Sally Potter

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Sally Potter, Berlinale 2017

Charlotte Sally Potter , OBE (born September 19, 1949 in London , England ) is a British director and film book writer who was initially also active as a singer in the Feminist Improvising Group and in Lindsay Cooper's cycle Oh Moscow . In 2012 she was honored with The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire ( Order of the British Empire for short ) for her contributions to the film.

life and career

Potter was born in London. Her mother was a music teacher, her father an interior designer and writer. The younger brother Nic Potter became a musician. At the age of fourteen she began making amateur films in 8 mm format . When she was 16, she left school to make films. She earned her living doing temporary jobs and picture research for the BBC . She joined the London Film-Makers Co-op and made experimental short films such as Jerk (1969) and Play (1970). She trained as a dancer and choreographer at the London School of Contemporary Dance , created films and dance performances such as Combines (1972) and founded the Limited Dance Company with Jacky Lansley. Potter became an excellent performance artist and theater director with shows like Mounting , Death and the Girl (play) and Berlin . In addition, she was a member of various music bands such as the Feminist Improvising Group and The Film Music Orchestra as a lyricist and singer.
She worked as a songwriter with composer Lindsay Cooper on the song cycle Oh Moscow , which was performed and published commercially throughout Europe, Russia and North America in the late 1980s.

Back at film, Potter landed a hit at international festivals with her short film Thriller (1979). The playful crime thriller, a classic of feminist films, is based on the fact that the voice of the heroine of La Bohème Mimi herself investigates her death. She shot her first feature film The Gold Diggers (1983), another important film of feminist cinema of the early 80s in a radical and experimental narrative structure with Julie Christie as the actress, followed by another short film The London Story (1986), a documentary series for Channel 4 Tears , Laughter , Fear and Rage (1986) and I am an Ox , I am a Horse , I am a Man , I am a Woman (1988), a film about women in Soviet cinema.

In 1992, Sally directed the drama Orlando, based on the novel by Virginia Woolf , wrote the screenplay and was instrumental in the composition of the film music. She dedicated the script to her grandmother, who died in 1989, the actress Beatrice Quenneell (1897–1989) and the director Michael Powell . Orlando is a story of the search for love and an ironic dance of traveling through four centuries of English history with contemporary references to gender and identity, first as a man and then as a woman. Potter received greater appreciation for writing and directing the internationally successful film with Tilda Swinton in the title role. In addition to two Oscar nominations, Orlando has won more than 25 international awards, including the European Film Prize Felix , awarded by the European Film Academy for the best young European film of 1993, as well as first prizes in St. Petersburg, Thessaloniki and other European festivals.

The impetus for the autobiographical film Tango Lesson (1997), in which she herself the female lead role opposite the renowned tango dancer Pablo Veron plays Sally Potter came while writing the script for Rage getting to know the Argentine tango from the desire itself to dance. Potter also wrote the score for her film The Tango Lesson , for which she sang "I Am You" in the closing scene.

The film drama In Stormy Times (The Man Who Cried) with Johnny Depp , Christina Ricci , Cate Blanchett and John Turturro premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 and was nominated for the Golden Lion .

This was followed by the drama Yes (2004) with Simon Abkarian , Joan Allen and Sam Neill , which was made on a small budget in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 . It is considered Potter's return to the experimental methods of filmmaking. The script is written in verse and tells a passionate love story that takes the viewer on a poetic journey through different worldviews, cultures and countries.

Rage (2009), starring Judi Dench , Steve Buscemi , Lily Cole and Jude Law, was the first film to premiere on cell phones worldwide. It was in the competition at the Berlinale 2009 and was nominated for a WEBBY for Best Drama in 2010. Her most recent musical works as producer and co-composer with Fred Frith are the soundtracks for Yes and Rage .

In 2007, Sally Potter staged Carmen by Georges Bizet with Alice Coote at the English National Opera in London Coliseum , continuing its cooperation with Pablo Veron.

Potter's seventh feature film Ginger & Rosa (2012), starring Elle Fanning and Alice Englert , was produced by Christoper Sheppard and Andrew Lityin. The film drama about a friendship between two girls who openly rebel against their parents and a coming-of-age film shows the atmosphere in London in the early 1960s during the Cold War .

For The Party , Potter received an invitation to the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in 2017 . The film has been touted as "a comedy wrapped in tragedy" and stars Patricia Clarkson , Bruno Ganz , Cherry Jones , Emily Mortimer , Cillian Murphy , Kristin Scott Thomas and Timothy Spall .


  • 1969: Jerk (short film actress)
  • 1970: Hors d'oeuvres
  • 1970: Black & White
  • 1970: Play
  • 1972: Combines
  • 1979: Thriller (short film director)
  • 1983: The Gold Diggers (director, script, editor)
  • 1986: Tears, Laughter, Fears and Rage, (TV series - director)
  • 1987: The London Story, short film (director, book)
  • 1988: I am an Ox, I am a Horse, I am a Man, I am a Woman, documentary
  • 1992: Orlando (direction, book, music)
  • 1997: Tango Fever ( The Tango Lesson , actress, director, book, music)
  • 2000: In Stormy Times ( The Man Who Cried , Director, Book)
  • 2004: Yes (direction, book, music)
  • 2009: Rage ( New York Fashion Murder , direction, book)
  • 2013: Ginger & Rosa (direction, book)
  • 2017: The Party (Director, Book)
  • 2020: Ways of Life - The Roads Not Taken ( The Roads Not Taken , direction, script, editing, music)

Secondary literature

  • Catherine Fowler: Sally Potter. University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago 2008. ISBN 0-25207576-5
  • Sophie Mayer: The Cinema of Sally Potter. A Politics of Love. Wallflower Press, London, New York 2009. ISBN 1-905674-67-8 .

Web links

Commons : Sally Potter  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  2. Thriller (short film)
  3. ^ Synopsis Gold Diggers
  4. Screenplay Orlando (film)
  5. Hollywoodtalk: Orlando finds his true self, a Woolfian film escapade
  6. ^ Synopsis Orlando
  7. Film info Yes
  8. ^ Film review by Ginger & Rosa
  9. Barraclough, Leo: Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Kristin Scott Thomas to Star in Sally Potter's 'The Party' at, June 15, 2016 (accessed December 16, 2016).