65. Internationales Film festival Mannheim-Heidelberg


To keep the light

Abbie has her hands full - a lighthouse needs to be tended, the light polished, the rust removed from the railings, logs kept, chicken fed, husband fed, dishes cleaned. If a woman's work is never done, just imagine what the lighthouse keepers' wife's day might be like. And if you harbour any romanticism about living on a lonely island off the coast of Maine - the thing that shocked me most in this stark historical movie, set in 1876, is that even there, where it really should be just you and the elements, you always have neighbours popping in to see how you are doing.

And how is Abbie doing? She doesn't like to give too much away, keeps her answers to the villagers' probing questions short and dry. Her husband is unwell, others are after his job, she is coping just fine. But is she? And why did the lights go on just a little bit too late the day our story commences?

Just like Abbie I wouldnot want to give too much away. As a viewer I grew to admire her self-reliance and sobriety and worry that I might betray her by blabbering about her life.

In her first feature film director/producer/writer/main actress Erica Fae has achieved a purity of style, a remarkable sense of place and time, that seems long matured and yet the beginning of something new and exciting.


To Keep the Light
Writer/Director: Erica Fae
Producers: Jane Applegate, Erica Fae
Editor: Sabine Hoffman
Director of Photography: Wes Cardino
Composer: Caroline Shaw
Sound Sesign: Ryan Billia
Production Designer: Oliver Shuster
Costume Designer: Alixandra Gage Englund

Abbie: Erica Fae
Brackett: David Patrick Kelly
Johan: AnttiReini

Unsurprisingly, she has experience as actress in film and television and the theatre, where she also worked as a director.

She is not only trained in her own disciplines, but seems also to have a talent for collaboration, so much good work is featured in her first feature. I find production designer Oliver Shuster's work brilliant, with a décor of simple beauty that always feels lived in but not overstuffed. It can not be easy in an historical movie to give markers for time but not get in the way of the story, but it has been achieved here. Director of Photography Wes Cardino's stunning images of sea and stones are greatly enhanced by Ryan Billia's sound design, every time you sit back to relax and enjoy the picture, the sound of a wave crashing catches you unawares and warns you not to get too comfortable in this film.

To Keep the Light is based on historical research, but in its essence is very modern - timely, actually. In this new world where everything might change so that everything can stay the same we can expect a return to old rules of who can do which job, with men being preternaturally predisposed to most of them.

Let To Keep the Light be a warning light for these times, but also enjoy the revelation of a new directing talent!

Alexandra Pütter



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