A Reality Between Words and Images: Films by Lynne Sachs
Admission starts at $5
Date October 27, 2022, 7pm
172 Classon Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205 USA
Please join us at e-flux Screening Room on Thursday, October 27 at 7pm for A Reality Between Words and Images,a program of selected filmsby Lynne Sachs, and a post-screening conversation with Sachs and her collaborators Kristine Leschper and Kim Wilberforce.
In this screening we invite you to watch and discuss select works by Sachs that defy genre through the use of hybrid forms and cross-disciplinary collaboration, incorporating the essay film, collage, performance, documentary, and poetry. Sachs’ self-reflexive films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. With each project, she investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself searching for a reality between words and images.
The screening is part of Revisiting Feminist Moving Image, a series at e-flux Screening Room aimed at revisiting the origins, contexts, developments, and impact of feminist video art and experimental cinema around the world from the 1960s through today.
The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts(1991, 30 minutes) Offering a new feminized film form, The House of Science explores both art and science’s representation of women, combining home movies, personal remembrances, staged scenes and found footage into an intricate visual and aural collage. A girl’s sometimes difficult coming of age rituals are recast into a potent web for affirmation and growth.
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam(1994, 33 minutes) When two American sisters travel north from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, conversations with Vietnamese strangers and friends reveal to them the flip side of a shared history. “The film has a combination of qualities: compassion, acute observational skills, an understanding of history’s scope, and a critical ability to discern what’s missing from the textbooks and TV news.” (SF Bay Guardian)
Window Work(2000, 9 minutes) A woman drinks tea, washes a window, reads the paper—simple tasks that somehow suggest a kind of quiet mystery within and beyond the image. “A picture window that looks over a magically realistic garden ablaze in sunlight fills the entire frame. In front, a woman reclines while secret boxes filled with desires and memories, move around her as if coming directly out of the screen.” (Tate Modern)
The Task of the Translator (2010, 10 minutes) Sachs pays homage to Walter Benjamin’s “The Task of the Translator” (1923) through three studies of the human body. First, she listens to the musings of a wartime doctor grappling with the task of a kind-of cosmetic surgery for corpses. Second, she witnesses a group of Classics scholars confronted with the haunting yet whimsical task of translating a newspaper article on Iraqi burial rituals into Latin. And finally, she turns to a radio news report on human remains.
Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor(2018, 8 minutes) From 2015 to 2017, Lynne Sachs visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer, and Gunvor Nelson—three multi- faceted artists who have embraced the moving image throughout their lives. From Carolee’s eighteenth-century house in the woods of Upstate New York to Barbara’s West Village studio to Gunvor’s childhood village in Sweden, Lynne shoots film with each woman in the place where she finds grounding and spark.
Figure and I(2021, 2 minutes) Singer-songwriter Kristine Leschper asked Lynne to create a film in response to her song “Figure and I.” Lynne immediately recognized that Kristine’s deeply rhythmic music called for some kind of somatic imagery. She needed to move with her body and her camera. Lynne then invited her friend Kim to be in the film and to interpret the song through her vibrant wardrobe and her precise, ecstatic clapping.
Accessibility –Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue. –For elevator access, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space. –e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the event space and this bathroom.
IU Cinema September 24, 2022 1213 E. 7th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM Free, but ticketed
Lynne Sachs explores the possibilities of a new creation
myth in A Biography of Lilith through a mixture of collage, mythology,
cabalistic parable, folklore, interviews, and memoir to provide a narrative of
the first woman and, perhaps, the first feminist. Situated on the margins of
both documentary and experimental narrative, the film spans Lilith’s betrayal
by Adam in Eden to her revenge story in the present-day, as a mother who gives
up her baby for adoption and works as a bar dancer. Featuring music by Pamela Z
and Charming Hostess. [35 mins; documentary; English]
The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts inspects and interrupts
representations of women in the house, the museum, and in science, bridging
between public, private, and idealized spaces to generate a new, dual image of
women, of “a ‘me’ that is two—the body of the body and the body of the mind.”
Through a lively assemblage of home movies, personal reminiscences, staged
scenes, found footage, and voice, Sachs’ feminized film form reclaims the body
divided among these spaces: “We look at ourselves from within, collect our own
data, create our own science, begin to define.” [30 mins; documentary; English]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
director: Lynne Sachs original title: The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts year: 1991 running time: 30 min.
synopsis This defiant feminist mosaic subversively recontextualizes archived materials dating back to the 1950s. Footage taken from a medical laboratory, an educational film on menstruation, and an amateur fantasy film about a mermaid gain whole new meanings. The repurposed shots represent the female body as a kind of freak show of bodily processes, sexuality, and maladaptation. Opposing the distorted imagery of women rooted in our patriarchal world is American poet Gertrude Stein, who seeks to bridge the gap between the “body of the body” and the “body of the mind” and achieve the integrity denied to women by Western society.
“I deconstruct a purely cinematic reality that to me seems disturbing, humorous, and just plain visually provocative. The composition of a single frame displaces the seedbed where I can cultivate my paintings and collages.”
biography Lynne Sachs (1961) is an American experimental filmmaker and poet. She studied film and history in San Francisco and at Sorbonne. Her work blurs the lines between live-action film, documentary, collage, and performance. Sachs tends to explore feminist and socially critical themes. Ji.hlava IDFF 2021 will also present her film Maya at 24.
In The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts (1991), Lynne Sachs exposes the edifice of scientific “facts” with which the male-dominated disciplines of science and medicine have constructed an image of what a woman is.
