A new film by British filmmaker Sally Potter has been selected by the New Cinema Network as one of its 23 international projects. Called “The Party,” it is Potter’s first since 2012’s “Ginger and Rosa,” which starred Elle Fanning and Alice Englert as two young teenage girls growing up in ’60s London. A former performance artist and theater director, Potter is best known for stylish, experimental works such as 1992’s “Orlando,” which starred Tilda Swinton as its androgynous lead and featured Quentin Crisp as Queen Elizabeth I, and 2004’s “Yes,” which was written almost entirely in iambic pentameter.
“The Party,” says Potter, “is a script I developed with BBC Films and BFI jointly – they funded me as a writer. I’ve been writing it during the last couple of years and it’s set in the present day. It all takes place an hour and a half in a private home, where various individuals think they they’re coming together for a party. Some of them are involved in politics – party political politics – then there’s a huge crisis that comes about as a result of a series of revelations that throws their belief systems, their values, into total disarray. It’s funny, in a dark way.”
The film, she continues, was inspired by recent developments in the British political landscape. “Exploring what happens to people in crisis conditions and what happens to their beliefs is a perennially interesting thing,” she says. “But I was also fascinated by what was happening in Britain in politics, when everything seemed to move into the centre and then suddenly, very recently, became much more defined into left and right, with a much deeper sense of values and principles being talked about. It was a combination of those things and the feeling that our lives are political whether we think they are or not, because of what we believe to be important.”
Currently in the advanced stages of casting, as well as continuing to close finance, “The Party” is being developed in tandem with a second film, “Molly,” another time-based story, this time on a smaller scale. “ ‘Molly’ is a 24-hour odyssey in the life of one man and his daughter,” Potter explains, “with the father having a very different kind of crisis. It’s a very different kind of film. There are two massive parts, it’s not an ensemble piece in the same way as ‘The Party.’ ”
Where “The Party” plays out as if it is literally unfolding in front of the viewer, “Molly” is a story that takes place over the course of a day – both screenplays reflecting the director’s interest in time as a story element. Says Potter, “I’m absolutely fascinated by time, because that’s what one is sculpting in, as a filmmaker. Time awareness, whether it’s pace or the passing of time, is the very core of how you structure a film. And personally, of course, there’s a sense of time passing and the mystery of how incredibly fluid and plastic time is.”