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

The Emanon
Sarah Lawrence College
May 10, 2022
by Ethan Cotler ‘23
http://sarahlawrenceemanon.com/arts-and-culture/2022/5/10/a-conversation-with-experimental-director-lynne-sachs-film-about-a-father-who-her-upcoming-project-and-the-power-of-looking-at-a-horizon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know you write poetry as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah. Yeah, sometimes. 

I think that’s awesome. 

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

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

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

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

Yes-

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

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

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

Yeah. You know, Barbara Hammer’s work? 

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

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

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

I actually only have a pool of 550 people. 

That’s a lot, though.

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

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

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

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

 That was so profound. I absolutely love that explanation. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flow Chart Foundation presents “Films + Poems = Lynne Sachs”

Films + Poems = Lynne Sachs
The Flow Chart Foundation
https://www.flowchartfoundation.org/events-public-programs-2021
Monday, September 13, 6 – 7PM (EDT), via zoom


Filmmaker/poet Lynne Sachs will share a selection of short films and read selections from her poetry collection Year by Year Poems (Tender Buttons Press). This free public event precedes an encore presentation of our Text Kitchen workshop—Frames & Stanzas: Video Poems, which begins the next day, Tuesday, Sept. 14.

The Flow Chart Foundation explores poetry and the interrelationships of various art forms as guided by the legacy of American poet John Ashbery. Through programs for both general and scholarly audiences showcasing innovative work by a diversity of artists of various kinds, The Flow Chart Foundation celebrates Ashbery and his art as an inspirational and generative force. We see poetry in particular as a conduit to exploration, questioning, and resistance to the status quo, and work to offer new ways to engage with it and its interplay with other artistic modes.

On Year by Year: Poems:
“The whole arc of a life is sketched movingly in this singular collection. These poems have both delicacy and grit.  With the sensitive eye for details that she has long brought to her films, Lynne Sachs shares, this time on the page, her uncanny observations of moments on the fly, filled with longings, misses, joys and mysterious glimpses of a pattern of meaning underneath it all.”  —Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body and Against Joie de Vivre

“The highly acclaimed filmmaker Lynne Sachs is also a captivating and surprising poet. Year by Year distills five decades into lyric, a lustrous tapestry woven of memory, wisdom, cultural apprehension and the delicate specificities of lived life.”  —Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs and When the World Was Steady


“In Year by Year, Lynne Sachs selects and distills from larger fields of notation, acute scenes representing her life and the world she was born into. Her measured, spare account brings her to an understanding and acceptance of the terrible and beautiful fact that history both moves us and moves through us, and, more significantly, how by contending with its uncompromising force, we define an ethics that guides our fate.” —Michael Collier author of Dark Wild Realm


Since the 1980s, Lynne Sachs has created cinematic works that defy genre through the use of hybrid forms and cross-disciplinary collaboration, incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, documentary and poetry. Her highly self-reflexive films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. With each project, Lynne investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself. Lynne discovered her love of filmmaking while living and studying in San Francisco where she worked closely with artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Gunvor Nelson, and Trihn T. Min-ha. During this time, she produced her early, experimental works on celluloid which took a feminist approach to the creation of images and writing— a commitment which has grounded her body of work ever since. In tandem with making films, Lynne is also deeply engaged with poetry. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press published Lynne’s first book Year by Year Poems.

From essay films to hybrid docs to diaristic shorts, Sachs has produced 40 films as well as numerous projects for web, installation, and performance. She has tackled topics near and far, often addressing directly the challenge of translation — from one language to another or from spoken work to image. These tensions were investigated most explicitly between 1994 and 2006, when Lynne produced five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany—sites affected by international war–where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions. 

Over her career, Sachs has been awarded support from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation. Her films have screened at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, Wexner Center for the Arts, the Walker and the Getty, and at festivals including New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, Punto de Vista, DocAviv, and DocLisboa. Retrospectives of her work have been presented at the Museum of the Moving Image, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Festival International Nuevo Cine in Havana, and China Women’s Film Festival. Her 2019 film “A Month of Single Frames” won the Grand Prize at Oberhausen Festival of Short Films in 2020.  In 2021, both the Edison Film Festival and the Prismatic Ground Film Festival at the Maysles Documentary Center awarded Lynne for her body of work in the experimental and documentary fields. 

