WBUR

Ira Glass Kicks Off Boston Film Fest

Ira Glass on stage at the Somerville Theatre with WBUR's Meghna Chakrabarti on Wednesday night. (Lisa Tobin/WBUR)

The host of “This American Life” showed up at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square last night for a special screening of “Sleepwalk With Me,” the opening night film at the Independent Film Festival of Boston. Glass co-wrote the film with its star and his close friend, comedian Mike Birbiglia, a frequent contributor to TAL and a native of Shrewsbury.

The whole event was a bit of a public radio dreamland: Glass introduced the film, WBUR presented it, Marc Maron made a guest appearance in the film (as Marc Moharon), so did Glass (a brief cameo as a wedding photographer), and avid listeners of TAL were rewarded by recognizing many of Birbiglia’s stories from TAL wrapped together inside the film, which is basically a slightly fictionalized retelling of things that actually happened to him — namely his struggles with commitment and sleepwalking, both of which culminate during a horrifying but hilarious night at the now infamous-only-in-public-radio La Quinta Inn.

After the screening, Glass sat down on stage for a Q&A with Meghna Chakrabarti, host of WBUR’s Radio Boston. They talked about his somewhat-reluctant entrance into film (Birbiglia refused to take no for an answer), and why sleepwalking made for good cinema.

“I myself am somebody who despises dream sequences in movies and TV shows,” Glass said. “I don’t understand why the FCC goes after dirty words, I feel like if I were head of the FCC, I would ban dream sequences. I always feel like they are the cheapest narrative move ever.”

But the sleepwalking stories actually happened to Birbiglia, and so offered opportunities not just for big, hilarious, cinematic scenes, but also to explore his subconscious in interesting ways. He doesn’t want to get married, and while he hasn’t figured that out yet, his dreams have. “There’s a lot of stories we do on the radio show that are about people who won’t face the truth about their situation,” Glass said. “And it’s nice that it has such a literal manifestation, that he’s acting it out in a way that you can perform it onscreen, it isn’t just that we have to infer that he’s in denial about his situation.”

Chakrabarti then opened it up for the audience to ask Glass their questions — some about the film, others about TAL. Above is audio of the full conversation. Sometimes you can’t hear the question being asked, but Glass does a good job of restating it, so it shouldn’t be too confusing.

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