watery Experiments, curated by Chrystel Oloukoï

Streaming Schedule (Canyon Cinema Connects website)
October 2-8:Insurgent Articulations
October 9-15: Prime Time Reverie
October 16-22: Trajectories of Self-Determination
October 23-29: Playing in the Dark

About Canyon Cinema
Canyon Cinema Foundation is dedicated to educating the public about independent, non-commercial, experimental, avant-garde, and artist-made moving images. We manifest this commitment by providing access to our unrivaled collection to universities and cultural organizations worldwide, as well as cultivating scholarship and appreciation of artist-made cinema. We ensure the experience of rare film works in their original medium while also reaching new audiences through our growing digital distribution program.

Social Media
facebook.com/canyoncinema
twitter.com/canyoncinema
instagram.com/canyoncinema

Media Contact
Brett Kashmere
Executive Director, Canyon Cinema
brett@canyoncinema.com / 415 626-2255    

Canyon Cinema Discovered is made possible with generous support by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation, and the Owsley Brown III Philanthropic Foundation. 

For more information, visit: canyoncinema.com

Image: Canyon Cinema Discovered graphic by Helen Shewolfe Tseng

Lynne’s Films Currently Streaming on Criterion, DAFilms, Fandor, & Ovid

Film About a Father Who available on Criterion Channel: https://www.criterionchannel.com/film-about-a-father-who

Available on DAFilms: https://americas.dafilms.com/director/7984-lynne-sachs
Drawn and Quartered
The House of Science: a museum of false facts
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
States of UnBelonging 
Same Stream Twice
Your Day is My Night
And Then We Marched 
Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor
The Washing Society
A Month of Single Frames
Film About a Father Who


Available on Fandor: https://www.fandor.com/category-movie/297/lynne-sachs/
Still Life With Woman and Four Objects
Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning
The Washing Society
The House of Science: a museum of false facts
Investigation of a Flame

Noa, Noa
The Small Ones
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
Atalanta: 32 Years Later
States of UnBelonging 

A Biography of Lilith
The Task of the Translator
Sound of a Shadow

The Last Happy Day
Georgic for a Forgotten Planet
Wind in Our Hair
Drawn and Quartered
Your Day is My Night

Widow Work 
Tornado 
Same Stream Twice


Available on Ovid: https://www.ovid.tv/lynne-sachs
A Biography of Lillith
Investigation of a Flame
The Last Happy Day
Sermons and Sacred Pictures
Starfish Aorta Colossus
States of Unbelonging
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
Your Day is My Night
Tip of My Tongue
And Then We Marched

A Year of Notes and Numbers

Lynne Sachs Delivers 2022 Les Blank Lecture at the BAMPFA

My I.O.U to the Real
2022 Les Blank Lecture

Berkeley Art Museum/ Pacific Film Archive
April 6, 2022

When Pacific Film Archive curator Kathy Geritz invited me to give the 2022 Les Blank Lecture, all of my experiences, challenges, obstacles and revelations regarding what constitutes the real came tumbling into my mind. I immediately confronted and embraced the life I’ve lead in the cosmos of the cinema, and more specifically my I.O.U, my gratitude, to that real for simply providing me with so much to think about and so much to record with my camera. 

Tonight, I will share with you a selection of observations I have made in the course of creating approximately 50 films, installations, live performances and web art projects. Whether a 90 second ciné poem or an 83 minute feature, I learned early-on that my process of making films must push me to engage directly with the people with whom I’m working in a fluid and attentive way. I’ve never been truly comfortable with the term “director” or the hierarchical configuration of a movie set. I am a filmmaker who looks for other committed artists who are willing to collaborate with me in an adventure. These inventive souls are not my crew. We talk. We listen to each other. I pay them for their time and expertise. And then we set off on a journey.