The Flow Chart Foundation’s “Text Kitchen” with Workshops by Lynne Sachs

https://www.flowchartfoundation.org/workshop-checkout/0xwihp0y2zgaxgr0tgxgjs3gsrukqr

The Flow Chart Foundation’s Text Kitchen hands-onWorkshops provide writers and other art-makers opportunities for deep exploration into poetry and interrelated forms of expression.

UP NEXT:

Frames and Stanzas: Video Poems—encore presentation!
a virtual filmmaking and poetry writing workshop with Lynne Sachs

Tuesday, September 14 & Tuesday, September 21, 2021 (registration includes both sessions)
6:30pm – 9:30pm (EDT) on Zoom

In this two-part virtual workshop, Sachs will share insights and experiences she has in bridging poetry with cinema. Participants will explore and expand the intersections between still/moving images and written/spoken words over the course of two three-hour evening meetings (participants must be able to attend both sessions). Lynne will guide the workshop on a creative journey that will include writing several poems in conjunction with shooting moving or still images using an iPhone and simple editing software. Lynne has always been fascinated by the conversation between large-scale public events beyond our control and our subsequent, internal responses to those experiences. Her workshop will build itself around this public/private convergence. 

Participants are encouraged to join us for a free, public presentation of Lynne’s short films and poetry taking place virtually at 6PM (EDT) on Monday, September 13th. More info here.

Workshop fee (includes both three-hour sessions): $80


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Frames and Stanzas: Video Poems
a virtual filmmaking and poetry writing workshop with Lynne Sachs

Thursday, June 10 & Thursday, June 17, 2021 (registration includes both sessions)
6:30pm – 9:30pm (EDT) on Zoom

When award-winning Brooklyn filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs first discovered The Flowchart Foundation’s enthusiasm for poetry as a conduit for an interplay with other artistic modes, she knew that we would be a great place to offer a workshop that would nourish a deeply engaged dialogue between the written word and the image.

In this two-part virtual workshop, Sachs will share insights and experiences she has in bridging poetry with cinema. Participants will explore and expand the intersections between still/moving images and written/spoken words over the course of two three-hour evening meetings (participants must be able to attend both sessions). Lynne will guide the workshop on a creative journey that will include writing several poems in conjunction with shooting moving or still images. Lynne has always been fascinated by the conversation between large-scale public events beyond our control and our subsequent, internal responses to those experiences. Her workshop will build itself around this public/private convergence. 

We encourage those with backgrounds in either or both poetry and image-making to sign up. Participants will need only a smartphone for creating their short films. Because creative collaboration between participants is a vital part of the experience, Lynne will carefully pair participants based on a questionnaire sent after registering. Note that this is not a tech-focused workshop, though some basic tech instruction will be shared.

Lynne’s virtual workshop will include the screening of some of her own recent short film poems, including “Starfish Aorta Colossus” (2015), “A Month of Single Frames” (2019), “Visit to Bernadette Mayer’s Childhood Home” (2020), and “Girl is Presence” (2020) as well as excerpts from her feature “Tip of My Tongue” (2017).

Join us in this 2-week multimedia investigation of the sounds, texts, media images, home-made movies, and sensory experiences that all come together in a video poem. We could not be more delighted to be launching the Text Kitchen workshop series with this event. 

Workshop fee (includes both three-hour sessions): $80 [event SOLD OUT]

Since the 1980s, Lynne Sachs has created cinematic works that defy genre through the use of hybrid forms and cross-disciplinary collaboration, incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, documentary and poetry. Her highly self-reflexive films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. With each project, Lynne investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself. Lynne discovered her love of filmmaking while living and studying in San Francisco where she worked closely with artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Gunvor Nelson, and Trihn T. Min-ha. During this time, she produced her early, experimental works on celluloid which took a feminist approach to the creation of images and writing— a commitment which has grounded her body of work ever since. In tandem with making films, Lynne is also deeply engaged with poetry. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press published Lynne’s first book Year by Year Poems.

