VENGEANCE IS MINE
Q&A with Director Michael Roemer
Moderated by Filmmaker Ira Sachs
Friday, May 27
Michael Roemer was born in Berlin in 1928, and escaped to the UK via Kindertransport in 1939. After his time at a British school for refugee children, he arrived in America to attend Harvard in 1945.
Roemer’s narrative feature debut, NOTHING BUT A MAN (1964), starring a soon-to-be eminent cast (Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln), received a standing ovation at the New York Film Festival and won three awards at the Venice Film Festival, but it had little visibility in the U.S. until its re-release at Film Forum in 1993. The Washington Post called it "one of the most sensitive films about Black life ever made in this country." It was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress and is today championed as a daring portrait of Black life during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and "a timeless masterpiece" (Melissa Lyde, Alfreda's Cinema).
Roemer's follow-up, his understated comedy THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY (1969), was shelved by the director himself when no one laughed at the preview, and not released for another 20 years, when it became a sensation at the New York Film Festival and other international festivals. Since HARRY, Roemer has directed the documentary DYING (1976), and the narrative films PILGRIM, FAREWELL (1982) and VENGEANCE IS MINE (1983). From the early 1970s until his recent retirement, Roemer taught at Yale, and has continued to write screenplays, collected in the four volume collection Film Stories, as well as essays, notably Shocked But Connected: Notes of Laughter. Roemer lives in Vermont.
Ira Sachs is a director whose work includes the features FRANKIE, LITTLE MEN, LOVE IS STRANGE, KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, and FORTY SHADES OF BLUE.