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Forums  >  Film-making  >  Orlando...
Author Post
at 05:21, 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 3
Hi Sally,
I am Elisabetta, I'm studying english literature at University La Sapienza in Roma. I'm almost to finish my studies and my thesis will be about Orlando the book by Virginia Woolf and about your movie. I'd like to talk with you about your film and about the book. It would be a great help to my work, and surely it would be a big chance for me to talk with you because I think your work is wonderful and I really admire you.
Sorry for my english!!!
Thank you.
at 05:11, 6 Feb 2006
Posts: 1
Please post your email address so we can contact you.
at 05:56, 11 Feb 2006
Posts: 1
Orlando and my Ph dissertation
Hi! Sally, I would like to thank you for your wonderful work for women all around the world. My name is Francisca and I do really admire what you did with Woolf,s novel as I confess she has always appealed to my feminine side. I am working on my Ph Dissertation, at the University of Malaga, a beautiful and coastal city at the south of Spain. My work is based on your adaptation of Woolf,s Orlando and I would like very much to contact you in order to share your views and opinions about this incredible woman whom we both admire. My e-mail address is PAKI_PORTILLO@HOTMAIL.COM. I look forward to your reply and I would also like to invite you to my city since we are going to celebrate a Film Festival which is becoming famous in Spain (Antonio Banderas was born in my city and he is doing his most for it). As I have said before, I hope to hear something about you soon, a kiss... well, we give two kisses in Spain!
at 13:18, 11 Feb 2006
Posts: 3
My email address is, I hope you can contact me soon, thank you! Elisabetta.
at 13:29, 11 Feb 2006
Posts: 3
To Francisca (paki)
For we are working about the same subject, I'd like to talk with you about the topic!!! You are spanish, and I am studying spanish as well, and I'd like to improuve my spanish. :) If you want to share opinions about Orlando,Virginia Woolf and Sally Potter's works. If you want you can contact me on this forum or write to me:
at 04:36, 15 Mar 2006
Posts: 1
Reading Orlando

i've just seen ms. potter's orlando last month and in the weeks thereafter i repeatedly viewed it. i just can't get enough of orlando! i'm a creative writing major and im studying gender and literature as one of my major subjects. orlando has illustrated for me the concepts of sexuality, female subjection to domesticity, etc.
what was most striking for me in the film was the time orlando faces the mirror, observes her transformed self and says: Same person. No difference at all... just a different sex.

now, after the countless times i've seen the film, im finally reading virginia woolf's novel. i've tried reading orlando when i was in first year college but i guess i just wasn't ready for virginia woolf's language. well, i've finally found the drives to go through the novel (the drives, that are to compare the novel with the film, to see how well sally potter adapted the novel to film, to enjoy woolf's writing and to find new insights in the novel) and i must say, it's wonderful.

at 09:41, 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 0
Orlando, the film, as inspiration
Dear Sally Potter,

When I recently saw Orlando and how you so beautifully captured Virginia Woolf's powerful grasp of economics, history, and gender, I felt that I must contact you about a script of mine that dramatically links economics to women throughout the world. It is a story about the life of a female martial artist who is taken hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2005.

Virginia Woolf has always appealed to me for her brilliant mind and I was amazed to see that your film captured it visually. It was like a miracle. I would never have thought that film could accomplish capturing the essence of Woolf's thought and artistry, but you did it!

I think a mind like yours would appreciate the subject matter in my films and bring them to life significantly.

In addition to my latest script mentioned above, I have an earlier screenplay that deals with the frightening move to religious states throughout the world, this too with a female protagonist.

Thank you for your fantastic ability to make brilliant films at the highest level of artistry imaginable.

Sincerely, James
at 09:45, 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1
message above by James
I forgot to put my email address if you care to reply directly to me.

at 06:49, 8 Apr 2006
Posts: 1
Please help me for my A level media project
Dear Sally,

I am a media studies student and i am doing my own independant research on women directors and where women directors are heading in terms of gender politics. In my research i came across your fabulous 'Orlando' and thought that you conveyed this quite messy subject with wonderful humour and insight. I would be greatful if you could answer some of my queries on the subject.