From essay films to hybrid docs to diaristic shorts, Sachs has produced 40 films as well as numerous projects for web, installation, and performance. She has tackled topics near and far, often addressing directly the challenge of translation — from one language to another or from spoken work to image. These tensions were investigated most explicitly between 1994 and 2006, when Lynne produced five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany—sites affected by international war–where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions. 


Over her career, Sachs has been awarded support from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation. Her films have screened at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, Wexner Center for the Arts, the Walker and the Getty, and at festivals including New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, Punto de Vista, DocAviv, and DocLisboa. Retrospectives of her work have been presented at the Museum of the Moving Image, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Festival International Nuevo Cine in Havana, and China Women’s Film Festival. Her 2019 film “A Month of Single Frames” won the Grand Prize at Oberhausen Festival of Short Films in 2020.  In 2021, both the Edison Film Festival and the Prismatic Ground Film Festival at the Maysles Documentary Center awarded Lynne for her body of work in the experimental and documentary fields. 

Mimesis Documentary Festival to host “Film About a Father Who” and “Day Residue” workshop

Mimesis – Documentary Festival
August 2021
https://www.mimesisfestival.org/2021-program/#opening-night

Opening Night: Lynne Sachs + Workshop

Film About a Father Who
by Lynne Sachs (2021, 74’)Wednesday 4 August 6:00 PM
Boedecker Cinema

Drawing on a painstaking personal archive of images, home movies, and interviews, Film About A Father Who is a rare kind of cinematic portrait: one that succeeds in expanding our understanding of the filmmaker, her protagonist, and their relationship through its structure, aesthetic, and method. A beautiful accumulation of time, contradictions, and a multitude of perspectives reflects the all-too-familiar operatic dynamics of family.

This screening will be followed by a conversation with the artist and a reception with light refreshments.

Recorded by Marc Vidulich.

Mimesis Documentary Festival, Aug 4 2021
Q & A with filmmaker Lynne Sachs for Opening Night screening of “Film About a Father Who”
moderated by Maryam Muliaee, PhD
Post-doctoral AssociateDepartment of Critical Media PracticesUniversity of Colorado Boulderwww.maryammuliaee.comEditor, MAST journal www.mast-journal.org

  1. Can you talk a little about the process of archiving for Film About A Father Who in the course of three decades? My emphasis is on the word archiving (rather than archive) with an interest in the process, duration and change — a quality that also involves encounters with the unexpected and unplanned. I can imagine it must be an incredibly enormous amount of footage, images and sounds that needed your considerable time, patience and focus for re-listening, re-watching and final selection. How did you manage these demanding processes of archiving, organizing and reviewing your materials within three decades?
  2. There is sometimes this wrong assumption that films made up of home movies and family footage are hard to be directed or involve less direction. However, as a director you have sculpted the film with incredible attention to details. Your orchestration of the materials and visual rhetoric are so strong, thoughtful and distinct, revealed as an individual touch. How did you direct the film, and come to decision(s) about selection, order and function of home movies and family footage in your film?
  3.  There is an aesthetic of fragmentation in your film. You also mentioned to cubist paintings in your statement referring to your film and way of portraying your father. This fragmentation brings in dynamic variation, multiplicity and process – embodied in your way of engaging a variety of different materials (in terms of format, quality, time, order, aspect ratio, cut, collage, etc.); in a fragmented and unfinished image of your father; in the voice and view of multiple narrators the viewers encounter such as siblings some of whom remained disconnected for twenty years. I also find a meaningful association between this fragmental or fragmentary aesthetic and the way memories are always in pieces, ephemeral and collective. Can you talk more about the aesthetic of fragmentation (or variation) in your film, and why does it matter to you as a filmmaker?
  4. While the film title gives this assumption that your main protagonist is a man — obviously your father — I was surprised by and enjoyed far more and many encounters with women in the film, from your grandmother to your mother, your sisters and your father’s other wives, and of course yourself as a woman (as well as a mother and a daughter). Discovering this distinct feminist standpoint through which you connect the viewers more strongly with the female characters in the film was so remarkable for me. Can you talk about this feminist touch?
  5.  Can you talk about your use of aging/decaying videotapes? How did you find it aesthetically important or meaningful to deploy the disintegration of videographic materials? What is at stake in their tactile qualities (e.g. blurriness, incoherence, failure and dispersion) and how have their grainy textures helped your film narrative or aesthetics?

