Forty Shades of Blue. 2005. USA. Directed by Ira Sachs. Courtesy Charlie Guidance Productions

This mid-career retrospective of New York–based filmmaker Ira Sachs showcases his seven feature films and five shorts. Sachs’s intimate work—ranging from experimental film to dramas and comedies—looks at relationships, love, sexuality, gay identity, family life, social issues, and city lifestyles with subtlety and nuance, depicting people’s day-to-day struggles with isolation, individuality, and learning how to communicate in wider circles.

The series opens and closes with a pair of Sachs’s Sundance entries. Forty Shades of Blue, which won the festival’s 2005 U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, is the emotionally gripping story of an aging Memphis record producer, hard drinker, and cad and his complicated relationships with his Russian girlfriend and adult stepson Michael. His most recent film, Little Men (a line from which inspired the title of this series), depicts how the lives of two Brooklyn families are impacted when one inherits a brownstone containing a storefront rented by the other. Their two sons become fast friends, but when tensions erupt among the adults over a rent hike, the boys’ friendship also suffers. Writer Bilge Ebiri, in his review of Little Men, captured the essential qualities of Sachs’s filmmaking: “If Martin Scorsese was the quintessential auteur of New York in the 1970s and ’80s…and Spike Lee that of New York in the late ’80s and ’90s…then Ira Sachs is gradually becoming the quintessential auteur of today’s New York—the one of class inequality, and of relationships transformed by the changing city around them.”

All screening notes are excerpted from irasachsfilms.com.

Organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator; with Sean Egan, Producer, Film Exhibitions and Projects; and Clay Farland, Department Assistant, Department of Film.

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