When producing a film like 'Orlando' do you aspire for a mixed audience or primarily a female one?

Do you think that women directors are now finding it easier to enter the industry compared to 10 years ago? Or are they considered by industry as being somewhat inferior to male directors who are considered the real story tellers?

lastly, the child at the end of 'Orlando', does she represent you? My conclusion from that sequence was that we should move on from the past and focus on issues concerning the present and future and above all, take life light heartedly.

my email adress is:
I hope you find time to answer my questions and i look forward to hearing your reply.

kind regards, Sarah

sally potter
at 12:35, 11 Apr 2006
Posts: 193
1. I never think about a limit on the audience for a film, whether by gender, age, nationality or anything else. I am always trying to reach out to a commonality beyond our differences.
2. I think it must be a little easier for female directors starting out now. When I started making films there were very few female directors. We are still a small minority within the industry, but there are now enough examples for it to be clear that film directing is not inherently a male job.
But the myth of female inferiority runs very deep. However much everyone pretends otherwise, in many respects we are still 'The Second Sex' (do read Simone de Beauvoir's book if you haven't already). Just the simple fact that women are universally paid less than men for the same job tells its own story. However, women have always found ways of expressing their genius....whether within the confines of the home,or, for example in writing. It is no accident that writing is the least expensive of all the arts. Some paper and a pencil will suffice. Many women have written on kitchen tables, surrounded by domestic chaos, and achieved greatness. But film is a very expensive fact it is an interface of art and industry, and it is because it is so expensive, can be seen by so many and therefore wields so much power in the arena of the imagination (as well as bringing in money for financiers) that women have been excluded from leadership. I do not think it is because people believe men to be better storytellers. In many cultures it is women who are responsible for oral history. And in the film industry there have always been quite a lot of female screenwriters, responsible for the craft of the story structure and dialogue. But film is more than storytelling. It is image, music, sound; both a reflection and creation of who we are and how we behave, what we aspire to, dream of, wish we were. It is an enormous space to work in, and brings into focus the question of point of view.
All female directors are constantly asked : are your films different because they are made by a woman? If you imagine the same question asked of a male director you see how absurd it is.
but there is hope. if you want to be a film director i can assure you, it can be done.
3.The child at the end of Orlando is her daughter. But of course she is also all of our daughters, or the daughters that, as women, we all are. She is playing with her camera, unburdened by any doubt that she can do it, or that she is in any way 'less than' anybody else because she is a girl. When i wrote and directed that scene i wanted it to be a gift to younger women such as yourself to free yourself from the heavy grief of history and launch yourself into a future of your own making.
And perhaps, therefore, she is also me, the little girl I once was, before the struggles really began, before anyone said 'no'.

I hope this helps.
Good luck with your A levels.
at 05:30, 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 1
Dear Sally Potter,

My name is Sarah Mastrangelo and I am also a Media Studies student, at present taking my A-Levels at Bilborough College, Nottingham, UK. I am currently taking part in a critical research module and am specifically focusing on the representation of women in film, primarily by female filmmakers. Having recently watched your film 'Orlando', I found it mesmorising; and have therefore decided on focusing my studies specifically on your work. Therefore, it would be fantastic if you could answer a few questions, which I have written below. My e-mail address is, if you decide you would like to e-mail them directly to me. Any help you could give me would be brilliant, and would be very much appreciated!
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope to hear from you soon!

Sarah Mastrangelo


Would you say that there is a stigma associated with the word Feminism? What do you personally believe the word Feminism to entail?

Would you say that you yourself were a Feminist director?

Do you feel that female filmmakers such as yourself present a fairer/more realistic portrayal of women in film?

