Dec 7, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Tip of My Tongue
Screening to be followed by discussion with Lynne Sachs and Su Friedrich
UnionDocs is excited to welcome filmmaker Lynne Sachs to present her latest feature Tip of My Tongue, as a part of the weekend’s workshop A LETTER TO THE WORLD: Experiments in Essay Filmmaking.
Sachs celebrates turning 50 by creating a social experiment in history, memory, and the shape of things. Her collaborators are a diverse group of New Yorkers around her same age whom she invites to spend a weekend exploring the five decades leading to this moment.
Screen Slate called it “A mesmerizing ride through time, a dreamscape full of reflection, filled with inspired use of archival footage, poetry, beautiful cinematography and music.”
She will be joined in conversation by Filmmaker and workshop instructor Su Friedrich after the program.
Tip of My Tongue
80 min., 2017
Lynne Sachs’ lively and always fascinating documentary “Tip Of My Tongue” breathes life and even laughter into collective remembrances of the last third or so of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century. Sachs is turning 50. As with other people reaching that milestone, it’s an occasion for looking back. But rather than conducting an exercise in solo reminiscence, the filmmaker invites friends and acquaintances who are around the same age for a weekend of remembering moments from their lives over the past five decades.
Sachs’ record of her experiment avoids airless nostalgia to become a living breathing chronicle. The film’s not concerned with calling up memories for a particular year. The frequent sight of years being written on surfaces other than paper unchains the participants’ memories from the fetters of the concrete past. Instead, the recalled stories possess both present-day parallels and a small resurrected detail from the past. A childhood recollection of the Kennedy assassination seems like a foreshadowing of children’s lives ruined by the possibility of gun violence. A biracial man’s memory reminds the viewer of just how relatively recently interracial relationships were still illegal. There’s an air of playfulness to the whole project. Excerpts from the filmmaker’s poetry over the years deflate the seriousness of momentous events such as the Moon Landing. Expected period footage coexists with irreverent animation. One memory play evokes the joy of sitting underneath a tree and chatting with friends on a summer day.Sachs’ unconventional documentary style will disconcert more literal-minded viewers. Sometimes one person’s story is cut off midway through on the soundtrack and replaced with a tale from a different person. Nor does Sachs directly identify any of the participants, even herself. Some repeated shots are metaphors for the process Sachs is chronicling. But the filmmaker’s approach pays off. Sachs’ film shows that living with and through a momentous event doesn’t have to diminish our own personal experiences. — Peter Wong, Beyond Chron
Special thanks to:
Cinematographer: Sean Hanley
Editor: Amanda Katz
Music and Sound Designer: Stephen Vitiello
Archival Researcher: Craig Baldwin
Cast: Dominga Alvarado, Mark Cohen, Sholeh Dalai, Andrea Kannapell, Sarah Markgraf, Shira Nayman, George Sanchez, Adam Schartoff, Erik Schurink, Accra Shepp, Sue Simon, and Jim Supanick
“A beautiful, poetic collage of memory, history, poetry, and lived experience, in all its joys, sorrows, fears, hopes, triumphs, and tragedies … rendered in exquisite visual terms, creating an artful collective chronicle of history.” Christopher Bourne, Screen Anarchy
“An examination of one generation’s complex and diverse navigation between public and private experience.” Film International
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 every new project. 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. Recently, after 25 years of making experimental documentaries, Sachs learned something that turned her filmmaking upside down. While working on Your Day is My Night (2013) in NYC’s Chinatown, she saw that her subjects were performing for her rather than revealing something completely honest about their lives. The process of recording guaranteed that some aspect of the project would be artificial. This moved Sachs toward a new type of filmmaking — she invited her subjects to become her collaborators — to work with her to make the film about their lives.
Sachs has made over 25 films, supported by fellowships from the Rockefeller and Jerome Foundations and the New York State Council on the Arts. Her films have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival and Toronto’s Images Festival. Her work has also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, Walker Art Center, Wexner Center for the Arts and other venues nationally and internationally.
Su Friedrich began filmmaking in 1978 and has produced and directed twenty 16mm films and videos, including Gut Renovation (2012), From the Ground Up (2007), Seeing Red (2005),The Head of a Pin (2004), The Odds of Recovery (2002), Hide and Seek (1996), Rules of the Road (1993), First Comes Love (1991), Sink or Swim (1990), Damned If You Don’t (1987), The Ties That Bind (1984), and Gently Down the Stream (1981). Her films have won many awards, including the Grand Prix at the Melbourne Film Festival and Outstanding Documentary at Outfest. Friedrich has received fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations as well as numerous grants from the Jerome Foundation, NYFA, NYSCA and ITVS, and in 1995 she received the Cal Arts/Alpert Award. Her work is widely screened in the United States, Canada and Europe and has been the subject of retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, The London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, The Stadtkino in Vienna, the Pacific Cinematheque in Vancouver, the National Film Theater in London, the Buenos Aires Festival of Independent Cinema, the New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the First Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, the Cork Film Festival in Ireland, the Wellington Film Festival in New Zealand, The Bios Art Center in Athens, Greece, and the Anthology Film Archives in New York. Friedrich is the writer, cinematographer, director and editor of all her films, with the exception of Hide and Seek, which was co-written by Cathy Quinlan and shot by Jim Denault. Her work is screened and distributed widely throughout the US, Canada and Europe. She teaches film & video production at Princeton University. Her DVD collection is distributed by Outcast Films.