Of course there are the people in front of the camera, what many documentary makers refer to as their subjects. In narrative film, these are the actors or, thinking in the aggregate, the cast. Again I find both of these monolithic terms anathema, an insult to their human presence. From my very first 16mm film “Still Life with Women and Four Objects” made in 1986, I asked the woman, the star in the film, to extract herself from “the objects” in order to shake things up for me. I wanted her to shift away from simply being a living, breathing prop.  I invited her to bring something from her home that meant a great deal to her to our first day of shooting. She delivered a framed black-and-white photograph of early 20th century feminist-anarchist Emma Goldman. At the time, I had no idea who Emma was. I quickly learned. I, and with my four minute film, were forever changed. I’d claim for the better. I’ve been listening and learning from all the people involved in my films ever since.

This leads me to another perhaps more intricate form of entangling myself in the creative process. Between 2011 and 2013, I worked with seven Chinese immigrants between the ages of 55 and 80 living in the so-called “Chinatown” areas of NYC. Together, we made “Your Day Is My Night”, a hybrid documentary on their immigration experience and their lives in the place each of them calls home. Hybrid is the keyword here, for it was my interaction with these participants that sparked me to find a completely new approach to my documentary practice. I started this project with the intention of discovering more about these people’s lives through a series of one-on-one audio interviews. Then, I turned each of these conversations into a monologue that I gave back to each person so that they could perform their own lives by both memorizing their lines and also improvising, all in a dramatic context that gave them the freedom to express themselves, and a release from the intimidation and vulnerability of not knowing what would happen next. According to the seven people in my film, this in turn gave them the liberty to play with their spoken words with whim and impetuousness, not to feel indebted to the limitations of  their own historic realities. At my performers’ insistence, we ultimately moved the hybrid nature of the piece one step further. As a group, they pushed me to search for a story beyond their lives. They wanted me to make their job of articulating their experiences more interesting so I brought in one “wild card”, a Puerto Rican woman actor who would move into their shared, filmic apartment. Her arrival transformed the piece into a story that embraced each person’s immigration experience without being confined by it. 

Over a two year period, we took our live performance with film to homeless shelters, museums, universities and small theaters throughout New York City. I then turned our collective work into a film. From this experience, I learned that even a more conventionally narrative film is simply a documentation of a group of people making something together. My integration of a traditional observational mode with a more theatrical engagement gave me the chance to reflect on the work I had done over 25 years earlier, as the sound recordist on Trinh T. Minh-ha’s “Surname Viet Given Name Nam”. This  film also challenges monolithic notions of documentary truth. Some of you saw it in this very room when Minh-ha gave the 5th Annual Les Blank lecture.

I also wanted to share something about the exhibition of “Your Day is My Night” which adds another layer to our conversation around collaboration both within the film’s production structure and its exhibition.  The first evening that we presented this piece to an actual audience, there was a rather typical post-screening Q and A.  There I stood with all of the participants in the film. When members of the audience asked these seven Chinese immigrants to the US how they felt about working on this rather experimental film, they all became quiet, then they whispered together and a few minutes later, one spokesperson came forward to say simply “We do what Lynne tells us to do.”  There was a hush in the room. No one knew what to say. Honestly, I felt embarrassed, at a loss for what to do.  I put my microphone down, walked over to the group and explained that in the US it was okay for them to say whatever they wanted publicly, to express their feelings about their experiences without any punitive repercussions.  At the next screening, they each energetically took the mic from me. With the help of a translator, they articulated their own interpretation of our shared creative process.  Never before had they had the opportunity to talk so freely in public, in China or in the US.

The performers in “The Washing Society” which you will see tonight gave me another kind of gift in terms of their response to and expansion of my creative practice.  In 2014 and ’15, playwright Lizzie Olesker and I traipsed around New York City trying to record interviews with laundry workers. Most of them were recent immigrants who did not yet speak English or have their legal documents for living in the United States. Neither their bosses nor their husbands wanted them to talk to us. Thus, they refused to be on camera. So the two us confronted this “production obstacle” head-on. We conducted a series of informal non-recorded interviews and then we wrote a play that used  the stories we’d heard as source material for a live performance and film.  We called it “Every Fold Matters”. We worked for over a year with four professional actors and dancers who were open to devising a strategy for making a site specific piece that would be performed in actual laundromats around the city. In the process, we borrowed from reality in order to create a new  hybrid reality.

