Media Arts Program

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

$8 general, $6 students/seniors, $5 members

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Filmmaker Lynne Sachs, In Person, presents Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor & Tip of My Tongue

composite of stills from Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor
still from Tip of My Tongue
still from Tip of My Tongue
Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor
(8 min., 2018.) Three renowned women artists discuss their passion for filmmaking.


Tip of My Tongue
(80 min., color, 2017.)

Experimental documentary filmmaker Lynne Sachs—who visited Hallwalls in 1992, 2003, 2009, and 2014—returns to show two recent films, including the new short film Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor, which features two artists who have themselves visited Hallwalls over the years: Carolee Schneemann (Homerunmuse, March 13, 1979) and Barbara Hammer (April 22, 1985, Nov. 7, 1992 & April 5, 2007).

Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor (Super 8mm & 16mm film transferred to digital, 8 min., 2018.) From 2015 to 2017, Lynne visited with Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer, and Gunvor Nelson, three multi-faceted artists who have embraced the moving image throughout their lives. From Carolee's 18th-century house in the woods of upstate New York to Barbara's West Village studio to Gunvor's childhood village in Sweden, Lynne shoots film with each woman in the place where she finds grounding and spark.

Tip of My Tongue (80 min., color, 2017.) To celebrate her 50th birthday, Sachs (who grew up in Memphis, Tennessee) gathers together other people—men and women—who have lived through precisely the same years but come from other places—Iran and Cuba, Australia and the Lower East Side. She invites 12 fellow New Yorkers—born across several continents in the 1960s—to spend a weekend with her making a movie. Together they discuss some of the most salient, strange, and revealing moments of their lives in a brash, self-reflexive examination of the way in which uncontrollable events outside our own domestic universe impact who we are. They move from Vietnam War protests to the Anita Hill hearings to the Columbine Shootings to Occupy Wall Street. Using the backdrop of the horizon as it meets the water in each of NYC's five boroughs as well as abstracted archival material, TIP OF MY TONGUE becomes an activator in the resurrection of complex, sometimes paradoxical reflections. Traditional timelines are replaced by a multi-layered, cinematic architecture that both speaks to and visualizes the nature of historical expression.

"In Tip of My Tongue, the past is unearthed, turned over and reconsidered in new and astonishing ways. To mark her 50th birthday, filmmaker Lynne Sachs gathers a group of her contemporaries—all New Yorkers but originally hailing from all corners of the globe—for a weekend of recollection and reflection on the most life-altering personal, local, and international events of the past half-century, creating a collective distillation of their times. Interspersed with poetry and flashes of archival footage, this poignant reverie reveals how far beyond our control life is, and how far we can go despite this." Kathy Brew, Museum of Modern Art

CREDITS: Directed by Lynne Sachs. Cinematography: Sean Hanley. Editing: Amanda Kat. Music & Sound Design: Stephen Vitiello. Featuring: Dominga Alvarado, Mark Cohen, Sholeh Dalai, Andrea Kannapell, Sarah Markgraf, Shira Nayman, George Sanchez, Adam Schartoff, Erik Schurink, Accra Shepp, Sue Simon, & Jim Supanick. Supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Arts and a McDowell Colony Residency

Review of Lynne Sachs’s Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor, April 4, 2018

Selected Screenings:

Museum of Modern Art Documentary Fortnight Closing Night Film; Athens Film & Video Festival; Indie Memphis; Festival Encuentros del Otro Cine (EDOC), Ecuador; Currents New Media Festival, Santa Fe; Maine International Film Festival; Wexner Center for the Art; San Francisco Cinematheque; Mill Valley Film Festival; Anthology Film Archives; Three Rivers Film Festival, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts; Lightbox Theater, Philadelphia; Wellesley College; Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center; Union Docs Center for Documentary, Williamsburg, NY.

Excerpts from Press:

"Tip of My Tongue is entrancing. As someone who was born in the mid '90s, I am distantly removed from many of the events mentioned in the film. To hear personal accounts of the Iranian revolution or Nixon's resignation was surreal for me, offering me a glimpse into a past I never experienced. I can only imagine the memories Tip of My Tongue would unearth for those who have lived through those same events. This film offers viewers a brilliant visual representation of what it means to remember. The metaphor one participant uses to describe the nature of political change can easily be applied to the human brain: 'It's like the paradigm of being part of an organism rather than part of a machine.' It's hardly simple, or even logical, but isn't the complexity what makes it so interesting?" (Agnes Films).

"A mesmerizing ride through time, a dreamscape full of reflection, filled with inspired use of archival footage, poetry, beautiful cinematography, and music. Raises the question of how deeply events affect us, while granting us enough room to crash into our own thoughts, or float on by, rejoicing in the company of our newfound friends" (Sonya Redi, Screen Slate).

"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" (David Finkelstein, "Tip of My Tongue: Film Scratches: Public Stories, Private Memories." Film International).

"Lynne Sachs's Tip of My Tongue opens space for intimate reflection as it convenes a coterie of the filmmaker's New York City peers for intimate personal musings on aging, growth, and life on earth during the last five decades. Through a collage of sounds, voices, lushly rendered cinematography and evocative archival footage, Tip of My Tongue forms a gentle dreamscape of conversation and confession as it models interpersonal connection and listening warmth as bolster against the ever-darkening days" (Steve Polta, San Francisco Cinematheque).

"Filmmaker Lynne 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. Their experiences intermingle while they engage in the act of remembering those things that have impacted their lives and shaped who they are—ranging from the assassinations of [Bobby] Kennedy and King, the moon landing, parental infidelities, and Watergate to a first taste of Tang. Tapestries of sound and image dodge and weave the disentangling of one person's memory, hopscotching to the next when a six-year-old in a long hallway is presented with a ring inscribed with 'I Have a Dream.' The result is a transfixing world of dream, imagination, and social reality, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" (Mill Valley Film Festival).

"Lynne Sachs's 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. 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's 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 [Bobby] 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's 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, "The Voice of the Rest," Beyond Chron).

"Sachs has always taken an innovative approach to her subjects, gently offering the most world-turning observation in first-personal voiceover, with expertly impressionistic camerawork, in often uniquely collaborative frameworks. The result has…notes of humor, irony, sarcasm, even as the dialogue and event itself hold to one of the fundamentals of Sachs's entire career: a bold sincerity. In the compilation, there is something truer than 'facts' can deliver. Truth of the kind usually only fiction helps us find" (Susan Gerhard, "Immersed: Bathing in Memory," in Poverty Arts Journal, Oct. 17, 2017).

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Tues.—Fri. 11-6
Sat. 11-2
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from Jan. 10, 2020
through Feb. 28, 2020

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This exhibition by Ithaca-area artist Sarah Sutton will feature a series of monochromatic oil paintings that combine representational imagery with distortions and abstractions that create scenarios in flux. They are essentially landscape paintings, but Sutton's treatment of the landscape toys with its sense of space and the notion of the built vs. the natural environment.

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