Opposing the distorted imagery of women rooted in our patriarchal world is American poet Gertrude Stein, who seeks to bridge the gap between the “body of the body” and the “body of the mind” and achieve the integrity denied to women by Western society. We bring here the script of this experimental film, that is screened online till 14th November at Ji.hlava IDFF online.
VOICE OVER: I met him while I was on the table, you know they you put on the table, put you in the stirrups and he walks in. At first, it’s a kind of an awkward introduction. Second, maybe he didn’t mean it, but I don’t think he had any inclination to be warm or kind or talking. It was a real quick examination. I was still on the table. I was pregnant. He said “Any questions?” His hand was on a doorknob. And I, of course, said “No.” I had a zillion questions. And I can’t tell you how tall he was. I was lying down. But he always struck me as short, cold and with glasses, and he may not look like that at all.
TITLE: The House of Science: a museum of false facts
RECORDING OF MALE DOCTOR GIVING A LABOR LESSON IN DELIVERY ROOM: Doctor: That’s the spirit I like, very nice indeed. I like that spirit when you take charge of yourself. Woman: Yes. Doctor: You won’t have anyone messing you about. That’s how it should be. Woman: Have you seen what the head looks like? Doctor: It’s covered with hair. Woman: What color? Nurse: Black. Woman: Dark hair. It will come out now showing, then go back. Popping in and out like that until it gets far enough out to stay out. Woman: Yes. Doctor: Then that’s what we call the crowning. Twenty minutes after that you’ll probably have your baby. Woman: You know it seems extraordinary that frail women must do all this pushing. Doctor: I often think that. Doctor: Yes, it’s a boy. Woman: Is he all right? Doctor: Oh yes. Woman: Listen!
LYNNE’S ONSCREEN DIARY & V.O: The doctor’s office is full blond Victorian women patting their stomachs, smiling, Monalisa-esque, knowing. They welcome 18 year old me to their coterie of framed ladies-in-waiting. Waiting for the “pop,” the baby. And meanwhile, they sell pharmaceuticals. They pose in their nicely framed images hung ever so carefully around the waiting room of Doctor L. I am waiting too, for sex, and much, much later the “pop.” But now, it’s sex, with a someone I don’t know, as of yet. It’s an abstract meeting but I want to be prepared. I’m here for one thing, Doctor L., the armor. It’s too bad though, I don’t say “sex.” I say “college.” “Give me a diaphragm, Doctor G., so I can go to college.” He gives me the shield but doesn’t tell me how to use it. I leave his office, fully equipped, protected, completely incapable of placing that plastic, or is it rubber, sheath over my cervix. Where is my cervix?
The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts
LYNNE’S VOICE: But, uh, I don’t know if you want to talk about this, so if you don’t want to talk about this, but it interests me. It’s not something you have to …Do you think that, at the time, I mean that a lot of women, for many women, that dealing with that, whether it’s abuse or exploitation or whatever from ….?
VOICE OVER POEM BY GERTRUDE STEIN READ BY THREE WOMEN: That’s wonderful …woops … okay girls … lifting belly is so strong, lifting belly is so strong, lifting belly together, lifting belly oh yes, remember what I say, do you? (Laugh) That’s a mother’s line. Okay let’s start all over and we’ll get it this time. It will give me a feeling of completion. Lifting belly is so strong, I want to tell her something, wax candles, we have brought a great many wax candles, some are decorated. They have not been lighted. I do not mention roses. Exactly. Actually. Questions and butter. I find the butter very good. Lifting belly is so kind. Lifting belly fattily. Doesn’t that astonish you? You did want me. Say it again. Strawberry. Lifting kindly belly. Sing to me I say. Some are wives not heroes. Lifting belly merrily. Sing to me I say. Lifting belly. A reflection. Lifting belly joins more prizes. Fit to be. I have fit on a hat. Have you. What did you say to excuse me? Difficult paper and scattered. Lifting belly is so kind.
LYNNE’S DIARY ON SCREEN: My memory of being a girl included a “me” that is two. I am two bodies – the body of the body and the body of the mind. The body of the body was flaccid and forgotten. This was the body that was wet with dirty liquids, holes that wouldn’t close, full of smells and curdled milk. Of course there was the skeleton. This was assumed and only reconsidered upon my very rare attempts at jumping farther than far enough, clearing the ditch, lifting the heave-ho. But the body of the body was not the bones. This body wrapped and encircled the bones, a protective cover of flesh, just on the other side of the wall I call skin.
ANTHROPOLOGICAL TEXT READ OUTLOUD BY LITTLE GIRL WHO MAKES MISTAKES (SUBTITLED): Let us take the next example, that of a born thief. Louis C. Magnan writes of her, aged nine, was the daughter of a mad father, always in …. a condition of sexual excitement. She was of weak intelligence. Her instincts had always been bad, her conduct turbulent, and her mind incapable of concentration. At three, she was a thief and laid hands on her mother’s money. At five, she was arrested and conveyed to the police office. She shrieked, tore off her socks and threw her dolls into the gutter and lifted her shirts in the street. But on looking at her photograph, one perceives that although only nine years old, she offers the exact type of the born criminal. Her jaws and cheekbones are emmense, the frontal sinews strong, the nose flat. She looks like a grown woman – nay, a man.
GIRLS WHISPERING: Remember … remember … the next day … tomorrow… the next day … tomorrow … remember … tomorrow … remember … tomorrow … remember … this movie and there were these women … with elephant snouts … and really long …. I know I saw that movie too … they jumped off the screen …the next day … remember.
