Internationally renowned as a filmmaker, writer and composer, Sally Potter has always been a provocateur: as a feminist filmmaker and performer, a leading light of the BFI Production Board generation, a British filmmaker Oscar-nominated for a low-budget costume drama, and a pioneer of digital cinema. Drawing on exclusive access to archival materials and in-depth interviews with Britain’s most independent director, The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love opens up vivid historical, political, and cultural vistas to give the first full account of this extraordinary career.
“It seems only fitting that Sally Potter’s interactive digital archive is called SP-ARK. Fire is at the heart of her work, both visually and metaphysically. Onscreen, it signals the intensity of artistic labour that her films record, metaphorising both the ‘spark’ of inspiration and the energy of work. Fire’s meaning alters to trace the progress of empire in Orlando, from the burning torches that herald Elizabeth I to the burning trenches that mark Orlando’s passage into the reign of Elizabeth II. Fire burns on ice in the reign of King James, as Orlando falls in love. Fire makes steam in the hammam in Khiva. It burns in the hearths of the Great House in contrast to the damp green of the Victorian era as Orlando tends to Shelmerdine’s ankle. In early drafts of the screenplay, fire burnt the house to the ground as Orlando’s class rage turned her into the first Mrs. Rochester. In the finished film, torches burn in the Khan’s courtyard just before war breaks out, but fire is never simply associated with danger or madness. It marks moments of transformation. When fire meets ice, it is an elemental reflection of Orlando’s divided self. Flames burn on water at the opening of The Man Who Cried. They are like a screen of ‘reverie’ in which Suzie sees her memories unfolding.”
from The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love by Sophie Mayer (Wallflower Press, 2009)
More about Sally Potter
Sally Potter’s work has, from the early 1970’s, embraced dance, performance, theatre, music and film. Since her first cult hit with Thriller (1979), Potter has concentrated on film and directed her first feature, The Gold Diggers, starring Julie Christie, in 1983. Potter then made a short, The London Story, and several documentaries before the internationally acclaimed and multi-award winning Orlando, starring Tilda Swinton. This was followed by The Tango Lesson (1996) and The Man Who Cried (2000), starring Christina Ricci, Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett and John Turturro. In 2004 Potter made Yes, starring Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian, and Sam Neill. Potter then directed Carmen for English National Opera in Autumn 2007. Potter’s new film, Rage, starring Judi Dench, Jude Law, Steve Buscemi, Simon Abkarian and Dianne Wiest is released in 2009.
Visit Sally’s website and blog.
Book for the forthcoming Sally Potter showcase at the
British Film Institute.