Workshop: Day Residue
A filmmaking workshop on the every day with opening night artist Lynne Sachs.
Thursday 5 August 9:30 – 11:00 AM
Grace Gamm Theater

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 for the making of a film poem. 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 embrace the nuances, surprises and challenges of their daily lives as a foundation for a diaristic practice.

The workshop will include screenings of some of Lynne’s recent short film poems, including Starfish Aorta Colossus (2015), A Month of Single Frames (2019), Visit to Bernadette Mayer’s Childhood Home (2020), and Girl is Presence (2020) as well as excerpts from her feature Tip of My Tongue (2017).

Kino Rebelde to Represent Lynne Sachs’ Catalogue Internationally

http://www.kinorebelde.com/lynne-sachs-complete-filmography/

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

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


About Kino Rebelde

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

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

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

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

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

About María Vera

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

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

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

vera@kinorebelde.com


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

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

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

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

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

Three Poems by Lynne Sachs published in A Portuguese-English Review of Contemporary Literature

SACCADES – A Portuguese-English Review of Contemporary Literature
http://www.saccadesreview.org/lynne-sachs/

VISIT TO BERNADETTE MAYER’S CHILDHOOD HOME / VISITA À CASA DA INFÂNCIA DE BERNADETTE MAYER

30 DE JULHO DE 1971 (por bernadette mayer)

30 de Julho Quando você é mulher, você faz um ótimo disco e uma filha, cuja filha, as portas e a placa de armadura do busto de uma mulher e os cachos, morcegos negros, desastre iminente desgraça iminente interminável iminente uma reorganização do emprego das faculdades um pombo voa pela janela o assunto emoldura, veja, apenas, tanto, quem é você? como eu vim por você? Sou a raiva minha raiva é o sentido de perfurar você eu estou colocado dentro esta peça, este é um jogada, seu homenzinho boneco cai pequena mulher boneca se aproxima, fica ferida, você se levanta de novo um milagre, nós acasalamos, como dois relógios na mesma pulseira, à prova d’água espero. Coloque-os. Acerte-os algumas horas antes do meio-dia. Algumas horas antes do meio-dia. Com tinta, sua jogada, em um certo número de horas movem-se horas. Como você mencionou antes como uma reorganização daquele que foi mencionado antes, para aquele com quem minha presença fala, eu atiro nos homens lunares de uma vez e então tenho todo esse tempo sobrando para chupar o dedo. Eu preciso arrumar um relógio e começar a precisar dele. Não há duas maneiras de fazer isso é como mijar na versão mais analítica de todas as estrelas, é como respirar, respirar a fumaça da sua própria porra de marca. Então eu fumo o seu. Seu renegado, por que não admitir e me libertar. Eu odeio as peças de xadrez. Odeio todas as correções de poder exceto o poder que tenho para te mostrar algo.

JULY 30, 1971 (by bernadette mayer)

July 30 When you are a woman you make a great record & a daughter, whose daughter, the doors & the bust armor plate of a woman and curls, black bats, impending disaster impending doom unending impending a reorganization of the employment of faculties a pigeon flies by the window the subject frames, see, just, so, much who are you? how did I come by you? I’m anger my anger is sense drills into you I am set in this piece this is a move you little man doll fall down little woman doll moves closer, is wounded, you get up again a miracle, we mate, like two watch faces on the same wrist band, waterproof i hope. Set them. Set them back a few hours to noon. Back a few hours to noon. Inked, your move, in a certain number of hours moves hours. Like you mentioned before as a reorganization of the one who was mentioned before, to the one my presence here speaks to, I shoot the moon men all at once & then I’ve got all this time left to twiddle my thumbs. I’ve got to get a watch face & start needing it. There’s no two ways about it it’s like pissing on the most analytical version of all the stars, it’s like breathing, breathe the smoke of your own fucking brand. So I smoke yours. You renegade, why not admit it & set me free. I hate chess sets. I hate all power fixes except the power I have to show you something.

