A fixture of London’s avant-garde dance and performance art circuit since the 1970s, Sally Potter gained international critical attention and acclaim with Orlando (1993), based on Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel. Starring Tilda Swinton, this elegant and stylized satire presents a fanciful critique of gender politics as it presents 400 years in the life of a man who becomes a woman to escape the constraints of England’s assigned sex roles.
Potter trained as a dancer, went on to become a choreographer, and in 1974 co-founded the experimental Limited Dance Company. Potter choreographed and directed avant-garde dance, theater and film throughout the 70s; a memorable instance of the latter is her deconstructionist reworking of film musical conventions in the short Thriller (1979). She also worked as a musician/lyricist at various European jazz and new music festivals before writing and directing her feature debut, The Gold Diggers (1983). Following the success of Orlando, Potter has directed a richly diverse set of films, including The Tango Lesson (1997), The Man Who Cried (2000), Yes (2004) and Ginger & Rosa (2012). Her 2017 film The Party, starring Patricia Clarkson and Kristin Scott Thomas, won the Guild Film Prize at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.