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True/False Conversations: See the world through Ralph Arlyck's eyes in 'I Like It Here'

Filmmaker Ralph Arlyck holds a camera.
Courtesy of Ralph Arlyck
Ralph Arlyck will present his newest film at the True/False Film Fest taking place February 29 - March 3.

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here.

Ralph Arlyck has been making movies since the 1980s. His most recent film, "I Like It Here," captures the importance of shouting from the rooftops, “I was here!” Through the lens of his neighbors, colleagues, friends, children and grandchildren he illustrates what it means to have lived life to the fullest, all while knowing your time is coming to an end.

KBIA’s Gillian Koptik had the chance to speak with Arlyck to learn more about the process of making the film.

Gillian Koptik: This film is very meditative on your life and your personal experiences. Can you speak a little bit about the process of making something that is so intimate?

Ralph Arlyck: Well I think what happens is that you reveal more than you intend to. But finally, you know, even though someone else edits it I also have editorial control. So, it’s intimate but probably there are limits because I control what finally appears on the screen.

Gillian Koptik: The film to me felt a lot like a scrapbook or like reading someone’s journal with all of the archival footage in combination with this present-day footage and then also some of your own older footage, why did you choose to make it this scrapbook-esque documentary versus just focusing on the present or just focusing on your older films?

Ralph Arlyck: I don’t know I mean it never occurred to me that I would focus on my older films. I mean they only crept in kind of belatedly and in some ways unintentionally. I suppose it’s because the older films, they reflect what was eating at me at earlier stages of my life. Now this is eating at me but at other stages, I was worried about other things. So, it seemed natural to do it that way.

Gillian Koptik: What was your favorite moment from making this film whether it was captured on camera or just kind of a moment you experienced? And whose story was your favorite to kind of dive into?

Ralph Arlyck: The most surprising thing to me in terms of my friends and neighbors is Lou, my neighbor in his 90s. Because he- you know I see him just about every morning. And when we encounter each other it’s, you know, it’s just sort of boring. But put a camera in front of him and he lights up! It’s amazing! Some people are like that, you know? They’re just … they’re performers. They just bloom in front of the camera. And it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful when that happens.

Gillian Koptik: So you choose not to show yourself at all, at least not directly. We see you a couple of times in the reflection of things and stuff like that. Was this a conscious thing and something that you’ve always done as a filmmaker or was it a new experience?

Ralph Arlyck: Yeah, well, there were two new experiences. One is when I started making first person narrated films because I came out of a tradition of cinema verite* where the maker is invisible, it’s just sort of recording life as we see. And then when I started narrating the films it became a completely different animal. And then, once I did that, I decided that I really wanted to be just a voice in your ear. I didn’t want you to see me. I wanted you to see the world the way I see it, through my eyes, and just hear me talking about it.

Gillian Koptik is a student producer for KBIA. She is a senior graduating in May 2024, studying journalism and film at The University of Missouri-Columbia. When she’s not in the booth, she’s usually listening to WBEZ’s “This American Life” or rewatching “Ladybird."
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