Filmmaker Spotlight:
‘Sunset’ filmmakers Kate Ennis and Gary Jaffe

Leading up to the 28th Washington Jewish Film Festival, we asked our filmmakers a few questions about their featured films.
In this edition, Directors Kate Ennis and Gary Jaffe discuss Sunset.

What inspired you to tell the story of your subject or the story depicted in your film?

I’d been trying to capture the feeling of this tough goodbye from fall of 2010, the kind where we just couldn’t do it, kiss and goodbye and kiss and goodbye, so on and so forth, till the clock ran out. Four years later, I read Allan Bérubé’s terrific book Coming Out Under Fire, which, along with George Chauncey’s seminal work Gay New York, gave me the framework for the story: a debate between lovers about whether or not to serve in the days following Pearl Harbor, with the sun going down and the clock running out.


Directors Kate Ennis and Gary Jaffe

What was a particular obstacle you faced while making this film? 

We filmed over two days but needed to keep the light a consistent sunset-y glow, so our lighting team did wonderful work making that happen. Additionally, since the film takes place in one room, my co-director Katie Ennis had to come up with brilliant ways to keep the room interesting for fifteen minutes.


What do you want audiences to walk away with after screening your film?

I want people to be thinking about love and the choices we make because of it. Love of self, love of country, love for another. How these loves intertwine in messy ways, creating such complications… but also solutions. Love builds bridges across oceans.


Why do you think Washington, DC is a valuable location to screen your film?

Oh boy. A film about “Heartland” values (patriotism, love of country/religion) clashing with “Coast” values (pride in identity, love of self) while the Universal Value of Love complicates the whole picture? I want every member of Congress to come to the screening, even the ones I detest.


Still from ‘Sunset’

What films or filmmakers have been the most influential to you?

It’s funny, we actually saw Merchant & Ivory’s exquisite “Maurice” after we made “Sunset,” but watching it felt like this movie is everything I was dreaming of for my own so I consider it retroactive inspiration. Plus, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory were romantic partners and producing partners, which is definitely my fiancé/producer Skylar Landsee and my dream. #relationshipgoals


Why are Jewish-interest films important today?

 Same reason Jewish stories have always been important. As Jewish storytellers, religious or not, cultural or not, we are always wrestling contradictory ideas and conflicting feelings. We sit inside cultures and outside of them. We spend countless neurotic hours unraveling the giant tangle of life just to find the tiny knot at its core. We write sad Christmas songs with uplifting melodies. We cry, tell a joke, laugh, then cry again, rinse repeat. All this is baked into our values, our way of thought, our cultural inheritance. It’s what makes our stories… good!

Watch Sunset during the 28th Washington Jewish Film Festival.

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