Drawing on her vast body of works from the past 30 years, we present a curated selection of films by Lynne Sachs, focusing on the notion of translation as a practice of encountering others, reshaping and reinterpreting filmic language and as a poetic and political tool for widening the world.
Five Lynne Sachs films ranging from 1994 - 2018 – mostly involving creative collaboration with others, feature as part of our online programme from 10 June until 31 August on our Selects VOD platform for UK audiences and Doc/Player for Digital Industry Passholders.
Her latest film, Film About a Father Who, offers a complex portrait of Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, shot over a period of 35 years, and will make its International Premiere in Sheffield in October, and following that, online, as part of Into The World Film Strand.
Together with the focus, we will present Sachs’ video lecture My Body, Your Body, Our Bodies: Somatic Cinema at Home and in the World, a fascinating journey through her themes and work.
Lynne Sachs also joined Festival Director Cintia Gil in a discussion about her films and lecture, with questions from a live audience.
The Last Happy Day, 2009, 37’
A portrait of Sandor (Alexander) Lenard, a Hungarian medical doctor and a distant cousin of Sachs. In 1938 Lenard, a writer with a Jewish background, fled the Nazis to Rome. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service hired him to reconstruct the bones of dead American soldiers. Eventually he found himself in Brazil where he translated “Winnie the Pooh” into Latin, an eccentric task that catapulted him to brief world-wide fame. Personal letters, abstracted war imagery, home movies, interviews, and a children’s performance create an intimate meditation on the destructive power of war.
Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam in collaboration with Dana Sachs, 1994, 33’
"A frog that sits at the bottom of a well thinks that the whole sky is only as big as the lid of a pot."
Two American sisters travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, followed by their own ghosts and those of local memories. On their way, they meet a country and its richness - strangers, translations, parables and stories, in a complex landscape. History is put into perspective as each conversation becomes a true encounter: uncountable possible words to translate what we see and what we hear. The Vietnam they knew from TV is only a tiny part of this world to which they now decide to pay attention.
Your Day Is My Night, 2013, 64’
Since the early days of New York’s Lower East Side tenement houses, working class people have shared beds, making such spaces a fundamental part of immigrant life. A “shift-bed” is an actual bed that is shared by people who are neither in the same family nor in a relationship. It’s an economic necessity brought on by the challenges of urban existence. Such a bed can become a remarkable catalyst for storytelling as absolute strangers become de facto confidants. As the bed transforms into a stage, the film reveals the collective history of Chinese immigrants in the USA, a story not often documented.
The Washing Society, co-directed by Lizzie Olesker, 2018, 44’
When you drop off a bag of dirty laundry, who’s doing the washing and folding? The Washing Society brings us into New York City laundromats and the experiences of the people who work there. With a title inspired by the 1881 organization of African-American laundresses, The Washing Society investigates the intersection of history, underpaid work, immigration, and the sheer math of doing laundry. Dirt, skin, lint, stains, money, and time are thematically interwoven into the very fabric of the film, through interviews and observational moments. With original music by sound artist Stephen Vitiello.
A Month of Single Frames, made with and for Barbara Hammer, 2019, 14’
In 1998, filmmaker Barbara Hammer had a one-month artist residency in the C Scape Duneshak which is run by the Provincetown Community Compact in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 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.
How do we negotiate the photographing of images that contain the body? What experiential, political or aesthetic contingencies do we bring to both the making and viewing of a cinema that contains the human form? If a body is different from our own—in terms of gender, skin colour, or age—do we frame it differently?
New York filmmaker Lynne Sachs guides us through her own evolution as a filmmaker by sharing excerpts from her films, from 1987 to the present, exploring the fraught and bewildering challenge of looking at the human form from behind the lens.
Film About A Father Who, 2020, 74'
Over a period of 35 years, L. Sachs shot varied footage of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering Utah businessman. This is her attempt to understand the web that connects child to parent and sister to sibling. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, Sachs’ cinematic exploration offers simultaneous, sometimes contradictory, views of one seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited centre of the frame yet privately ensconced in secrets. Sachs as a daughter discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.
Available to watch in cinemas or Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects in the Autumn.