British filmmaker Andrew Haigh’s Weekend has become one of the indie breakouts of 2011. Why that’s especially noteworthy is that it happens to be a romance between two men—and one that doesn’t shy away from the ins and outs of gay sex. As evidenced in his debut film, Greek Pete (2009), Haigh isn’t timid about such graphic depictions—but he’s also more interested in mind and soul than body, constantly negotiating between them to create something transcendent. Read more from Michael Koresky on the film here, and, below, read Eric Hynes’s interview with Haigh, who worked for years as an editor in the film industry (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Hannibal Rising) before striking out to make his own personal cinema.
RS: It’s always a challenge to make a film plays as both universal and singular, but with Weekend you’ve taken on the additional challenge of making a film that speaks to both a general and a gay audience. How did you manage that balance?
AH: The more you focus tightly on someone, in a weird way the bigger they become—their experience can resonate wider. That was the key for me—to be true to these two characters, and to what they meant to each other, and just hope that it becomes something more universal instead of trying to automatically make it so. And when you deal with issues of intimacy, identity, and connection—these are universal struggles, aren’t they?
RS: Did you feel any pressure to make certain that the film worked for gay audiences? That it wasn’t watered down?
AH: I did feel pressure about that. When I was writing there were funders that thought I should make it less explicit, or less gay. But I just thought I would make it as honestly as I could, to be as honest as I could about how these characters would act. It’s obviously about two gay people—I’m not embarrassed by that, I’m not pretending it’s not about that. I think any audience, straight or gay, is going to respect that frankness more than me watering something down or not. But I’m also not trying to represent the whole gay community in this film. I’m not saying all gay people meet in nightclubs and take drugs. It’s about these two people. I’m not making a commercial for how good gay people are. I’m just trying to be real to some degree, and hope other people see that and feel that. Continue reading.