LYNNE’S DIARY ON SCREEN: The body of the body moves in cycles and with every repetition there is a sensation of pain. The reminder, emanating from the core, the indefinable marrow that can never be touched, is a cleansing, scarring, tactile, silent exclamation. The arrival of the body of the body forces the body of the mind to take notice, begrudgingly so. With legs crossed, the blood is caught just before it crosses the border into the public domain.
WOMAN’S VOICE: But I always thought black widow spiders spit, cause I really loved black widows, and I would always go out and stand by them and I ran to get my father to show him, and he said that I couldn’t go near it, and I said that I wouldn’t ever touch it. You know, I was just going to watch it. And he said “No, cause it will spit at you!” And I believed that unquestioningly, until, I was, and I told everyone “Oh yeah, black widows spit….” I don’t think black widows spit. It doesn’t even sound logical. I don’t even think they have any apparatus to spit.
VOICE FROM ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY SCIENCE FILM: Body hair appears, most noticeably under the arms and in the pubic region. Menstrual or monthly periods usually happen every four weeks, however they’re likely to be quite irregular for the first two or three yeas while a girls is still maturing. And later a cycle of perhaps five weeks or three weeks is perfectly normal. It takes time to get used to the changes of adolescence which at first may seem so strange. However, for many girls menstruation brings no problems and little discomfort, only the extra time needed for cleanliness.
LYNNE’S DIARY AND V.O.: Filled with infectious, infected liquids, we hold in the blood, the water, the sneeze, the wax, the hair, the puss, the breath. All that is ours to let go, to release onto this earth, is held in, contained. I am the cauldron of dangerous substances.
WOMAN’S V.O.: Well, as a young child I always had a lot of coughing and stuff and my mother would never allow me to spit what came out of my chest. Because she said that “Girls don’t spit. They swallow it. You know you don’t do that because it’s vulgar.”
MAN’S VOICE FROM OLD DOCUMENTARY: Science began when man began to observe and make note of his observations.
GIRL WHISPERING: … the next day … tomorrow …the next day tomorrow I know I saw that movie too … the next day … tomorrow.
GIRLS’ VOICES FROM OLD MOVIE: For someone who has so many outside activities. She’s smart, that’s why. Sure she’s smart, but she’s also human. Besides, this thing is all over school now! Is that true? Have the rest of you heard about this?
THREE WOMEN ON SCREEN SPEAKING: Woman #1: Prostitutes have longer hands and larger calves but their feet are small. Woman #2: While criminals have the darker hair and eyes, it is the prostitutes whose fare and red hair now surpasses the normal. Woman #3: Female thieves, above all prostitutes, are inferior to moral women in cranial capacity and circumference.
GIRLS WHISPERING: I saw this movie called “The Secret Garden.”
WOMAN’S V.O.: My dad was always disappointed because my mother never gave him a son. We rode his butt when we found out men are the ones that give a child gender. Cause he had really harassed my mom for years because she didn’t have a son. So we had to tell him that it was his fault. Cause he really, really wanted a boy. I was the closest thing that he had to a son for years.
MALE V.O. FROM OLD MOVIE THAT TEACHES DRAWING LESSONS: … is to support the framework and to give a framework to the body and to give it contour … There’s no difficulty in looking at a subject such as this to see that it’s symmetrical.
SAME THREE WOMEN ON SCREEN SPEAKING: Woman #1: Prostitutes have longer hair and larger breasts, but their thighs are smaller. Woman #2: But I have dark hair and dark eyes and I like my hair red. Woman #3: No way, they’re rough, they’re tough, they’re hard to bluff.
WOMAN V.O.: Like I can remember when I learned about martyrs. I was going to be Joan of Arc or I was going to be different saints and then I was going to be the Virgin Mary. Then I remember when I read about Nancy Drew. Then I was going to be her. So I had more recollection from the inside out. Visually, from the outside in, I remember putting on make-up like my mother, but would always cover my whole face with lipstick.
MALE VOICE FROM SCIENCE RECORDING ON BABIES: No one has yet come up with a complete and precise interpretation of each type of cry. There are catalogued some twenty different non-normal cries and fifteen to twenty different normal need cries. In a moment, you will hear four different normal need cries. The cries illustrated are hunger, pain, fatigue and fretfulness.
LYNNE’S DIARY AND V.O.: I remember my first introduction to the bridle, the bra. I was a horse irritated by such constraints. My bosoms were a keen, smooth extension of my growing, extending torso – all one piece. The cusp between my breast and my rib was a hiding place for my lanky, unwieldy arm. I was triangle, feeling a wholeness somewhere between my elbows and the nape of my neck — until the bridle came and created divisions, areas of artificial mystique, a separation between the functional arm and the sexual breast. Territory.
WOMAN’S V.O.: We have Rubens’ women. They are, I assume they are purchased for this purpose, like chubby, flesh women swinging on swings or lounging around, always kind of grotesque looking and there – just to be taken, just right there for the taking. And I assume that is why they were purchased, though we pretend that they were just purchased for art. Or there’s another, the Venuses, there’s a period of time when they were shaving all the pubic hair from the Venuses. There’s something I think about power in removing that hair and also a few perversions in the male culture that made that so popular. I think they become less powerful images for the male. And I think a lot of times, the more the visual images can be disarmed the better the male artist feels.
LYNNE’S DIARY V.O.: A speculum before me. I hold the mirror just inches away and learn to look – sometimes shyly, occasionally detached, and now, more often than not, bravely. I touch myself with knowledge. I trace a path across my chest, searching for surprises I’d rather not find, knots in the fabric.
MAN ON A HORSE IN OLD MOVIE: Look!
