You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ira Sachs

10 directors to watch

“I’m interested in understanding the conflicts and complexities of identity,” says Ira Sachs, “and how a person can play many different roles in their life at the same time.”

Whether it’s a gender-bending performer in his acclaimed short “Lady,” a half-Vietnamese, half-black hustler in his debut feature “The Delta,” or a Russian woman on the arm of a powerful man in his latest “Forty Shades of Blue,” Sachs says, “I want to know how these identities shift based on desire and experience.”

Steeped in literary theory at Yale and the racial politics of his Memphis hometown, Sachs has a unique identity himself, probably one of Tennessee’s only gay Jewish auteurs. His films mix an intimate, elegant naturalism with a socially charged atmosphere. And his influences on “Forty Shades of Blue,” he says, include British social realist Ken Loach, New Wave cinematographer Raoul Coutard and French maverick Maurice Pialat.

Also referencing films such as Bunuel’s “Belle de Jour” and Satyajit Ray’s “Charulata,” the movie focuses on a woman’s awakening to greater love. “The film was inspired by my relationship with my father’s girlfriends,” explains Sachs. “These were women from very different backgrounds than me, who would reveal themselves over time in ways that I would grow to love.”

The movie was also generated by Sachs’ impressions of Memphis. “I have an intimacy with that city that is just deeper than any other place,” he says. Though he left the music capital nearly 20 years ago (for New York, where he worked as an assistant to the director on “Longtime Companion”), Sachs returned to his roots to shoot “The Delta,” a dreamy, evocative drama that competed in Sundance’s ’97 competition.

Shot with non-professional actors on a shoestring budget, “The Delta” seems amateurish compared with the $3 million budget and talent he employed for “Forty Shades of Blue.” His cast included Rip Torn, Russian thesp Dina Korzun, Darren Burrows and Danish thesp Paprika Steen (“The Celebration”).

Sachs’ longtime producer Margot Bridger notes, “He’s become more confident.” And though working with Torn was filled with “constant challenging, constant pushing,” Bridger recalls, “it never got Ira off his rocker. He was completely able to absorb it.”

Sachs is already prepared to tackle his third feature, “Marriage.” “It’s about a married middle-aged man who falls in love with another woman,” Sachs says. “But he’s so gentle that he can’t humiliate or hurt his wife, so he decides to kill her instead.”

More Scene

  • 'Cobra Kai' premiere

    ‘Cobra Kai’: Why Ralph Macchio Revisited 'Karate Kid' Character After 30 Years

    “I’m interested in understanding the conflicts and complexities of identity,” says Ira Sachs, “and how a person can play many different roles in their life at the same time.” Whether it’s a gender-bending performer in his acclaimed short “Lady,” a half-Vietnamese, half-black hustler in his debut feature “The Delta,” or a Russian woman on the […]

  • Jennifer LopezTime 100 Gala - Red

    Time 100 Gala: J. Lo 'Feels Naked,' Shawn Mendes Performs, Kesha Hugs Parkland Survivors

    “I’m interested in understanding the conflicts and complexities of identity,” says Ira Sachs, “and how a person can play many different roles in their life at the same time.” Whether it’s a gender-bending performer in his acclaimed short “Lady,” a half-Vietnamese, half-black hustler in his debut feature “The Delta,” or a Russian woman on the […]

  • Robert Downey Jr'Avengers: Infinity War' film

    'Avengers: Infinity War' Premiere Draws Largest Contingent of Marvel Superheroes

    “I’m interested in understanding the conflicts and complexities of identity,” says Ira Sachs, “and how a person can play many different roles in their life at the same time.” Whether it’s a gender-bending performer in his acclaimed short “Lady,” a half-Vietnamese, half-black hustler in his debut feature “The Delta,” or a Russian woman on the […]

  • 'The Week Of' film premiere

    'The Week Of' Director Talks Reuniting With Adam Sandler After 'SNL'

    “I’m interested in understanding the conflicts and complexities of identity,” says Ira Sachs, “and how a person can play many different roles in their life at the same time.” Whether it’s a gender-bending performer in his acclaimed short “Lady,” a half-Vietnamese, half-black hustler in his debut feature “The Delta,” or a Russian woman on the […]

  • Beautycon Festival

    Laverne Cox, Paris Hilton Promote Self-Love at Beautycon NYC

    “I’m interested in understanding the conflicts and complexities of identity,” says Ira Sachs, “and how a person can play many different roles in their life at the same time.” Whether it’s a gender-bending performer in his acclaimed short “Lady,” a half-Vietnamese, half-black hustler in his debut feature “The Delta,” or a Russian woman on the […]

  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

    The Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Baby Boy

    “I’m interested in understanding the conflicts and complexities of identity,” says Ira Sachs, “and how a person can play many different roles in their life at the same time.” Whether it’s a gender-bending performer in his acclaimed short “Lady,” a half-Vietnamese, half-black hustler in his debut feature “The Delta,” or a Russian woman on the […]

  • J.K. Rowling on the Future of

    J.K. Rowling on the Future of Harry Potter Stories on Stage

    “I’m interested in understanding the conflicts and complexities of identity,” says Ira Sachs, “and how a person can play many different roles in their life at the same time.” Whether it’s a gender-bending performer in his acclaimed short “Lady,” a half-Vietnamese, half-black hustler in his debut feature “The Delta,” or a Russian woman on the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content