The filmmaker has been making films for a long time, building an archive of experimental feature films and short films. Some were presented, at the time of writing, in an online virtual cinema festival at the Moving Image Museum in Queens, New York. Sachs is the sister of Ira Sachs (“Keep the Lights On”, “Love is Strange”), and based on the interviews collected here, the entire extended family has an artistic and / or literary mindset even when they are earns a living in another way. You hear a lot about how playful, adventurous, and daring the dad was back then, but also how emotionally distant (one child says he seemed to exist in a somewhat detached environment, rarely exhibiting extremes of euphoria / happiness or anger / sadness.
There are a lot of sardonic jokes about his sex life, which impacted the kids (and his eventual ex-wife) in a way that troubled everyone but him. The ostensible trigger for this film was the revelation in 2016 that there were two more children of another woman, beyond those who were already known, their names obscured in an insurance document. The film never gives any indication as to why this particular piece of information would shock the family when taking stock when the list of past outrages and scandals was already so stupendously long. It’s not a failure, exactly, but it momentarily causes the viewer to ask questions that are outside or beyond the scope of the film itself. One of the director’s sisters cries as she says she knew she had other siblings but had to wait to meet them because her father was adamant they didn’t would not be connected until the death of his own mother. Why? She wants to know. Why place this restriction on the truth? Who was protected?
Kaleidoscopic in both its assortment of materials and assembly, this feature doesn’t sort through all the different aspects of the father’s life so much as it sifts through them in a fixed and somewhat bewildered manner – like a detective examining the contents of a thick file that spilled over the floor, rightly impressed with the amount of work to be done to even begin to understand all the intricacies; or, to be more trite in my comparison, like a child who has discovered a new nasty truth about a parent, in addition to all the other nasty truths she already knew, and is in shock even as she tries to reframe the image in a calm and rational manner.