GIRLS WHISPERING: There was a secret garden and she had been in it, and she found it and she dug a hole everywhere she could find it and she found the key and she found the door and the next day she told another boy ….
LYNNE’S DIARY V.O AND TEXT ON SCREEN: Undressed, we read our bodies like a history. Scars, muscles, curves of the spine. We look at ourselves from within, collect our own data, create our own science, begin to define. Built from the inside out, this new laboratory pushes against the walls of the old structure. An incendiary effect, yes, but not arson.
GIRLS V.O.: Girl #1: Doctor, doctor, I can’t talk very well, I lost my voice. Girl #2: Okay, let me take a strep test. Girl #1: Okay, what do I do? Girl #2: Just open your mouth, and I’m going to put this down your throat. Okay, now we’ve got to put it in the chemicals. You have strep! Girl #1: I do? Mom, I have strep. What’s strep? Girl #2: It means you have a very soar throat. Girl #1: I do? Oh, thank you. What do I have to do for it? Girl #2: Well, just take the aspirin and wait a few weeks. Girl #1: Okay, bye! Girl #2: Bye!
We are really excited to work with aemi’s Artist in Focus Lynne Sachs to deliver a workshop as part of CIFF 2021. This in-person workshop in Cork will focus on the interplay between poetry and cinema. Based in New York, Lynne Sachs is an award winning filmmaker whose work bridges personal experience and political concerns through her singular approach to filmmaking. Lynne uses both analogue and digital mediums, weaving together text, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design.
‘Day Residue: A Film-Making Workshop on the Every Day’ is open to both emerging and established artists interested in film and writing. The workshop is an excellent opportunity for film artists to deeply consider creative approaches to writing and film, both in relation to their own practices and within wider contexts.
Day Residue: A Film-Making Workshop on the Every Day
Lynne Sachs: According to Sigmund Freud’s theory of dreams, our day residue is composed of the memory traces left by the events of our waking state. In this workshop, we explore the ways in which fragments of our daily lives can become material in writing for a personal film. While many people in the film industry rely upon a chronological process that begins with the development phase and ends with post-production, our Day Residue workshop will build on an entirely different creative paradigm that encourages artists to embraces the nuances, surprises and challenges of their daily lives as a foundation for a diaristic practice.
The day will be structured by two sessions: in addition to introducing her practice and collectively watching Lynne’s programme of short films curated by aemi for CIFF (see film info below), Lynne will also lead a session on writing and film / writing for film, and the possible interplays between the two – extending to the role of poetry.
In-person screening programme within the workshop:
Lynne Sachs, Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor, 2018, USA, 8 min From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three artists who embraced the moving image throughout their lives.
Lynne Sachs, Still Life With Women And Four Objects, 1986, USA, 4 minA portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a ‘character’.
Lynne Sachs, Drawn and Quartered, 1986, USA, 4 minOptically printed images of a man and a woman fragmented by a film frame that is divided into four distinct sections.
Lynne Sachs, The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts, 1991, USA, 29 min A girl’s difficult coming-of-age rituals are recast into a potent web for affirmation and growth.
Lynne Sachs and Anne Lesley Selcer, Girl is Presence, 2020, USA, 5 min Against the uncertain and anxious pandemic atmosphere, inside domestic space, a ‘girl’ arranges and rearranges a collection of small and mysterious things.
Lynne Sachs and Moira Sweeney, Longings, 2021, USA/ Ireland, 90 seconds A collaboration exploring the resonances and ruptures between image and language.
Lynne Sachs, Drift and Bough, 2014, USA, 6 minLynne Sachs spends a winter morning in Central Park shooting film in the snow. Holding her Super 8mm camera, she takes note of graphic explosions of dark and light and an occasional skyscraper.
Lynne Sachs, Starfish Aorta Colossus, 2014, USA, 4 min Poetry watches film. Film reads poetry. Paolo Javier’s text is a catalyst for digital sculpting of an 8mm Kodachrome canvas.
Lynne Sachs, Maya at 24, 2021, USA, 4 minLynne Sachs films her daughter Maya at 6, 16 and 24.
Lynne Sachs with and for Barbara Hammer, A Month of Single Frames, 2019, USA, 14 min In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had an artist residency in a shack without running water or electricity. She shot film and kept a journal. In 2018 Hammer, facing her own imminent death, gave her material to Lynne and invited her to make a film.
This is a free workshop, however as numbers are limited, prior booking is essential.
Please email Emer at email@example.com in advance to secure a place.
Lynne Sachs (Memphis, Tennessee, 1961) is a filmmaker and poet living in Brooklyn, New York. Her work explores the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together text, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. Strongly committed to a feminist dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with every new project. Her moving image work ranges from short experimental films, to essay films to hybrid live performances. Lynne has made 37 films, including features and shorts, which have screened, won awards or been included in retrospectives at New York Film Festival, Museum of Modern Art, Sundance, Oberhausen, Viennale, Sheffield Doc/Fest, BAFICI, RIDM Montréal, Vancouver Film Festival, Doclisboa, Havana IFF, and China Women’s Film Festival. In 2014, she received the Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts.
I will be heading to Cork International Film Festival in Ireland to present “Film About a Father Who” with 10 short films as part of their AEMI artist focus on my work. Honored to share four collaborative film poems: “Longings” made with filmmaker Moira Sweeney (who will be there with us!); “A Month of Single Frames” made with Barbara Hammer; “Girl is Presence” made with Anne Lesley Selcer; and, “Starfish Aorta Colossus” made with Paolo Javier.
