To Keep the Light
U.S., 2015, 88 min.
In 1876 Maine, Abbie (writer-director Erica Fae) tends the lighthouse on a remote island for her ailing husband. When a mysterious stranger washes up on shore, secrets buried in deep waters come to light, and Abbie is forced to navigate an unforgiving new world and reckon with both her past and her future. Inspired by the true stories of women lighthouse keepers, “To Keep the Light” — which won the 2016 SLIFF New Filmmakers Forum Emerging Director Award — uses the composite character of Abbie to give voice to their largely unknown experience. Working in isolation and under extreme conditions, these women — who inherited their jobs from infirm or deceased husbands or fathers — were trailblazers, embodying feminism long before the word existed and far from the urban, intellectual circles that spawned the women's rights movement. Nuanced and true to her times, Abbie is a female lead rarely depicted on screen: strong and stoic, sensual but not sexualized. Shot on an island off the coast of northern Maine, “To Keep the Light” revealingly illuminates the tumultuous inner life of a woman who is, literally and figuratively, at the edge of society.