—translated by sean negus


LYNNE SACHS & PAOLO JAVIER

STARFISH AORTA COLOSSUS / COLOSSO DE AORTA ESTRELA DO MAR

10. (por paolo javier)

Não é mais hoje, mas eu admito ontem eu nunca pensei
Novamente lágrimas chamam à porta começam a cair na tábua dos vinte
Langor interno verde maravilha a emergência do poema
Vento estouro chegada é você
Apareça ante o espaço vazio
Nomeia Português a minha divindade praia vazia
Nessa praia vazia nos sentamos perto por nos aquecer
Viva krakooom praia vazia filhotes de foca brincam quando submerge o panda
Fundo do oecano lareira rodízio alienígena estrada horizonte largo
Ele vem chamando feito sinal de pá sobre a tundra iluminada
Eu sei ele talvez saiba movimentos de caneta intenção chicote sob aorta de estrela-do-mar
Furacão crescendo ou bagre cidade Português sublime
Nomeie Português a ressaca além qua divindade
Terror lamente volta pergunte por que o horizonte aorta colosso impede

10. (by paolo javier)

Today it is no longer cry but admit yesterday I never once thought it
Again tears call to the door begin to fall on the board of twenty
Green inside languor wonder emergency the poem
Wind sprint arrival are you
Appear before blank space
Name English mine divinity empty beach
On that empty beach we sit close to keep warm
Live krakooom empty beach seal pups play while panda submerge
Ocean bottom hearth buffet alien lane wide horizon
He comes calling like a shovel sign above sunlit tundra
I can will may know pen movement sling intention under starfish aorta
Hurricane crescendo or catfish city sublimate English
Name English tide return furtherance qua divinity
Terror lament volta inquire why horizon aorta colossus impeach

—translated by rodrigo bravo


LYNNE SACHS & LAURA HARRISON

ORANGE GLOW / BRILHO LARANJA

BRILHO LARANJA (por lynne sachs)

Um rosto desmoronando azulado fragmento edifício rochedo em luz fúcsia não é espaço, mas um traço um nado uma escova indivisível do olho que esculpe a visão alguma luz é lâmpada e alguma é sol dentro da gema, cada traço tão diferente um rosto em uma moldura se torna um melancólico e também uma casa de triângulo de caixa.

Entrar no fogo. Entre a fumaça do oeste capturada no índice de qualidade do ar de um escuro 2 PM. Agora a poeira da hospitalidade hermética em seus pulmões fumaça em seus ouvidos.

Sim, eu posso ouvir o zumbido em seus ouvidos esfregado por esta imagem que você fez, não realmente São Francisco agora, mas é para mim, torna-se aquele lugar. Me manda lá. Sinta o calor. Nada vem através do nevoeiro, mas o calor, a crepitação da mato queimando sob os pés, o calor, a preocupação, e através de tudo isso uma linha se desenha cuspindo em movimento no líquido.

ORANGE GLOW (by lynne sachs)

A face crumbling blueness fragment building crag in fuchsia light is not space but a stroke a swim a brush indivisible from the eye that carves sight some light is bulb and some is sun inside the gem each stroke so different a face in a frame becomes a wistful and also a box triangle home.

Enter fire. Enter smoke from the West caught in the air quality index of a dark 2 PM now hermetic hospitality dust in your lungs smoke in your ears.

Yes, I can hear the ringing in your ears rubbed by this image you made, not really San Francisco now but is for me, becomes that place. Sends me there. Feel the heat. Nothing comes through the fog but the heat, the crackling of the burning brush underfoot, the heat, the worry, and through it all a line drawing itself spitting in motion in liquid.