Making work since the 1980s Lynne Sachs’ films have incorporated a cross-pollination of forms that extend to the essay film, documentary, collage, performance, and poetry. Deeply reflexive, Sachs’ films to date have outlined a rich interplay between the personal and the socio-political. aemi is delighted to present this overview of selected short works by Lynne Sachs at Cork International Film Festival, many of which are screening in Ireland for the first time.
In addition to this shorts programme Lynne will also be in attendance at the festival for the Irish premiere of her celebrated feature Film About a Father Who.
CAROLEE, BARBARA & GUNVOR Lynne Sachs From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three artists who embraced the moving image throughout their lives.
STILL LIFE WITH WOMEN AND FOUR OBJECTS Lynne Sachs A portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a ‘character’.
DRAWN AND QUARTERED Lynne Sachs Optically printed images of a man and a woman fragmented by a film frame that is divided into four distinct sections.
THE HOUSE OF SCIENCE: A MUSEUM OF FALSE FACTS Lynne Sachs A girl’s difficult coming-of-age rituals are recast into a potent web for affirmation and growth.
GIRL IS PRESENCE Lynne Sachs and Anne Lesley Selcer Against the uncertain and anxious pandemic atmosphere, inside domestic space, a ‘girl’ arranges and rearranges a collection of small and mysterious things.
LONGINGS Lynne Sachs and Moira Sweeney A collaboration exploring the resonances and ruptures between image and language.
DRIFT AND BOUGH Lynne Sachs Lynne Sachs spends a winter morning in Central Park shooting film in the snow. Holding her Super 8mm camera, she takes note of graphic explosions of dark and light and an occasional skyscraper.
STARFISH AORTA COLOSSUS Lynne Sachs Poetry watches film. Film reads poetry. Paolo Javier’s text is a catalyst for digital sculpting of an 8mm Kodachrome canvas.
MAYA AT 24 Lynne Sachs Lynne Sachs films her daughter Maya at 6, 16 and 24.
A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES Lynne Sachs with and for Barbara Hammer In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had an artist residency in a shack without running water or electricity. She shot film and kept a journal. In 2018 Hammer, facing her own imminent death, gave her material to Lynne and invited her to make a film.
The Irish premiere of Lynne Sachs’ celebrated feature Film About a Father Who screens here alongside the world premiere of Myrid Carten’s short film Sorrow had a baby. Both artists will be in attendance for a discussion of their work following the screening.
Both Film About a Father Who and Sorrow had a baby deal, in very different ways, with familial legacy incorporating personal archives and pushing against the traditional boundaries of documentary practice. Myrid Carten’s film Sorrow had a baby is also the first film produced through aemi’s annual film commissioning programme, supported by Arts Council of Ireland.
Myrid Carten, Sorrow had a baby,2021, Ireland, 16 minutesaemi Film Commission 2021
‘I absorbed the women in my life as I would chloroform on a cloth laid against my face.’ – Vivan Gornick
Sorrow had a baby explores the mother-daughter relationship through multiple lenses: memory, beauty, inheritance. Who writes the stories in a family? Who can change them?
Lynne Sachs, Film About a Father Who, 2020, USA, 74 minutesOver a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. Film About a Father Who is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, Sachs’ cinematic exploration of her father offers simultaneous, sometimes contradictory, views of one seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame yet privately ensconced in secrets. In the process, Sachs allows herself and her audience inside to see beyond the surface of the skin, the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, Sachs as a daughter discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.
Authors who have made their way looking inward, achieving a work where the constant regression to aesthetic searches, thematic investigations and particular narratives, have a point at which the gaze gravitates, infects and expands.
In this edition, we are happy to share in Mirada Epicentro the work of Lynne Sachs, Bruno Varela and Ecuador de Territory, a program made up of the authors Alberto Muenala, Eriberto Gualinga and Sani Montahuano.
A Month of Single Frames 2020 – U.S.A – 14’ In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had a one-month artist residency in the C Scape Duneshack which is run by the Provincetown Community Compact in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The shack had no running water or electricity. While there, she shot 16mm film with her Beaulieu camera, recorded sounds with her cassette recorder and kept a journal.
In 2018, Barbara began her own process of dying by revisiting her personal archive. She gave all of her Duneshack images, sounds and writing to filmmaker Lynne Sachs and invited her to make a film with the material.
Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor 2018 – U.S.A – 8’ From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer and Gunvor Nelson, three multi-faceted artists who have embraced the moving image throughout their lives. From Carolee’s 18th Century house in the woods of Upstate New York to Barbara’s West Village studio to Gunvor’s childhood village in Sweden, Lynne shoots film with each woman in the place where she finds grounding and spark.
E•pis•to•lar•y: letter to Jean Vigo 2021 – U.S.A / España – 5’ In a cinema letter to French director Jean Vigo, Lynne Sachs ponders the delicate resonances of his 1933 classic “Zero for Conduct” in which a group of school boys wages an anarchist rebellion against their authoritarian teachers. Thinking about the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the United States Capitol by thousands of right-wing activists, Sachs wonders how innocent play or calculated protest can turn so quickly into chaos and violence.
Drawn and Quartered 1987 – U.S.A – 4’ Optically printed images of a man and a woman are fragmented by a film frame that is divided into four distinct sections. An experiment in form/content relationships that are peculiar to the medium, 1987
Film About a Father Who 2020 – U.S.A – 74’ Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16mm film, videotape and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, Sachs’ cinematic exploration of her father offers simultaneous, sometimes contradictory, views of one seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame yet privately ensconced in secrets. In the process, Sachs allows herself and her audience inside to see beyond the surface of the skin, the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, Sachs as a daughter discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.
