Last Address: Ira Sach's New York AIDS Tribute
By Jessanne Collins
New York filmmaker Ira Sachs may be best known for intelligent indie features like The Delta and Married Life, with Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson. But, having moved to New York City from Memphis, Tenn., in the mid-'80s, he has known his share of downtown New York artists and performance artists who have died from AIDS. Many of these folks -- such as Charles Ludlam, Ron Vawter, Vito Russo, and Arthur Russell -- have been dead for 20 years or more now, their brilliant, transgressive work increasingly known to fewer and fewer. Sachs has recaptured their ghostly collective presence in New York in Last Address, a beautiful, meditative short film of the exteriors of the very last places they lived in New York City. The power of the film comes from the fact that Sachs didn't try to seal out the present-day city, with all its booming, hurried noise, its urgent sense of the present plowing over the past, creating a palimpsest of creativity and memory. By the end of the film -- which Sachs presented last Friday night as part of a special exhibition of ACT UP-era art running through October 23 at White Columns in the Village -- you had a palpable sense of all the fierce, genderfucking angels that hover just above our heads as we go about our frantic daily lives in a city that -- at least in some circles -- is no longer tyrannized by AIDS.