—translated by sean negus


Lynne Sachs is a filmmaker and poet who grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and is currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Her moving image work ranges from short experimental films, to essay films to hybrid live performances. Lynne discovered her love of filmmaking while living in San Francisco where she worked closely with artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Ernie Gehr, Barbara Hammer, Gunvor Nelson, and Trinh T. Min-ha. Between 1994 and 2006, she produced five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany — sites affected by international war – where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions. Looking at the world from a feminist lens, she expresses intimacy by the way she uses her camera. Objects, places, reflections, faces, hands, all come so close to us in her films. Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with every new project. With the making of “Every Fold Matters” (2015), and “The Washing Society” (2018), Lynne expanded her practice to include live performance. As of 2020, Lynne has made 37 films. The Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Festival International Nuevo Cine in Havana, China Women’s Film Festival and Sheffield Doc/ Fest have all presented retrospectives of her work. Tender Buttons Press published Lynne’s first book Year by Year Poems in 2019.

Bernadette Mayer is an avant-garde writer associated with the New York School of poets. The author of over 27 collections, including most recently Works and Days (2016), Eating The Colors Of A Lineup Of Words: The Early Books of Bernadette Mayer (2015) and The Helens of Troy (2013), she has received grants from The Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, National Endowment for the Arts and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. From 1980-1984, she served as the director of the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, and has also edited and founded 0 to 9 journal and United Artists books and magazines. She has taught at the New School for Social Research, Naropa University, Long Island University, the College of Saint Rose, Miami University and at University of Pennsylvania as a Kelly Writers House Fellow.

Paolo Javier was born in the Philippines and grew up in Las Piñas, Metro Manila; Katonah, Westchester; al-Ma‛adi , Cairo; and Surrey, Greater Vancouver. A featured artist in Queens International 18, he is the author/co-performer of the 2019 chapbook/cassette EP Maybe the Sweet Honey Pours (Nion Editions/Temporary Tapes), and O.B.B., a long comics poem forthcoming from Nightboat Books. Publisher’s Weekly calls his previous book, Court of the Dragon, “a linguistic time machine,” and is the inspiration for Lynne Sachs’ film Starfish Aorta Colossus.

Laura Harrison lives and works in Chicago. Her animations focus on marginalized, social outcasts with their own sub cultures. These fringe characters provide a focal point for her concerns with diaspora, trans humanism, gender and the loss of touch in an overwhelmingly visual world. Her films have shown at various festivals internationally including The New York Film Festival, Ottowa International Animation Festival, Japan Media Arts Festival, Boston International Film Festival, Florida Film Festival, GLAS, Animafest Zagreb, VOID and Melbourne International Animation Festival. Her work has garnered many prizes, most recently a Guggenheim and Best Animation at Mammoth Lakes Film Festival.

maria isobel iorio

Visit to Bernadette Mayer’s Childhood Home (2020)

“Visit to Bernadette Mayer’s Childhood Home” by Lynne Sachs
3 min. 16mm b&w, sound, 2020

In July 1971, avant-garde writer and language poet Bernadette Mayer produced Memory, a multimedia project in which she shot one roll of 35mm film each day and kept a daily journal. In honor of the project’s compilation and release as a book, Lynne Sachs embarks on a study of the memory and language of place. Journeying to Mayer’s childhood home in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens, Sachs pays homage to Mayer in a collage of architecture, light, and rhythm. 

Text from “Memory” by Bernadette Mayer published by Siglio Press, 2020 – used by permission in conjunction with Poet’s House celebration of book.

Filmed at Bernadette Mayer’s childhood home, Ridgewood, Queens, New York


“It reminds me of the Cornell film Centuries of June where he got the young Stan Brakhage to come out to Queens and film. It is totally flowing in the style of Bernadette — the watch faces, the people passing on the sidewalk, the man with the long hair and headband, the black chain, the doorknob …. the leaves.” – Lee Ann Brown, Editrix, Tender Buttons Press

For inquiries about rentals or purchases please contact Canyon Cinema or the Film-makers’ Cooperative. And for international bookings, please contact Kino Rebelde.

Frames & Stanzas: A Film and Poetry Workshop led by Lynne Sachs

Frames & Stanzas: a Film and Poetry Workshop
Beyond Baroque Literary/ Arts Center
Thursday Nov 12, 2020 – Friday, December 4, 2020

In this virtual workshop, Brooklyn filmmaker and poet, Lynne Sachs, will share insights and experiences to help bridge poetry with cinema. 