Following the Object to its Logical Beginning 1987 – U.S.A – 9’ Like an animal in one of Eadweard Muybridge’s scientific photo experiments, five undramatic moments in a man’s life are observed by a woman. A study in visual obsession and a twist on the notion of the “gaze”.
Maya at 24 2021 – U.S.A – 4’ Lynne Sachs films her daughter Maya in 16mm black and white film, at ages 6, 16 and 24. At each iteration, Maya runs around her mother, in a circle – clockwise – as if propelling herself in the same direction as time, forward. Conscious of the strange simultaneous temporal landscape that only film can convey, we watch Maya in motion at each distinct age.
Photograph on Wind 2001 – U.S.A – 4’ My daughter’s name is Maya. I’ve been told that the word maya means illusion in Hindu philosophy. As I watch her growing up, spinning like a top around me, I realize that her childhood is not something I can grasp but rather – like the wind – something I feel tenderly brushing across my cheek.
Same Stream Twice 2012 – U.S.A – 4’ In 2001, I photographed her at six years old, spinning like a top around me. Even then, I realized that her childhood was not something I could grasp but rather – like the wind – something I could feel tenderly brushing across my cheek.
Still Life with Woman and Four Objects 1986 – U.S.A – 4’ 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, 1986 .
The house of science: a museum of false facts 1991 – U.S.A – 30’ Offering a new feminized film form, this piece explores both art and science’s representation of women, combining home movies, personal remembrances, staged scenes and found footage into an intricate visual and aural college. A girl’s sometimes difficult coming of age rituals are recast into a potent web for affirmation and growth.
Viva and Felix Growing Up 2015 – U.S.A – 10’ Capturing fragments of the first three years of her twin niece’s and nephew’s lives with their two dads (her brother Ira Sachs and his husband Boris Torres) and their mom (Kirsten Johnson), Sachs affectionately surveys the construction of family.
Which way is east Lynne Sachs / Dana Sachs 1994 – U.S.A – 33’ When two American sisters travel north from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, conversations with Vietnamese strangers and friends reveal to them the flip side of a shared history. Lynne and Dana Sachs’ travel diary of their trip to Vietnam is a collection of tourism, city life, culture clash, and historic inquiry that’s put together with the warmth of a quilt. “Which Way Is East” starts as a road trip and flowers into a political discourse. It combines Vietnamese parables, history and memories of the people the sisters met, as well as their own childhood memories of the war on TV. To Americans for whom “Vietnam” ended in 1975, “Which Way Is East” is a reminder that Vietnam is a country, not a war. The film has a combination of qualities: compassion, acute observational skills, an understanding of history’s scope, and a critical ability to discern what’s missing from the textbooks and TV news. (from The Independent Film and Video Monthly, Susan Gerhard)
Program in Spanish
Autoras y autores que han labrado su camino mirando hacia dentro, logrando una obra donde la regresión constante a búsquedas estéticas, investigaciones temáticas y narrativas particulares, disponen un punto en el cual la mirada gravita, se contagia y se expande.
En esta edición, nos alegramos compartir en Mirada Epicentro la obra de Lynne Sachs, Bruno Varela y Ecuador de territorio, un programa conformado por los autores Alberto Muenala, Eriberto Gualinga y Sani Montahuano.
A Month of Single Frames 2020 – U.S.A – 14’ En 1998, la cineasta Barbara Hammer tuvo una residencia artística de un mes en Cape Cod, Massachusetts. La choza no tenía agua corriente ni electricidad. Mientras estuvo allí, filmó una película de 16 mm, grabó sonidos y llevó un diario. En 2018, Barbara comenzó su propio proceso de muerte revisando su archivo personal. Ella le dio todas sus imágenes, sonidos y escritura de la residencia a la cineasta Lynne Sachs y la invitó a hacer una película.
Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor 2018 – U.S.A – 8’ De 2015 a 2017, Lynne visitó a Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer y Gunvor Nelson, tres artistas multifacéticos que han abrazado la imagen en movimiento a lo largo de sus vidas. Desde la casa del siglo XVIII de Carolee en los bosques del norte del estado de Nueva York hasta el estudio de Barbara en West Village y el pueblo de la infancia de Gunvor en Suecia, Lynne graba una película con cada mujer en el lugar donde encuentra la base y la chispa.
E•pis•to•lar•y: letter to Jean Vigo 2021 – U.S.A / España – 5’ En una epistolar fílmica dirigida al director francés Jean Vigo, Lynne Sachs reflexiona sobre su clásico de 1933 “Zero for Conduct”, en el que los escolares libran una rebelión anarquista contra sus maestros autoritarios. Al pensar en el asalto del 6 de enero de 2021 al Capitolio de los EE. UU. Por parte de activistas de derecha, Sachs se pregunta cómo un juego inocente o una protesta calculada pueden convertirse tan rápidamente en caos y violencia.
Drawn and Quartered 1987 – U.S.A – 4’ Imágenes impresas ópticamente de un hombre y una mujer fragmentadas por un fotograma de película que se divide en cuatro secciones distintas. Un experimento en las relaciones forma / contenido que son peculiares del medio, 1987.
Film About a Father Who 2020 – U.S.A – 74’ Desde 1984 al 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. Con un guiño a las representaciones cubistas de un rostro, la exploración de Sachas ofrece visiones simultáneas y a veces contradictorias de un hombre aparentemente incognocible que públicamente se ubica de forma desinhibida en el centro del encueadre, pero en lo privado se refugia en secretos.
Following the Object to its Logical Beginning 1987 – U.S.A – 9’ Como un animal en uno de los experimentos fotográficos científicos de Eadweard Muybridge, una mujer observa cinco momentos poco dramáticos en la vida de un hombre. Un estudio sobre la obsesión visual y un giro en la noción de “mirada”.
