Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spotlight on: Sally Potter

Theatrical Poster for Potter's autobiographical film The Tango Lesson (1997)
Sally Potter could be the single most important contemporary filmmaker, yes more important than Mary Harron, yes more important than Jane Campion. Though not particularly prolific, her films are intensely philosophical and sexually provocative. She has a new film out in both Toronto as well as this years New York Film Festival slate called Ginger and Rosa (2012), which will probably be in line with a sub-genre she coined titled 'Naked Cinema' back in 2009 with the release of Rage.
Potter is a thinker's filmmaker, her most famous work to date being the incomparable story of an androgynous time-traveling rogue who also has the ability to change genders and charm beautiful aristocrats with his/her poetic talents. It was called Orlando (1992) and it made Tilda Swinton's career. The creative nature of the sexual content made me see cinematic sensuality in a completely different meditative light. It made me think about film on the same par as visual art for the first time, and encouraged me to appreciate aesthetic as a key aspect of the final product. 
Tilda Swinton as the titular character in Orlando (1992) A deeply haunting and unforgettable performance.
What Sally Potter is able to illustrate within the frame is fundamentally feminine. To be clear, I do not mean she is feminist because her work for the most part is devoid of a political ideology. What her first priority seems to be is to articulate human emotion, yearning, and desire visually rather than verbally, which is one of the fundamentals of film language. 
Still from her new film Ginger and Rosa (2012)
Why I say that she is perhaps the most important female filmmaker is because of her mastering of the art of the female gaze. Her approach towards sexuality on film is inherently a feminine approach. She is an auteur in that she has a very unique style and sensibility, especially when it comes to anything intimate. Therefore she is a master of her craft, whether it be cinema, philosophy, aesthetic, or sexual pastiche. And I always get titillated when a new film of hers is released. If you're in New York, I highly recommend buying a ticket to Ginger and Rosa (2012), it's the most intriguing film in the whole slate.

Below, some video on her films: 

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