Veraalba, one of our performers, was formally trained as a dancer but also deeply influenced by the radical choreographic gestures of feminist thinker and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer. Through her physical investigations of folding laundry, the piece gained an exhilarating gestural vocabulary that gave our show and then our film its rhythm and its musicality.

Jasmine, an actor in the film with traditional theater experience, embraced our whole, inclusive process so profoundly that she transformed herself from an eager, responsive actor into a generative contributor. One day during our rehearsals, she texted me with the words “I’ve been living with my grandmother Lulabelle all of my life but she never told me she had worked in a laundry from 1968 to 1998 until I started working with you all on this show.” A few days later, we were filming with Jasmine and her grandmother while she conducted the first documentary interview of her life. She asked her grandmother about her collective actions for better wages and working conditions. The openness of our process gave her the chance to find out more about the woman with whom she’d lived all her life.  In addition, this intimate cross-generational exchange between two women in a family gave a new layer to our film.

Now, I would like to take you on a journey through my aesthetic, material trajectory as an experimental documentary filmmaker. I need the word experimental here because it commits me to pursuing formal investigations of the medium. This is the only way that cinema can continually tackle, confront, even tickle my curiosity about the world. What is particular to me about cinema is its embrace of sound with, alongside, underneath and beyond image. In the late 1980s, I made my first longer format documentary “Sermons and Sacred Pictures”, a 30 minute portrait of Reverend L. O. Taylor, a Black Baptist minister who also shot 16mm film and collected sound recordings. At a certain point in the film, audiences are in total darkness while they hear the chatter of church congregants at a baptism in a river. At the time, this film was rejected for TV broadcast because the station producer assumed viewers would give up and turn off their televisions. Tonight I think about this film I made in my late 20s with a new perspective. I think at this moment about what theorist and poet Fred Moten calls “hesitant sociology”, and about the ways that we can integrate a propensity for abstraction into an endeavor to bring attention to a subject that might not have received its rightful place in history. Where do  education and exposition end and aesthetic rigor begin?  Do we necessarily lose the impact of the former when we give light to the later?

In “Which Way is East”, a diary film made in Vietnam in 1994, I begin with a series of richly colored Kodachrome brushstrokes juxtaposed with my own voice-over remembering what it was like to watch televised images of the war in the late 1960s.  As a six year old child, I would lie on the living room couch with my head hanging upside down watching the screen, inverting the images, unintentionally abstracting them somehow. At that age, I just barely understood the dismal war statistics I was hearing. Within my film,  I decided to make this oblique reference to the archival images of the Vietnam War rather than delivering actual illustrations from the time period. That was enough. I expected my audience to work hard to fill in this absence, a pointer to the horrifying collateral damage of the US involvement in Vietnam.  Each viewer has to reckon with their own relationship  to this history, as full or empty as it might be.  At the time, I was cognizant of Belgian filmmaker  Claude Lanzmann’s refusal to provide a visual proof in the form of archival footage from the concentration camps in his 1985 “Shoah”, an episodic series on the Holocaust. At that time in history, forty years after the end of World War II, he felt that that haunting power of those images would be even more searing if his audience had to rely on their internal repository. Just in the last year, I had the chance to read historian and theorist Tina M. Campt’s new book Listening to Images in which she prompts readers to look at archival footage in a way that forces us to hear what was never recorded, to bring our imaginations into the synthesis and recognition of a partial history that needs, at long last, a place in our communal consciousness. The lacunas are mended by my, your and our active modes of participation. Both Lanzmann and I resisted the inclusion of images of horror, cautious about our own complicity by including them, assuming their implicit power that comes from absence.  

