Out of the Dark

With Keep the Lights On, his powerful new movie about an ill-fated romance, filmmaker Ira Sachs shines a light on his own sex and drug-fueled past.



You cast Thure and Zachary to play lovers without having them read together first. Were you nervous when it came time to shoot that they wouldn’t have chemistry together?
Thure came to America about a week before shooting and I sent them out on a date without me. They went to see to a Broadway play. I think it was Anything Goes or Next to Normal. Then they went out to a club and danced until late in the night and they got along really, really well. And I think that was the best thing. These two guys had an enormous affection for each other that I think turned into a kind of love and friendship. On the advice of director Antonio Campos, who had just done a film with a lot of sex, we shot the sex scenes early. We shot the opening sex scene of the movie on the second day. In a way it liberated all of us… and it was the actors who took us there.

John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus pushed boundaries with its graphic nudity and explicit sexuality. Did you feel encouraged to show and do more based on the success of that film?
Shortbus was setting out to do something different. I love Shortbus, but Shortbus was trying to integrate narrative into explicit sexuality. What I’m trying to do is tell a story which includes sex… and that’s kind of different. If you look at the history of European cinema there is not a fear of the naked body. The naked body is not this foreign object that needs to be put into the dark. And that’s something you can see in films like Last Tango in Paris and Taxi zum Klo.

Tags: film