Lynne Sachs

Lecture: Taking a Documentary Detour
Tuesday, April 26: 10:15 - 12:15pm
Noble Lounge

As a filmmaker, Lynne Sachs grapples with the natural, social, cultural and political phenomena she witnesses through the lens of her camera. In “Taking a Documentary Detour”, Sachs will discuss her associative, non-literal approach to images in the context of her new enthusiasm for mixing fiction and non-fiction modes of production. Recently, after 25 years of making experimental documentaries, Sachs learned something that turned all her ideas about filmmaking upside down.  She was working on Your Day is My Night , her film about Chinese immigrants in New York, when she came to see that every time she asked a person to talk in front of her camera, they would “perform” for her rather than revealing something completely honest about their lives. The very process of recording guaranteed that some aspect of the project would be artificial.  “I had to think of a way to subvert the rigidity of both the documentary and the narrative model, so I decided to invite the people in my film to work with me to make the film, to become my collaborators.”  In her lecture, Sachs will explore influential hybrid modes of working including Ariane Mnouchkine’s Theatre du Soleil, Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A, Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, and Jia Zhangke’s 24 City.  Sachs will also show clips from her two current works-in-process Every Fold Matters and Tip of My Tongue.


Lynne Sachs makes films, installations, performances and web projects that explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together poetry, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. 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 each and every new project. Between 1994 and 2009, her five essay films 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. Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, Lynne searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with each and every new project.  Since 2006, she has collaborated with her partner Mark Street in a series of playful, mixed-media performance collaborations they call The XY Chromosome Project. In addition to her work with the moving image, Lynne co-edited the Millennium Film Journal issue on “Experiments in Documentary”. Supported by fellowships from the Rockefeller and Jerome Foundations and the New York State Council on the Arts, Lynne’s films have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival and Toronto’s Images Festival. Recently, Lynne began a series of live film performances of Your Day is My Night in alternative theater spaces around New York City. She then completed the hour-long hybrid video which premiered at the Museum of Modern Art and screened at the Vancouver Film Fest, Union Docs, the New Orleans Film Fest and other venues in the US and abroad. In 2014, the China Women’s Film Festival hosted Lynne in Beijing and Shanghai during a mini-retrospective of her films. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts in 2014. Lynne will be a visiting artist at Princeton University in fall 2016.  For more info: www.lynnesachs.com


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