Lahire studied Philosophy at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (BA), Fine Art Film at St Martin's School of Art, London, (1984) and Film & Environmental Media at the Royal College of Art, London (MA 1986). It was at St Martin's that she entered the world of independent film, working with artists including Malcolm Le Grice, Lis Rhodes, Tina Keane, and studying alongside the film-maker Isaac Julien.
Her poetic short films were made in the context of the London Film-Makers’ Cooperative which “developed a new form of mixed-genre film-making [….] which marked a new stage in experimental film in Britain”, according to Jacqueline Rose. Of this generation Rose has described Lahire as “one of the most gifted, innovative and bold experimental film-makers”.
Her first film, ‘’Arrows’’, 1984, was a meditation on anorexia, a subject that threaded throughout her work. In 1986 she made ‘’Terminals’’, ‘’Edge’’, and ‘’Plutonium Blonde’’. In 1987, working with film-makers Jean Matthee and Anna Thew, Lahire made ‘’Uranium Hex’’. ‘’Serpent River’’,1989, explored the toxic effects of a uranium mining corporation, owned by Rio Tinto Zinc, on the residents and inhabitants of Serpent River and Elliott Lake in Ontario, Canada. In 1991 she made ‘’Lady Lazarus’’, the first part of a trilogy ‘’Living on Air’’, which was inspired by the poetry of Sylvia Plath and which she made across the span of nine years. The film incorporated an interview with Plath given just before she died. The lead of ‘’Living on Air’’ was played by fellow film-maker Sarah Turner. ‘’Eerie’’ followed in 1992. The second part of the Plath trilogy, ‘’Night Dances’’, 1995, presented Hebrew inscriptions on worn gravestones and allusions to Yom Kippur through which Lahire explored Jewish aspects of her identity. ‘’Persephone’’ and ‘’Knife Born’’ were made in 1997-98, with the final of the Plath trilogy, ‘’Johnny Panic’’, appearing in 1999.
Marina Grzinic has noted Lahire's “profound filmic commentary on anorexia. The body, always that body that is coming near the image of a spectre, that is connected solely with 'air and bones' while minimizing the flesh to zero, is also the primal element she uses to establish her relationship with her surroundings, particularly with a landscape destroyed by pollution or nuclear waste.” Grzinic also underscores the centrality of light and sound in her works, with which “she recreated emotional situations and connections between personal obsession(s) and social structures.”
An essay by Lahire, Lesbians in Media Education, appeared in the anthology Visibly Female: Feminism and Art, edited by Hilary Robinson in 1998. She also wrote an essay for Coil Magazine 'The Fairies Banquet', 1999, on Sarah Pucill's film Swollen Stigma (1998) who was her fellow filmmaker and partner at the time. For Make Magazine Issue 7, which was a special issue on the Miniature 1999, she wrote an essay, 'Little Deaths', on her film Johnny Panic (1999) and Sarah Pucill's film Cast (1999).
Reflections on Lahire and her work by film-makers Sarah Pucill (who was her partner in the last 6 years of her life), Lis Rhodes (for whom Lahire wrote a score for her film Just About Now ) and Sarah Turner appeared in Vertigo magazine in Spring 2002.
- Rose, Jacqueline. "Sandra Lahire: Filmmaker at the forefront of experimental feminist cinema". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
- Rose, Jacqueline. "Sandra Lahire Obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- "Sandra Lahire: Uranium Hex". Arts Catalyst. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
- "Uranium Hex". Lux. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Grzinic, Marina. "Sandra Lahire". Lux. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Robinson, Hilary. "Visibly Female". amazon.com. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- "Sandra Lahire". Women Make Movies. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
- "Sandra Lahire". Vertigo Magazine. Retrieved 7 February 2014.