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        Hi. Well, the film festival is over (I saw 30 movies over 10 days,
and I DIDN'T have the week off), so I have a chance now to relay Potter
news. The local media (print media, anyway) seemed to have nothing to say
about her. "The Tango Lesson" got the only standing ovation of the festival
that I saw, which in fairness was in part due to the fact that she was there
and she wrote, directed and starred in the movie, one in which she sings (!)
and dances (!). (She only sings at the very end, and she has a very quiet
voice, but she dances throughout the movie, and yes, she is an accomplished
tango dancer.)
 
        Check out www.bell.ca/filmfest for general Toronto Film Festival
news, and www.bell.ca/filmfest/news/news31.htm for specific comments
regarding both "The Tango Lesson" and "Stairway To Heaven" from Sally (you
can click on those titles within the latter). The fesival guide book has a
bit more. Regarding "Stairway To Heaven", Sally also writes (i.e. this is
the paragraph of text after the one found in the latter website):
 
        "Only the unique partnership between Michael Powell,
quintessentially British, and Emeric Pressburger, Hungarian Jew, could have
produced this droll, passionate, multi-layered jewel of a film. Scorsese
described them as "the only experimental filmmakers who managed to work
within the system", and this may explain why it is particularly
inspirational to me. Somehow they manage to make a film that pushes backthe
boundaries of cinematic language, of design (the marvellous Alfred Junge),
of subject matter, and be funny and accessible at the same time. I was
fortunate enough to meet both Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell before
they died and experience some of their passion for cinema, and for life
itself, at first hand. Michael Powell told me in private conversation that
this was his favourite of the films they produced together. For me it
remains unsurpassed in it's creative ingenuity and daring".
 
        The quote in the latter website is written by Sally as is the one
above. Regarding "The Tango Lesson", Festival Programmer Kay Armitage
writes: "A filmmaker working on a new script becomes entrances by tango and
begins to take lessons from Pablo, an Argentinian dancer living in Paris. As
the lessons proceed, they fall in love and strike a bargain - he will make
her a tango dancer, she will make him a movie star. He accomplishes his side
of the bargain when they perform in a show, but her attempt to make a film
with him exposes the complexities at the heart of the story. In the Tango,
she must follow. But her instinct as a filmmaker is to lead.
 
        "These are the basic plot ingredients of Sally Potter's marvellous
new film, along with her characteristic panoply of gorgeous architectural
locations, precise sense of cinematic structure, complex reflections on
relationships, entrancing music, meticulous attention to colour, light and
composition, and winging inquiry into the philosophical and historical
meaning of things. And for those who only know 'Orlando', there is a new
element: Dance.
 
        "Dance has been in Potter's films from the beginning, in the early
dance shorts of course, and notably in 'Thriller', 'The Gold Diggers', and
'The London Story'. But here Potter is working with dance at an
unprecedented level: 'The Tango Lesson' is suffused with it, creates
narrative with it, and investigates the meaning of dance itself. And it is
glorious."
 
        Sally did a Q&A after the screening of "The Tango Lesson". I was
kicking myself (not too hard) because I could have brought a tape recorder,
but anyway here are a few notes I jotted down. First of all, she is a great
tango dancer, and she showed herself to be very aware, bright, talkative, in
control and generally happy. She was asked, how was it to direct herself?
She paused and said, very hard. It was "the opposite of narcissism, not at
all like stading in a mirror". The acting was almost an afterthought, she
said, because 90% of the time was spent directing. It was also a very funny
movie - she has great comic timing. She said she wanted to make a movie to
reach anyone who had ever experienced hope and disappointment about
anything, i.e. that she wanted it to move beyond dance. (I also noted that
the female/male split in the audience was about 80/20.) There was a funny
scene in the lobby at the end - an old, stout  woman with a European accent
that I couldn't place had obviously taken the movie quite seriously, and she
came up to Sally and said in a kind of half-weepy, half-lecturing way, You
are such a lovely couple! You are very lucky! Hold on to that man! He is
very special! and Sally just gave her a hug and thanked her. (Pablo Veron,
the Instructer, is obviously the Argentinian Fred Astaire, and in the film
he gets the chance to do a few tap numbers and one terrific scene when he
dances while moving around the kitchen, making a salad. Great fun.)
 
        Anyway, I'm all Sallied out! I hope you can use the above info. Take
care.
 
        Jeff
 
(PS I'm sending this to you directly and via the film newsgroup.)
 
At 01:43 AM 9/5/97 -0400, you wrote:
>According to Gloria Monti:
>>
>>         Sally Potter brought *Tango Lesson* to the Venice FilmFest.  I
>> attended the press conference and asked a question to which she responded
>> in a less than satisfactory way.  I made a comment regarding the
>> the reversal of the male gaze--which I found interesting.  Potter is both
>> directing and starring in the film, in which she plays a film
>> writer/director turned dancer.  The camera often lingers on the male body
>> performing tango sequences.  However, this reversed scopophilia is
>> 1)undermined: the female is longingly gazing at a man who does not love
>> the woman back; and
>> 2)recuperated narratively with a happy ending.  About these two points,
>> Potter said that "love is a lot more complicated than that."
>>         Not what I expected from such a thoughtful director.
>>
>>         Gloria Monti
>
>Thanks for the information about *Tango Lesson*.  Yes, my sense is that in
>*Orlando*, Potter had moved far away from the aesthetic disruptions of
>her early short film, *Thriller*.  And while *Orlando* can certainly be
>read as a feminist project continuous with *Thriller*'s revision of
>*La Boheme*, Potter's rhetoric about *Orlando*--in interviews and
>quotes--seemed intent on minimizing the feminist politics of the film.
>This makes me curious about why Potter has decided to withdraw *The Gold
>Diggers*, which seems from my reading to be a classic for feminist film
>criticism.
>
>It seems to me also that the withdrawal of a film raises interesting
>questions about authorship.  More than simply allowing the film
>to go "out of print" or undistributed, Potter has, as I understand it,
>asked (told?) Women Make Movies not to allow their copy of *The Gold
>Diggers* to be viewed. Is this a common practice among filmmakers?
>
>Cynthia Port
>Department of English
>University of Pennsylvania
>
>----
>Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
>University of Alabama.
>
>
 
----
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the 
University of Alabama.