About this Event 
In this virtual workshop, Brooklyn filmmaker and poet, Lynne Sachs will share insights and experiences she has in bridging poetry with cinema. Participants will explore and expand the intersections between still/moving images and written/spoken words. Over the course of three Thursday evenings, participants will explore and expand the intersections between still/moving images and written/spoken words. Sachs has always been fascinated by the interplay between large-scale public events beyond our control and our subsequent, internal responses to those experiences. Her workshop will build itself around this public/private convergence. 

Lynne’s virtual workshop at Beyond Baroque will include the screening of some of her own recent short film poems, including Starfish Aorta Colossus (2015), A Month of Single Frames (2019), Visit to Bernadette Mayer’s Childhood Home (2020), and Girl is Presence (2020) as well as excerpts from her feature Tip of My Tongue (2017). 

On Wednesday, Dec. 3, before our final meeting on Thursday, Dec. 4th, Beyond Baroque will host a virtual, public poetry reading with Lynne, during which she will read from her new collection, Year by Year Poems (Tender Buttons Press, 2019). Everyone is invited!

So please join us in this 3-week multimedia investigation of the sounds, texts, media images, home-made movies, and sensory experiences that all come together in a film poem.

On Nov. 12, participants will gain insights into this process with examples of filmmakers and poets whose practices explore and encompass both images and texts. Discussion will include (but certainly not be limited to!): the activation of archival images, visualization of poetic texts, overlaying text on the moving image, live poetry and expanded cinema performance, traditional Japanese benshi performers who live-narrated silent films poetic approaches to observational documentary, the “cine-essay,” and more. Lynne will provide “prompts” for writing during the following week.

On Nov. 20, each participant will produce a short video piece (with your cell phone or a camera) that combines text written by another member of the workshop with footage of their current environment. Lynne will provide guidance and structure for making a short film poem over the course of the following two weeks.

On Dec. 3, our workshop will culminate with a live Zoom screening/performance of films produced in the workshop. Participants are encouraged to invite friends to the last hour of our workshop.

Lynne Sachs & Paolo Javier read poems on KGB Bar Zoom

On Monday, September 28 from 7 to 9 PM EST, the renowned NYC Lower East Side literary gathering space KGB Bar will host my dear compatriot Paolo Javier and me in a two-person poetry reading and film screening. Of course, we both wish we were gathering together in the historic environment of the actual KGB Bar, but pandemic times as they are, this is not to happen.  We accept the virtual world of Zoom, acknowledging the fact that in this particular cosmos, we can invite friends from around the country and world to join us.  If you are in the midst of Yom Kippur that evening, please join us while you break your fast.

This will be my first poetry reading in pandemic times. I will be reading from my new (and first) collection Year by Year Poems (Tender Buttons Press) along with some recent writing fresh from our shared, daunting now.  In addition to reading from my book, I will screen a couple of film-poem collaborations, including Starfish Aorta Colossus (made with Paolo Javier, 2015),  Visit to Bernadette Mayer’s Childhood Home (2020), and Girl is Presence (made with poet Anne Lesley Selcer, 2020)

We are grateful to KGB poetry programmer Jason Schneiderman who invited us to do this reading more than eight months ago.


Introduction by Jason Schneiderman

So we’re a poetry series—we call ourselves Monday Night Poetry at KGB—and Lynne Sachs is a poet, so you’ll be hearing her poems—but inside of Lynne’s work is also a challenge to the boundaries that have been drawn around poetry, and if we think about poetry as something distinct from other genres (not from other media, but from other genres), that definition of poetry emerged in two significant moments for me. One is the early modern period (or the renaissance if you like) when the sonnet entered English, and words for spoken voice became poetry and words intended to be sung to a melody became song—“lyric” having a claim to both of these genres, hence our continued use of “song lyrics” and “lyric poetry.” And then second is Modernism, when during the roughly forty year period from 1890 to 1920, poetry, like some sort of giant octopus began to absorb everything written that wasn’t obviously something else, like a novel, or a cookbook, or a bomb making manual—even though it was Amiri Baraka’s poem on how to make bombs that got Dial-a-Poem shut down in the 1960s. Poetry’s genre boundaries have always struck me as useful, I like them very much, but I also see how they can constrict as well as instruct. And one of the trends I see in contemporary letters is a move away from genre specialization. Rachel Zucker on a podcast confirmed my memory that in the 00’s, it was not cool for a poet to do anything but poetry, but now poets are reaching out past our boundaries, with notable moments like Warsan Shire collaborating with Beyonce. So how lucky we are to have Lynne Sachs, who for decades has been working at the boundary between poetry and film, and who will be presenting her own work, which engages the questions of medium, genre, image, and text, giving us a powerful sense of what art may look like going forward.

