Lynne Sachs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Lynne Sachs (born August 10, 1961 in Memphis, Tennessee) is an American experimental filmmaker who makes films, videos, installations and web projects exploring the relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. She is known for weaving together poetry, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. After graduating from Brown University and majoring in history, she developed an interest in experimental documentary filmmaking while attending the 1985 Robert Flaherty Documentary Film Seminar through a scholarship. There, she was particularly inspired by the works of Bruce Conner, who would later become her mentor, and Maya Deren. That same year, Sachs moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University and later the San Francisco Art Institute. It was during this time that she studied and collaborated with Trinh T. Minh-ha, George Kuchar and Gunvor Nelson.


In 1989, Sachs returned to Memphis, her hometown, to shoot Sermons and Sacred Pictures, her first long format experimental documentary. The film is a portrait of Reverend L. O. Taylor, an African-American minister and filmmaker from the 1930s and 40s. This film screened at the Museum of Modern Art and the Margaret Mead Film Festival that year.

Over the last two decades she has worked in sites affected by international war, such as Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel and Germany. Her films and web projects expose what she defines as the “limits of a conventional documentary representation of both the past and the present”. It is in this style that she has produced five pieces (Which Way Is East, The House of Drafts, Investigation of a Flame, States of Unbelonging and The Last Happy Day) grouped together as the I AM NOT A WAR PHOTOGRAPHER series.[1]

Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and Jerome Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, as well as residencies at the Experimental Television Center and the MacDowell Colony. Sachs’ films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the Pacific Film Archive, the Sundance Film Festival and the New York Film Festival.

In 2007, the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema presented a retrospective of her work. That same year, she collaborated with Chris Marker on a remake of his short film Three Cheers for the Whale. She returned to Argentina in 2008 to film her first narrative project, Wind in Our Hair, inspired by the short stories of Julio Cortázar. Additionally, she co-edited with film historian Lucas Hildebrand the Summer 2009 Millennium Film Journal issue #51 on “Experiments in Documentary”.

She currently teaches experimental film and video at New York University and lives in Brooklyn, New York with filmmaker Mark Street[permanent dead link] and their two daughters Maya and Noa Street-Sachs. She is the sister of filmmaker Ira Sachs and author Dana Sachs.

Films and other media[edit]

In her films, Sachs has said she wants to rupture traditional chronological narrative.[2]

  • Drawn and Quartered (1986)
  • Still Life With Woman and Four Objects (1986)
  • Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning (1987)
  • Sermons and Sacred Pictures (1989)
  • The House of Science: a museum of false facts (1991)
  • Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam (1994)
  • A Biography of Lilith (1997)
  • Window Work (2000)[3]
  • Photograph of Wind (2001)
  • Horror Vacui: Nature Abhors a Vacuum (2000)
  • Investigation of a Flame (2001)
  • Tornado (2002)
  • The House of Drafts (2002)
  • Atalanta 32 Years Later (2006)
  • Noa, Noa (2006)
  • The Small Ones (2006)
  • States of UnBelonging (2006)
  • XY Chromosome Project (2007)[3]
  • Abecedarium: NYC (2007)
  • Georgic for a Forgotten Planet (2008)
  • The Last Happy Day (2009)[2]
  • Wind in Our Hair (2009)
  • The Task of the Translator (2010)
  • Sound of a Shadow (2011)
  • Your Day is My Night (2013)[4]
  • Drift and Bough (2014)
  • Starfish Aorta Colossus (2015)[5]
  • Tip of My Tongue (2017)

Multimedia and recent years (2005-present)[edit]

Commissioned in 2008 by the New York Public Library, Lynne Sachs ventured into the realm of online installations with artist and designer Susan Agliata on the piece Abecedarium NYC. The interactive project is an online alphabet of obscure words represented by short films made by Sachs and other collaborators such as filmmakers David Gatten and George Kuchar. In addition to this, the project is meant to stand as an ongoing exploration through participatory blog threads and collaboration with other online media forums [6] open to the public.

In 2010, Sachs teamed up with her brother Ira Sachs and decided to adapt his short film Last Address into an exterior window installation on the sides of the Kimmel Center in Manhattan, New York. The piece is a meditation on some of the most prolific New York-based artists of the 80's and 90's who died of AIDS in this city, such as Ethyl Eichelberger, David Wojnarowicz and Reynaldo Arenas. The installation was up for several months; designer Bernard Blythe and media artist Sofía Gallisá were collaborators.

In recent years, one of the recurring themes in Sachs' work has been the translation of language and how it affects cultural interaction. Her exploration of this subject has been reflected in her last five films, which include the story of a Hungarian doctor who translated Winnie the Pooh into Latin (The Last Happy Day) and a visual haiku about her visit to Japan made in collaboration with Mark Street (Sound of a Shadow). In the Autumn of 2010, The Hungarian Quarterly journal also published an article written by Sachs on the story behind The Last Happy Day and her discovery of her cousin Sandor Lenard.[7]

In 2011, Oxford University Press published "The Essay Film: From Montaigne After Marker", a book by Timothy Corrigan which dedicates a chapter to discussing Sachs' film "States of Unbelonging" in relation to works by Harun Farocki and Ari Folman. Later that same year, The National Gallery of Art presented a two-week series of screenings and lectures of her work as part of their American Originals Now series.

In 2013, Sachs completed the hybrid-documentary Your Day is My Night which features residents of a New York City Chinatown shift-bed apartment sharing their stories of personal and political upheaval. The film premiered at the Museum of Modern Art Documentary Fortnight and later screened at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Images Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Traverse City Film Festival. Stuart Klawans of The Nation wrote, the film is "a strikingly handsome, meditative work: a mixture of reportage, dreams, memories and playacting, which immerses you in an entire world that you might unknowingly pass on the corner of Hester Street." [8]


External links[edit]