Two weeks ago, I went to Berlin to shoot for a new film I am making called “Every Contact Leaves a Trace”.  I spent several days talking with an 80-year old German woman about many things, including the moment when she first became aware of the concentration camp atrocities that had been committed by the Nazis, the everyday men and women who lived in her own town.  She had the chance to watch archival footage of systematic killings and so much more in Alan Resnais’ 1956 documentary “Night and Fog”. It all became absolutely clear.  Here was the proof.  When I heard this woman speak of the potency of these images, I immediately asked myself if I had failed in my own work. I’d assumed the existence of an internal archive of the horrors of the Vietnam War.  In fact, it might not have been there, at least to a younger audience.  Had I failed in my own obligation to manifest a history that needed examination?

In addition to a deep involvement from my compatriots in front of and behind the camera, I have come to expect a parallel engagement with my audience. In order for a multi-layered cinematic experience to happen, there must be a “synaptic” event that transpires. Only through this internal occurrence can we register meaning. My awareness of the aperture inside the camera convinces me that we must find intimacy with light to accomplish this kind of charged flow from screen to eye.  I have had the same Bolex 16mm camera since 1987. I know her well and feel as if she knows me.

As we sit here together in this room, I would like to share with you just five images from my entire career as a filmmaker. They are part of my IOU to light, the only continuous collaborator who has remained with me for all of these years. 

This is an image from “Still Life  with Woman and Four Objects” (1986) a film falls somewhere between a painting and a prose poem. It’s a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts, interweaving history and fiction.  This is the film I mentioned earlier with the framed photo of Emma Goldman.

In this image of an avocado pit just peeled and prepared for growth, you see a slant of sunshine coming through a skylight in the ceiling.  This is the first time that I truly learned how to transform – via an awareness of aperture and f-stops – what the eye sees into something only the camera can witness.

In “Window Work” (2001) a woman drinks tea, washes a window, reads the paper– simple tasks that somehow suggest a kind of quiet mystery. I am the performer!

Here, my hermitic, domestic space is ruptured by a backlit newspaper. It glows. As cinematographer and performer, I discover how to sculpt light through silhouette.

In, “Your Day is My Night” (2013) immigrant residents of a “shift-bed” apartment in the heart of New York City’s Chinatown share their stories of personal and political upheaval.

Here light transforms Mr. Tsui’s profile into a gently sloping landscape. He fills the frame completely and in the process conveys awareness and presence.

Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, I  shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital images of my dad. “Film About a Father Who” (2020) is my attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. Here, my father has photographed three of my siblings playing in the water in the early ‘90s. 

This time worn image reveals my dad’s point of view. There is no detail. Only light and color affirm a quality of compassion and observation, simply through the texture.

This is one of the last shots from “Film About a Father Who”. It’s clearly a degraded piece of old video, having lost all of its color and detail. And yet, in its starkness, this high contrast black and white image evokes a pathos.  After spending 74 minutes with me in the film, viewers are able to fill in what is missing. 

In each of these light-sculpted images, I explore the concept of distillation which has always been at the foundation of my work.  I am an experimental filmmaker and a poet. Thus I am far more interested in the associative relationship between two things, two shots or two words than I am in their cause and effect, or their narrative symbiosis.  For me, a distillation is a container for ideas and energy, a concise manifestation of a multi-valent presence that does not depend on exposition. A distillation is not a metaphor; it’s more like metonymy and synecdoche, where a part stands in for a whole, and is just enough.

I once asked a student of mine why she wanted to make documentary films.  She told me that she wanted to make gifts.  Just that single word helped me to better understand the ways that this kind of practice can embrace so much about life.  Working with and beside reality allows us to feel relevant but also gives us the chance to share something we love with others. Through his engaged, compassionate, ingenious approach to filmmaking,  Les Blank gave us approximately 50 gifts. His vision of music, food, culture, and humanity came through every frame of film.

I too have made about 50 films, web art projects, performances and installations.  Like Les, each endeavor reveals my curiosity and awe for the world around me, my I.O.U to the Real.