What a week! With all the madness at Sundance, we hardly got a chance to update and let you know how things were going with our screenings. Well, now we have a little breathing room before Berlin and can change all that. The long and the short of it is – Keep The Lights On definitely made it’s mark at the Sundance Film Festival. We were one of the most buzzed about films at the festival, and also one of the best reviewed. Salon.com‘s Andrew O’Hehir described the film as “an instant landmark in gay cinema, and easily the finest dramatic film I saw at Sundance this year”, while LA Weekly‘s Karina Longworth called it “a richly textured, sad and beautiful autobiographical love story.” David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter said of the film, “Breaking new ground in contemporary American gay cinema, Ira Sachs’ deeply personal drama Keep the Lights On examines a volatile 10-year relationship between two divergently addictive personalities, observed in a style that is loose and impressionistic while at the same time microscopic in its intimate detail.”
Other reviews compared Sachs’ work favorably to films like Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage and Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, last year’s groundbreaking gay English romance film. The lead performances of KTLO actors Thure Lindhardt, Zachary Booth, and Julianne Nicholson were also praised by critics across the board. Around the festival, word of mouth built steadily over the week, with straight audiences and gay alike finding common spaces to appreciate the film’s unique take on a fractured relationship story. For a full rundown of all the reviews and press mentions KTLO accumulated over the week, click below. We’ll be updating the list as more reviews roll in. Next stop – Berlin! More…
Though feature films often dominate the conversation at the Sundance Film Festival, the smart filmgoer pays just as close attention to the shorts, many of which are turned into features after attracting attention on the festival circuit. Director Rhys Ernst’s short film The Thing was one of the most exciting shorts I saw at the festival this past weekend. Afterwards, I spoke with Ernst about how the film came to be, a pivotal road trip he took, and his thoughts on trans representation in cinema.
Describe what your short is about?
The Thing is about a couple –a woman and a transgendered man– who are traveling on a road trip with their cat towards a mysterious roadside attraction called “The Thing.” The closer and closer they’re getting toward their destination the further and further they’re getting from each other.
Where did the idea for the short come from?
Since I’m trans I certainly had a stake in putting that character out there. Obviously there’s a lack of trans men characters in film, but I didn’t want to make an identity film, I wanted to have the issue folded into a much larger narrative so it could appeal to all different kinds of audience members. I have gone on a lot of calamitous road trips and when I moved to LA from New York I brought my cat with me in the car.
Isn’t that sort of dangerous for a cat to travel that way?
The cat was okay. He was a little freaked out, but he was okay. My friend and I would sneak him into hotel rooms. It was so comic and strange it was one kernel for the film. The rest of it’s not particularly autobiographical – though I did grow up going on lots of road trips with my family. It’s so American – these tourist roadside attraction places. They’re these nice emblems of something that’s totally mysterious. More…
The 2012 Sundance Film Festival has gotten off to an amazing start with premiere screenings of Queen of Versailles and the astonishing Beasts of the Southern Wild. But we’re most excited, of course, about our own world premiere tonight at 8PM at the Library Center Theatre. Make sure to follow @ktlomovie on Twitter so you can read the instant reactions after the film’s over! See you tonight!
This month’s entry of Mr. James Bidgood’s friend Biddy’s advice column is appropriately Sundance Film Festival related. A fellow filmmaker writes in to ask Biddy a common question about rejection, eliciting one a lengthy and brilliant response. Read on….
Dear Biddy B,
I’m very upset because a film that I worked very hard on didn’t get into one of the major film festivals that I was hoping it would. I can’t get over feeling bad about myself even though I know that the odds are not in my favor with this festival. Can you offer some words of wisdom to help me feel better?
Well Mister Unsigned, Dahling, rejection is always to some degree quite devastating and often rather humiliating, whether it is via a response from a Guggenheim committee or loitering at the urinals in a men’s room. In both instances a glimmer of kindness might make the cold shoulder less glacial but what care those with notions stuck in the ice age. No one hits only home runs and some of us strike out every time we reach for a bat or whatever! More…
Tomorrow I fly in the morning to Park City for Sundance. It will be my fifth time there with a film, and probably my 20th time there over the decades, since my father has lived in Park City since the mid-70s. He moved out there in a Winnebago, and set up camp behind Utah Coal & Lumber, the one restaurant in town, where they made a very good pineapple burrito. This was when Park City was a sleepy hippy town, and I went to what was then called the US Film Festival for the first time in 1981, when the films screening were Melvin and Howard, Heartland, Return of the Secaucus Seven, as well as a great Henry Fonda retrospective that included My Darling Clementine and The Lady Eve. It was at Sundance that I saw my first Cassavetes movie, that I saw the first screening ever of Sex, Lies and Videotape, and of both Poison and Safe. But also any number of films we don’t talk about any more, but that were amazing. Films like Patti Rocks, and Silverlake Life, and Heat and Sunlight. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s did it suddenly click to me that maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that — given that I went to Sundance every year from when I was 15 to at least 25 — that I thought I might become an independent filmmaker. More…
Memo No. 2l
Hairs on head bristle
against hairs on head. Cheeks mash.
Lips meet zipper-like.
Memo No. 3p
First date pot roast: I-
rish mother cuisine; touched your
lumbar, made you hard.
Memo No. 4p
You cried once in bed.
I asked “why” and pulled you close.
We stopped having sex.
Memo No. 6a
You driving and pull-
ing my cum from me with the
seat belt strapped on tight.
Memo No. 7a
On my knees in the
you-pick field: sweetest white corn
I ever tasted.
Memo No. 7p
October air nips
at naked legs. You taught me
the scent of bay leaves.
Memo No. 9a
Thick with mud, standing
on dinosaur bones, you jacked
me off in the spring.
Ira Sachs, Academy Award-winning sound mixer Dom Tavella (Chicago, Forty Shades of Blue, Black Swan) and Sound Designer Damian Volpe tweak the final mix in advance of Keep The Lights On‘s Sundance premiere in one week!
We’re pleased to bring you the third and final section of William Leo Coakley’s autobiographical essay (part one, part two) tracing his life and experiences in the poetry world from the mid-20th century to today. When we last left off — as they used to say on the soaps — Willie and his partner Robin were in Italy, staying with one of the stars of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and appearing as extras in spaghetti westerns to pay for their extended stay!
When we returned to New York, we had to get back to regular work. Robin decided to concentrate more on his writing, translating for the theatre, coaching, and teaching speech. I was off to the New York Public Library as Managing Editor of Publications, able to publish interesting books from the archives, including, it turned out, many by queer authors: Whitman, Wilde, Woolf, and Auden, among them. And Robin and I started the poetry publishing press: Helikon Press. More…