Maya at 24 2021 – U.S.A – 4’ Conscientes del extraño paisaje temporal simultáneo que solo el cine puede transmitir, vemos a Maya en movimiento en cada época distinta.
Photograph on Wind 2001 – U.S.A – 4’ El nombre de mi hija es Maya. Me han dicho que la palabra maya significa ilusión en la filosofía hindú. Mientras la veo crecer, girando como una peonza a mi alrededor, me doy cuenta de que su infancia no es algo que pueda comprender, sino más bien, como el viento, algo que siento acariciar con ternura mi mejilla.
Same Stream Twice 2012 – U.S.A – 4’ En 2001, la fotografié a los seis años, girando como una peonza a mi alrededor. Incluso entonces, me di cuenta de que su infancia no era algo que pudiera comprender, sino más bien, como el viento, algo que podía sentir con ternura rozando mi mejilla.
Still Life with Woman and Four Objects 1986 – U.S.A – 4’ Un retrato cinematográfico que se sitúa entre una pintura y un poema en prosa, una mirada a las rutinas y pensamientos diarios de una mujer a través de una exploración de ella como un “personaje”. Al entrelazar hilos de historia y ficción, la película también es un homenaje a una mujer real: Emma Goldman, 1986.
The house of science: a museum of false facts 1991 – U.S.A – 30’ Ofreciendo una nueva forma de película feminizada, esta pieza explora la representación de las mujeres tanto en el arte como en la ciencia, combinando películas caseras, recuerdos personales, escenas escénicas y metraje encontrado en una intrincada universidad visual y auditiva. Los rituales de mayoría de edad a veces difíciles de una niña se reconvierten en una potente red de afirmación y crecimiento.
Viva and Felix Growing Up 2015 – U.S.A – 10’ Durante los primeros tres años de la vida de mi sobrino y mi sobrina gemela, usé mi cámara Bolex de 16 mm para filmarlos mientras crecían en la ciudad de Nueva York con sus dos papás (mi hermano Ira Sachs y su esposo Boris Torres) y su mamá (Kirsten Johnson). . La película termina con un abrazo por el Día del Orgullo Gay.
Which way is east Lynne Sachs / Dana Sachs 1994 – U.S.A – 33’ Cuando dos hermanas estadounidenses viajan al norte desde la ciudad de Ho Chi Minh a Hanoi, las conversaciones con desconocidos y amigos vietnamitas les revelan la otra cara de una historia compartida.
An exhibiting filmmaker’s thoughts on the recent online festival, Prismatic Ground.
It began, as so many things do these days, with a tweet: in October 2020, Inney Prakash, programmer of the Maysles Cinema’s “After Civilization” series, put out a call for experimental documentary films. The resulting festival, Prismatic Ground, debuted in early April with a diverse line-up of new and repertory non-fiction films that ran the gamut of genres, styles, and techniques. Imagine: a programmer directly engaging with his community of filmmakers with an open-hearted all-points-bulletin was the antithesis of conventional festival gatekeeping. The refreshing prospect was a beacon to filmmakers struggling to create and exhibit work during a traumatic and hostile time.
Prakash’s call for submissions caught my attention on that fateful October night: for once, my endless Twitter scrolling put me in the right place at the right time. For the last four years, I’d been dutifully at work on a narrative feature concerning Julian of Norwich, an obscure 14th-century woman mystic. With development and production on indefinite hold, I resolved to keep in “fighting shape” by making whatever I could—however I could—about Julian’s ecstatic religious experience. I had originally set out to make a companion piece, a sort of altar to this long-overlooked religious icon. What began as a few standalone tableaux eventually turned into The Sixteen Showings of Julian of Norwich, a bricolage of stop-motion animation, back-projection, and collage.
I was very fortunate to have a job for most of last year, but working well beyond the customary 40 hours a week in these new circumstances was disastrous for my mental health and creative practice. For the first few months of this solitary arrangement, I was lucky if I ended each day with just enough energy to bathe and feed myself. Readers, no doubt, will recognize this feeling immediately—a pervasive fogginess, a dearth of initiative, contained on all sides by fear, dread, and exhaustion. The immediate reaction for many of us possessing an artistic temperament is to heal through the work, to create from a place of self-preservation as a therapeutic exercise (because, to be perfectly honest, very few working artists can afford traditional talk therapy).
After a nights-and-weekends work schedule, I finished a short film in my little office consisting of whatever I had on hand. It’s a wild departure from my usual narrative practice of snappy dialogue and meticulously-designed sets, edging my practice into a heretofore unexplored aesthetic and style.
Sixteen Showings was my first attempt to make a film without in-person collaborations: Tessa Strain’s narration, Matt Macfarlane’s original score, and Eliana Zebrow’s rich sound mix were directed entirely over email. The film was tangential to my would-be narrative feature, but very much apiece with my overarching vision. Finishing this solo effort was a balm—somehow I had made something new despite… well, you know, everything. But what now? Surveying the fruits of this months-long process, I struggled to conceive of a suitable afterlife beyond the customary Vimeo upload. Where could I screen this? What context could there possibly be for a theological exploration of isolation, plague, and revolt? Calling it a “shut-in watercolor movie,” or “moving altar,” while elegiac, didn’t quite fit the bill.
