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Berlin: Ira Sachs Discusses Festival Memories, Films

New York-based writer/director Ira Sachs arrives in Berlin with the Sundance-preemed “Little Men,” which he describes as “a film about two boys who become best friends as their parents become best enemies.” Following “Forty Shades of Blue” (2005), the Teddy-winning “Keep the Lights On” (2012) and “Love Is Strange” (2014), it’s his fourth Panorama drama and his fifth trip to the fest, including a 2010 visit with his documentary short, “Last Address.” While Sachs sheepishly admits to not knowing the city as well as he should, he offers a few tips from his years spent rushing through it.

Eat and greet
“Little Men” used to be called “Thank You for Being Honest,” so I’m gonna be honest: I’m not the one to ask. I’m always the guy who’s woken up late, trying to get to a screening and grabbing a sandwich or a bowl of onion soup in a mall. (I consider the entire Potsdamer Platz a mall). But there’s a (salon) there, Kaisersaal, where Wieland Speck has (the Berlinale Lunch Club) for the directors of Panorama, and it’s often the only legitimate meal I have in Berlin. Also, a filmmaker I know, Karim Ainouz, had a dinner party at the best restaurant, Richard, which specializes in wine and cheese. I loved their cheese platter.

The Berlinale experience
At (the Kaisersaal) there’s this royal room with high windows and paintings — it feels like the only bit of old Germany that wasn’t bombed or bulldozed in that area. It’s a multicourse meal, usually soup and chicken or fish with a sauce on it, traditional Continental food. The great part is you’re often sitting across from some really fascinating director from Cairo or Taiwan — often there’s a language problem — and trying to figure out how to connect to other artists. To be a part of that dialogue and gain a real understanding of world cinema as a movement is super important as I work on my own films. I’m from Memphis, Tenn., and a total Europhile, so I feel like a bumpkin on some level, but also feel I’m in my element.

Berlin 2016 Schedule
I’ll fly in, see my sales agent Charlotte Mickie at Mongrel, and Gordon Spragg at Wolf, who’ll help me orient myself, and then we’ll have our first screening on Feb. 13 at the Zoo Palast, with two of my producers, Lucas Joaquin and Christos Konstantakopoulos, my co-writer Mauricio Zacharias and my composer Dickon Hinchliffe. We’ll probably have a meal and then a party and we’ll repeat and repeat (laughs), then a press day. I’m staying three or four extra days with my husband, (artist) Boris Torres, in neighborhood where my friends live. I hope to discover Berlin, finally, not just the Berlinale.

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