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Lynne Sachs

I continue speaking about the work of the Catonsville Nine by traveling with Father Daniel Berrigan to colleges and conferences around the country. Together we show Investigation of a Flame to students and talk about peace and social justice. States of UnBelonging premieres in New York at the Margaret Mead Film Festival and internationally at the Jerusalem Film Festival.


I begin work on States of UnBelonging, an experimental cine-essay on Israeli Filmmaker Revital Ohayon, and receive a Jerome Foundation Grant and a New York State Council for the Arts Grant for this project.

I begin working as an adjunct professor in the film department at New York University, teaching a course in Avant-Garde Film and Video.


Never before has research felt more like detective work. I drive to remote federal prisons, arrange clandestine meetings near the Mexican border, photograph a household of “resistors” (lawbreakers with a cause). I am propelled into a national diaspora of people committed to the creation of a political manifesto for peace. In the idealistic tradition of so many 20th century iconoclasts, they construct a collective vision and manage to make the vernacular of poetry and drama central to their protest. I am stunned by their integration of art, expression, and action. Investigation of a Flame becomes an experimental documentary portrait of the Catonsville Nine, a disparate band of Vietnam War protesters who chose to break the law in a defiant, poetic act of civil disobedience

While making this film, I receive fellowships from the Maryland Arts Council and the Rockefeller Foundation and grants from the Maryland Humanities Council and the Puffin Foundation. The film is now touring festivals and theaters around the country and opened a documentary focus week at the Museum of Modern Art. It has won awards at the Maine Film Fest, the Ann Arbor Film Fest, the San Francisco Film Fest, Black Maria and the Athens Film Fest and screens nationally on the Sundance Channel.


I travel to Sarajevo on an Artslink Fellowship and develop a collaborative project that tests the boundaries between reality and fiction. In this devastated city where art somehow flourishes, I realize I am deeply fascinated by the effects of war on the imagination. Our website is a Bosnian-American collaboration which articulates the poignancy of a war-memory without relying on a hard and fast notion of the facts. I feel more than ever that artistic work that explores this dichotomy leads to insight outside the conventional truth-seeking practices of the documentary paradigm.


A Biography of Lilith weaves together mystical texts from Jewish folklore, interviews, music and poetry as a way of reclaiming a cabalistic parable. The story unravels in fits and starts, like a secret trying to reveal itself, eventually becoming a canvas in which I am able to frame my own role as a mother. With “Lilith”, a Jewish community in New York City steeped in the lore of the Kabala opens itself up to me as a documentarian, ultimately allowing me to find a deeper understanding of my own ethnic background and religion. In this film, I am once again melding the strands of history and memory through image and sound, this time as a way of encouraging my audience to think anew about a powerful, complex, and significant female figure. The film receives honors from the Charlotte Film Fest, New Jersey Film festival, Black Maria and the NY Expo.


I learn to see light in Vietnam. With only 40 minutes of film, I become an observer of the effects of the sun and the moon, waiting patiently for the right moment to turn on my camera. Looking at terrain that feels agonizingly familiar, I am provoked by the natural and cultural rituals that unravel. I watch the smoke of an incense stick coil to the sky. I am an aficionado of sidewalk shadows.

As expression of this artistic transformation, Which Way Is East (1994) juxtaposes a constantly inquiring camera eye with journal reflections kept by my sister Dana and myself while traveling together through Vietnam. Our conversations with a Hue teacher, a woman in a Cholon temple and a boy on a Danang street reveal to us another side to the Vietnam War, bringing into sharp focus the different experiences of our shared history. In retrospect, and to my surprise, I believe that I grapple with the detritus of the war and the questions it demands most deeply after my return from Vietnam, when I spend two years collecting parables and working on translations with people in the San Francisco Vietnamese community. With the support of another NEA Regional Fellowship, I make "Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam" with my sister Dana Sachs, a writer living in Hanoi. The film screens at the Sundance Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival (Grand Jury Prize), New York Film Expo( Best Documentary), Black Maria Film Fest (Director's Citation), Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Big Muddy Film Festival.


I make connections between the theory I've been reading and the art I am practicing. The convulsive thinking of the French feminists sends me into a tailspin. Not only are these abrasive texts shoving my sense of my body into a highly charged state of being, but the unconventional writing itself is stirring the very core of my filmmaking. At this time, I am consumed by the oppositional relationship between the medical industry and the needs/desires of women. In response, I develop a new, personal cinematic language that combines pointed criticism, collage, metaphor, and performance.

In The House of Science: a museum of false facts (1991), I continue using conversations, this time with grown women and young girls from my neighborhood who explored the impact that science and art had on their conceptions of their bodies. I hear memories of a visit to the gynecologist, a hygiene lesson, a viewing of a Rubens painting. By combining home movies, personal remembrances, staged scenes and found footage, I try to recast a girl's sometimes difficult coming of age rituals into a potent web for affirmation, critique and growth. In the process, I also come to a better understanding of my own teenage fears and awakenings. I receive a NEA Regional Fellowship to make this film which is awarded prizes at Charlotte Film Festival (First Prize Experimental), Atlanta Film Festival ( Honorable Mention Experimental), Black Maria Film Fest (Juror's Award), Athens Film Festival (Experimental Prize,) Utah Film Festival (First Prize Short Film). In 1993, I receive a San Francisco Bay Guardian GOLDIES award in recognition of all my work up until this year.


I discover experimental documentary, and I realize that film can be the locus for these two seemingly disparate modes of expression and discovery. I begin my first long film by immersing myself in a community, asking questions and listening. With Sermons and Sacred Pictures (1989), I return to my hometown of Memphis in order to piece together a portrait of a person whose historic identity seemed to be tumbling into oblivion. I listen to eleven people as they explore their almost forgotten pool of memories of Reverend Taylor. By talking quite specifically about his life, they are able to articulate even broader impressions of their own lives during the period of segregation in the South. In the posthumous pursuit of a man I would never know, I learn a great deal about my own childhood home and my awkward place in it. I am given grants from the Pioneer Fund for Documentary Filmmaking and the Film Arts Foundation for this project, which was awarded “Best Short Documentary” (1989) at the Athens and Sinking Creek Film Festivals. I have the great pleasure of being an invited guest at the Flaherty Film Seminar.


At seventeen, I have been spewing poetry and photography into the world for years, relishing the controlled privacy of my own imagination. Perched on a ledge looking across the vista of adulthood, I take a menial job stuffing envelopes for a folklore archive. In this context, I am introduced to Reverend L.O. Taylor through the films, images and sounds he made of the Black community in Memphis in the 1930's. I project his movies to churches throughout town, and, in the process, attain an understanding of my own relationship to art, community, history and memory.