Enter Inney Prakash’s well-timed tweet and timely festival. Emboldened by his transparency and programmatic voice, I steeled myself for yet another humbly-toned inquiry. When Sixteen Showings was selected, I was shocked, ecstatic and, in a way, relieved: if there was an audience for this film, surely I would find it at Prismatic Ground. Having never enjoyed a virtual premiere, I went into the experience as a total neophyte. But for every gripe there was praise in equal measure: the pleasure of connecting with an otherwise distant viewership, public recognition for work made under great duress. Prismatic Ground helped me recontextualize what felt like a moving target. More than a descriptor or genre, “experimental documentary” affords artists a wide berth to do just that: experiment with cinematic and journalistic techniques within a nonfiction framework. To that end, I began to understand the dual significance of Sixteen Showings as a documentary about Julian of Norwich’s life and, by extension, my own.
In a festival space laid low by last year’s pandemic, Prakash saw an opportunity to challenge “the toxic or tedious norms governing festival culture, and to emphasize inclusivity and access.” Where the year’s higher-profile festivals sought to replicate the exclusivity of their in-person events with geo-blocked premiers and Zoom happy hours, Prismatic Ground promised viewers a deliberate antithesis. Its programming, ethos, and even web presence were tailor-made for the online space, prioritizing widespread access and a filmmaker-centered focus on screenings and Q&As. Prakash’s curation was mission-driven: “It was important to me to strike a balance,” he said, “between early career and established filmmakers, palatable and challenging work, passion and polish.” The line-up generously gave equal weight to artists at every stage of their process. Instead of single-film, time-sensitive screenings, audiences enjoyed free reign to explore and engage of their own accord, a heretofore unheard of format—online and off.
Organized in a series of “waves,” Prismatic Ground was structured around four separate collections touching on simultaneously personal and societal themes. It was reassuring to screen Sixteen Showings alongside equally intimate works, each with a different visual and philosophical approach. I was, and still am, grateful to Prakash for including my film. Despite being a newcomer to experimental filmmaking and documentary, I never once felt like an impostor. That feeling carried over to my experience as a viewer as well: these were films unlike any I’d seen, whether due to their newness or, in the case of repertory titles, my own lack of access. I am grateful to the festival for offering an avenue through which to engage with the work of other like-minded artists.
I was eager to hear from my fellow filmmakers about their road to the festival and experience as participants in this bold experiment in public exhibition. While we all arrived through different avenues, I immediately noticed a shared resonance. A wide net-approach to programming naturally attracted filmmakers reeling from the exclusionary nature of the mainstream festival circuit. Filmmaker Angelo Madsen Max (Two Sons and a River of Blood, 2021) was quick to note how “Inney was able to really access all of the different layers of what the piece was doing.” For director Sarah Friedland (Drills, 2020) it was the fervor of how Prakash had “created the festival he wanted to exist, instead of trying to reform an established festival” that drew her to the event.
For filmmakers navigating constraints brought on by the pandemic, and its ongoing economic aftermath, social media provided the sense of community missing from in-person festivals. Elias ZX (You Deserve The Best, 2018) was already familiar with Prakash’s programming work on “After Civilization” when they submitted their film. “We became friends through Twitter, [and] he told me about his plan to make an experimental documentary festival.” Screening online “gave my film space to breathe in a way that is really uncommon for festivals. Every viewer was allowed to have a completely unique experience with the film.” Virginia-based filmmaker Lydia Moyer (The Well-Prepared Citizen’s Solution, 2020) saw the festival as a chance to broaden and strengthen these seemingly disparate filmmaking communities. “As a person who lives in a rural place, it’s great that so much interesting work has been available this year to anyone who’s got enough bandwidth (literally and figuratively).” Moyer said. “The way this is set up is for online viewing, not just trying to transfer an in-person experience online.”
Programming the work of early career filmmakers alongside more established artists was more than a canny curatorial choice. The variety presented across these four waves expanded the audience’s access to repertory titles, while simultaneously reiterating the connection between both older and more recent offerings. Prismatic Ground’s streaming platform and presentation stood out for director Chris Harris (Reckless Eyeballing, 2004), who “had some streaming experiences that weren’t so happy in terms of the technical aspects.” The festival’s creative exhibition format was especially taken by “the mix of programming, special live events, and the flexibility of accommodating filmmakers with the option of live and recorded Q&As.” For prolific filmmaker Lynne Sachs, Prismatic Ground represented “an entirely new, unbelievably adventurous, compassionate approach to the viewing of experimentally driven cinema,” emphasizing that the festival itself was “beyond anything I have ever seen in my life.”
Among the filmmakers I spoke with, Prismatic Ground’s liberal approach to exhibition belied a tremendous sense of potential for artists navigating a post-COVID festival ecosystem. Harris noticed an “[increasing] festival bandwidth for underseen/emerging Black experimental filmmakers,” a tendency that he “[hopes] to see continue after COVID.” In lieu of a return to in-person only screenings, the general consensus saw streaming as a fixture in future festivals. “I don’t think it is going to be possible to put the toothpaste back in the tube here,” noted Zx, emphasizing that “more access will be good for filmmakers… and will challenge programmers to be more competitive, to release more obscure films that are harder to find.”
Prakash’s groundbreaking work has already heeded the call, citing critic Abby Sun’s Berlin Critics’ Week essay “On Criticism” as a guiding principle. “Festivals aren’t merely reacting to social conditions,” Sun writes. “They are often the primary creators of them.” Prismatic Ground’s focus on diverse curation and access reaches well beyond the artistic ramifications. Prakash’s end goal is emboldening, a manifesto of sorts: “Enough of premiere politics, prohibitive pricing, playing only the same handful of films at every festival. Let’s create better conditions. There is a moral imperative to keep doing virtual screenings now that we know we can and how.”