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The Outfest Interviews: A Word With Ira Sachs, Director And Writer Of Keep The Lights On

The Outfest Interviews: A Word With Ira Sachs, Director Of Keep The Lights One

Outfest 2012 is happening in Los Angeles from July 12 through July 22. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Los Angeles LGBT film festival, we will be sharing interviews with filmmakers and persons involved with movies being screened. See all of our Outfest Interviews here.

Ira Sachs‘ film Keep The Lights On is one of the most lauded films to pass through Outfest this year. The film screened at both the Berlin Film Festival and Sundance earlier this year and even won this year’s Teddy Award for Best Feature Film. The movie is a very personal piece, directed and co-written by Sachs, following the story of two men in New York whose love and sexual chemistry rockets them through various highs and lows. The film made its Outfest appearance earlier this week and is going to be released theatrically September 7. We had a chance to speak with Sachs on the film, hearing his Outfest history, how quickly it took the movie to get made, and the community surrounding the film.

Outfest is one of the most well known LGBT film festivals in the world and has had films shared that have gone on to have profound affects on the world. Can you tell us a little bit yourself and your film?

I’ve spent the last four years as a community activist in New York within the art world, the film world and the gay world. I run a film series, I organized a group of film directors who get together once a month. I’ve sort of built a community that when I ultimately wanted to make this film, I was able to reach out to the community around me who came forward to support the project. To tell you the truth, it was the shortest development process I’ve ever done. I finished the script in January and I said at that point that I wanted to start shooting the film in July no matter what the economics allowed me to do. And I met that goal. That was a different way of approaching filmmaking because I said, ‘I don’t want to be in a process in which I am dependant on other sources. I’m going to be truly independent.’

The Outfest Interviews: A Word With Ira Sachs, Director Of Keep The Lights One

Is this the first time you’ve had a film shown at Outfest?

I was here in 1997 with my first feature, The Delta, for which I won an award for an Emerging Talent. I can’t oversell the importance of that kind of validation early in my career. I’ve also shown several of my shorts here, Vaudeville (1991), 10/26/00 (2001), and Last Address (2010).

People will be coming from all over the world to share and see films at Outfest. What are you hoping people take away from your film?

I hope the film encourages people to be transparent and open with the life they live. In a way it’s about two people nearly destroyed by the power of their own secrets. And I think that’s really a theme of the film, how these things we keep from each other are ultimately so destructive both in our relationships to ourselves and to other people as lovers, as friends, and family. So I hope the film encourages conversation about the way we live as individuals. That includes conversations about our behavior, about our relationship to sex, our relationship to monogamy, our relationship to addiction, our relationship to each other. All of these things are central to the film.

The Outfest Interviews: A Word With Ira Sachs, Director Of Keep The Lights One

Similarly, is there anything specifically Angelenos can take away from your film? Your work speaks to multiple audiences; however, are there certain themes, images, or concepts that may hit Angelenos deeper than other viewers?

The film at its center is about two men and their relationship.

But it’s also about a certain kind of urban community that many of us live in that is no longer defined as gay or straight. Those borders don’t exist any more in the same way, fortunately. I live in New York, but I’m sure that in Los Angeles, as well the lines between people, the identity we take on as individuals, has been blurred. This is also a film about a community. It’s an art community and a literary community, so I’m hoping it connects to Los Angeles viewers in that way.

The Outfest Interviews: A Word With Ira Sachs, Director Of Keep The Lights One

Looking into the future, what’s next for you and the film after Outfest? Where else will your film be going? What are you hopes for the film?

The film opens theatrically on September 7 in New York and Los Angeles, before it expands to other cities. We have a website where readers can share their own stories and experiences. By creating a dialogue and community surrounding the film, I’m hoping to prove that there can be away to make queer cinema sustainable.

We’re so excited to see this film and are very, very bummed that we were unable to make the screening this past Monday. Regardless, the film will be coming to Los Angeles in less than two months, which is very exciting. For more on the film, explore their website, check their Facebook, and follow their Twitter as well.

Top photo via.

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