Please welcome Lynne Sachs.


And here’s some info on who we are and our poems:
Paolo Javier was born in the Philippines and grew up in Las Piñas, Metro Manila; Katonah, New York; Cairo, Egypt; and Vancouver, British Columbia. After working as a freelance journalist and running an experimental theater company in Canada, he returned to New York City, where he lives with his family. From 2010 to 2014, Javier was poet laureate of Queens, New York. His collections of poetry include: The Feeling Is Actual (2011); 60 lv bo(e)mbs (2005); the time at the end of this writing (2004), recipient of a Small Press Traffic Book of the Year Award; and, Court of the Dragon (2015), which Publisher’s Weekly called “a linguistic time machine.”

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Photo of Paolo with friend
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When Lynne Sachs turned fifty, she dedicated herself to writing a poem for every year of her life, so far. Each of the fifty poems investigates the relationship between a singular event in Sachs’ life and the swirl of events beyond her domestic universe. Published by Tender Buttons Press, Year by Year Poems juxtaposes Sachs’ finished poems, which move from her birth in 1961 to her half-century marker in 2011, with her original handwritten first drafts.  Paolo Javier wrote the introduction, and artist Abby Goldstein did the design.  On Sept. 28 at KGB, Lynne will read poems from her book as well as new texts written very recently.

“Lynne Sachs wrote one of 2019’s best books of poetry. The graceful, diaristic poems … successfully distill events and themes in the poet’s life and simultaneously, magically, reflect larger movements of history and culture. Intimate and imagistic, the poems unfold a series of miniature stories with sensuous rhythms, telling visual detail, and gentle humor. This beautifully designed book includes facsimiles of many of the poetry’s initial drafts, which subtly illumine this artist’s creative process.”  –  2019 Staff Pick, San Francisco Public Library
“These poems are innovative. They invite us in, encouraging us to play along. They give us a structure to enter into our own retrospective lives, our own distillations of time, our own superimpositions of the newsworthy world onto our most intimate moments.” – Sharon Harrigan, Cleaver: Philadelphia’s International Literary Magazine

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In case you would like a book, you can find Year by Year Poems here:

Small Press Distribution: https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9780927920209/year-by-year-poems.aspx
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Year-Poems-Lynne-Sachs/dp/0927920204

Poet’s House: Language Is a Temptation – Readings from Bernadette Mayer’s “Memory”

Poet’s House
Language Is a Temptation: Lynne Sachs reads July 30 from Bernadette Mayer’s Memory
Online Program
Jul 30, 2020 | 3:00 pm – 3:05 pm
https://poetshouse.org/event/language-is-a-temptation-lynne-sachs/

Language Is a Temptation: experimental filmmaker and artist Lynne Sachs reads July 30 from Bernadette Mayer’s Memory. 


Language Is a Temptation is a series of 3 minute readings from Bernadette Mayer’s Memory that are posted on our Instagram,YouTube, and website daily at 3pm.


In July 1971, Bernadette Mayer embarked on a month long experiment: every day she exposed a roll of 35mm film and kept a journal. The result was a groundbreaking, conceptual work, comprised of more than 1100 photographs and two hundred pages of text. Mayer’s durational and constraint-based diaristic work of poetry and photography investigates the nature of memory: its surfaces, textures and material.

In July 2020, Poets House and Siglio Press embark on a month long daily experiment: a passage from the corresponding day in 1971 will be read by poets, writers, critics, and artists, as a parallel durational work that celebrates the new publication of Bernadette Mayer’s Memory (Siglio Press, 2020), which brings together the full sequence of images and text for the first time in book form.