When Whit Stillman walks out in front of an eager audience at the 2011 Lake Placid Film Forum, it’s hard to imagine him as a denizen of late 70s and early 80s nightclubs where disco music’s sensual synth sounds, funky rhythm guitars and operatic voices resound. But disco wasn’t just bell bottoms and feathered hair, any more than filmmakers are all short and bespectacled. Whit Stillman is dynamic, a man of the world, Harvard educated and full of sharp humor that comes a mile a minute. He introduces a preview for his upcoming film, “Damsels in Distress” and then it’s into “The Last Days of Disco,” a story as much about coming of age after college and struggling relationships than it is about dancing under the disco ball.
After the film, it’s late at night. Whit has been out to dinner with Film Forum artistic director Kathleen Carroll and photographer Nathan Farb. As the credits roll for “Disco,” Whit comes down to share some stories on what it was like to make the picture, and the fall of an empire – the days when disco died, and with it, the youth of the characters the film adroitly portrays.