Sally Potter is exceptional among directors in having made both successful commercial features and experimental films. Besides filmmaking, her career incorporates dance, choreography, music and performance art; these elements are interwoven in her films, all of which - while very different from each other - confront issues around performance, gender and genre and appeal to the significance of musicality and movement in a medium which is in essence non-verbal.
On the surface a satire on fashion, Rage is an indictment of the very market logic that forces stars to parade themselves on the red carpet in Berlin’s inevitable snow. It’s a reclamation of beauty from the bankers, and central to its ravishing struggle is Jude Law as Minx, a Russian-American supermodel. Minx refers to herself in the third person as “she” but the film leaves open the question of how Minx understands this pronoun for herself.
While not as centrally queer as Orlando, Rage is deeply concerned with that queerest of themes: what we say of ourselves and what (secretly) we cannot say but long to. Its compassion is amplified by its stunningly simple visual style; shot in tiny photographers’ studios using greenscreen, the film is also a message to budding filmmakers who think their projects are unlikely to get funding. Potter, a friend of Derek Jarman’s, is one of the few filmmakers committed to his mission of: make things with what you have.
In a brilliant article discussing the role that other media play within film ("The Film Stilled", Camera Obscura 24, September 1990), Raymond Bellour recently suggested that these singular moments of eruption or invasion can point in two quite contrary directions. On the one hand, there are moments of video in film that point backwards, regressively, to a lost, even archaic past. Here, video becomes a sad, deathly emblem of nostalgia in the lives of people who are finding it hard to get themselves together. This occurs in the current release Falling Down, where the relentless camera movement into Michael Douglas' family video in the final shot expresses the complete disintegration of his identity. But, in a completely different spirit, video moments can point forward to utopian, transcendent, sometimes mystical states and experiences. Bellour gives this trend in cinema the curious name of 'angelism' - and what's most curious about it is that he coined the word before seeing Sally Potter's Orlando, where, in its final vision, video texture fills the screen as a child's video camera [that of Orlando's daughter] discovers an angel hovering in the sky, singing.
On the day that Rage, Sally Potter's new film, embarks on its 'multiplatform, interactive' release-week (today begin the mobile phone episodes), Film Studies For Free (a big Potter fan of old) is delighted to premiere its own selection of choice, openly accessible, scholarly links to Potter resources:
- Kathleen Barbara, 'Masquerade: The Female Body in Post-Modern Films', MP: An Online Feminist Journal, Vol. 1, Issue 1, December 21, 2004
- Eileen Barrett, 'Decamping Sally Potter's Orlando', from Re: Reading, Re: Writing, Re: Teaching Virginia Woolf conference papers 1994 (Pace University Press, 1995)
- BFI, Sally Potter Filmography
- Tara Brabazon and Vanessa Evangelista, 'Something Queer is Going on Here: A Binary Outlaw's Tour Through Orlando', Outskirts, Vol. 1, May 1996
- Rose Capp, 'Crocodile Tears: Sally Potter's The Man Who Cried', Senses of Cinema, May 2001
- Joan Copjec, 'Thriller: An Intrigue of Identification', Ciné-tracts. 3:3 (Autumn 1980), 33-38 (scroll down)
- David Ehrenstein, 'Out of the Wilderness: An Interview with Sally Potter,' Film Quarterly 47:1 (Autumn 1993), 2-7
- Angelica Fenner, 'Women refocusing [review of Women Filmmakers Refocusing. Jacqueline Levitin, Judith Plessis, Valerie Raoul, eds. New York: Routledge, 2003]', Jump Cut 49, 2007
- Daniel Garrett, 'Dreaming Wide Awake', Offscreen. 9:9 (September 2005)
- Zoë Heyn-Jones, 'Eye and Brain, Torn Asunder: Reading Ideology in Sally Potter’s Orlando', Synoptique 11, March 12, 2008
- Anne Jerslev, 'Sally Potter's "ecrands seconds": a reading of Sally Potter's Work', Nordicom Review, 2, 2000, pp. 275-290
- Annette Kuhn, 'Sally Potter', Screenonline
- Sophie Mayer, 'John Berger on Sally Potter', Vertigo Magazine, No.13, November 2007 See HERE for info about Mayer's book on Potter for Wallflower Press
- Michael Mazière, David Curtis and Steven Bal, 'Artists' Bibliographies: Sally Potter', studycollection.org.uk
- Kristi McKim, '“A State of Loving Detachment": Sally Potter’s Impassioned and Intellectual Cinema', Senses of Cinema, 2006
- Howie Movshovitz, 'Saying "Yes" in iambic pentameter', Podcast for NPR, June 26, 2005
- Jean Oppenheimer, 'Production Slate: Yes - A Cross-Cultural Romance', American Cinematographer Online, July 2005
- Sally Potter's Comprehensive, Chronological CV
- Sally Potter's 'Where Have All the Auteurs Gone?' Masterclass transcript excerpt
- Sally Potter's 'Rage' Pressbook
- Sally Potter: Selected Academic Bibliography
- Sally Potter's website
- Sally Potter's blog
- SP-ARK (web-based open source educational project based on Potter's multi-media archive) (more info HERE, HERE, and HERE)
- Sally Potter, 'Notes on the Adaptation of the Book Orlando', Virginia Woolf Seminar
- Timotheos Roussos, 'An off-beat adaptation: Orlando', Philament: An Online Journal of the Arts and Culture, Issue 3, 2004
- Screenonline Sally Potter pages
- Joel Whitney, 'Yes: An interview with director Sally Potter', Guernica, October 2005