In the future, do you think the representation of females in film will change, with regard to both male and female directors? If so, why?
sally potter
at 07:18, 16 Apr 2006
Posts: 193

The problem with the word ‘feminism’ is that it has become an imprecise term. Everybody thinks it means something different. For some women it means a liberation movement, offering clarity about the underlying reasons for the way women are treated as second class citizens; feminism for them means a movement of change against injustice and oppression: violence, low pay, exploitation in the home and at work and so on. (This is how I understood the term when I first encountered it, and used it freely and happily at the time.) For some others feminism means exclusively middleclass concerns which ignore the realities of women in the third world and those who are battling not only sexism but also racism. For others feminism raises a spectre of aggressive man-hating harridans, constantly blaming, acting the victim. When the term is applied to film and the other arts it gets even more complicated. Is a feminist film one made a woman (any woman, whatever her views), or is a feminist film one that portrays ‘positive’ images of women, or deals exclusively with female issues as its subject matter?

It is because the word has been so misused that I tend to avoid it, except amongst friends where it can be a short hand for something we all understand. In general, I find it too general! It seems more useful to take each idea or issue and find more specific words to express the nuances of experience and to define the politics more carefully. This is not a retreat from the desire to end female oppression in any of its guises, rather the contrary.

I do not call myself a feminist director because I don’t want to be any kind of an ‘-ist’ when I am writing or directing. A film cannot express a party line of any kind, it cannot be a ‘should’. It has to find its own voice. And as a writer I have to imagine how it is to be male, black, old, and so on, things I am not, in order to write authentic characters with varying points of view.

Also, I have found that being labeled a feminist director has, to some extent, ghettoized my work (and the work of other female directors). It is a lazy shorthand for some critics that enables them to dismiss the work, and to ignore what we are trying to achieve on many other levels. I am tired of interviews that centre around me being female. Sometimes I just want to talk about lenses, framing, film stocks, the new media, working with actors, editing, and a myriad other fascinating aspects of filmmaking, instead of what it has been like being a female behind the camera. However, the fact that this continues to be such a hot topic itself speaks volumes about the relative rarity of female directors, which is of course a feminist issue!

Concerning your last two questions about representation of women on film, and whether female film directors are changing this…yes, probably. I don’t think it is a matter of being ‘fair’ (although stereotypes of any kind are indeed unfair), rather it is a matter of being subtle. All humans, whether male, female, young, old, of any race, are immensely complex beings. As screenwriters and directors we need to approach our characters with care, love , respect and compassion. Anything less is a betrayal of our intelligence.
Images of women as naff bimbos or horrid crones, somehow sidelined from the main action, present only as decoration, distraction, or a bit of ‘heart’, is a waste of space and an insult to the deeper nature of every viewer who wants to recognize his or her secret knowledge of what we are. This principle applies to all social groups, it just takes different forms.

I have tried to answer your questions here to the best of my ability in the relatively short time I have. However, we are in the middle of compiling a bibliography which will list more in-depth discussions, interviews and so on which I have participated in over the years, which deal with some of these issues touched on here, for all those of you who are investigating similar themes. This will eventually form part of the new web-site ( which is currently under construction.

Good luck with your work.
at 09:21, 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 1
Whilst this is being compiled please find more info on the BFI's Sally Potter page here
at 06:30, 19 Oct 2006
Posts: 1
Dear Sally,

I know this is most probably very old news for you, but as itis still one of my all time favort film 'Orlando'.

Well I just wanting to say thank you to you for making it and what a grand job you have done indeed.

Kind regards

Thy x
at 03:48, 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 2
lent snapshots from orlando, fore a documentary film
Dear Sally. There is a young film maker, doing her final round at the Danish filmschool, in Copenhagen.. She is doing a documentary film about me, who is a culptor living in Sweden and Czeck republic and just now in Italy.. only doing an artist in residency here for 3 month though.. We would very much like to borrow "snapshots" relating to our film ,my art and life.. There is many things corresponding to my life as for the caracter Orlando.. If I could talk about our project directly I would very much like that better and I could explane the thing with our idea.. who we are,ect.. This is too public! Isnt it? is there an other e-mail address or could one be contacted some how.. Iam not very good at this chating in a fora like this.. first time, so if I could be helped and be contacted from any body out there.. sorry but Iam really stone age.. Falco
at 12:05, 26 Oct 2006
Posts: 1
Dear Falco,
If you can ask specific questions, using this message board, then Sally Potter will do her best to answer them. We always encourage people to use the message board to ask their questions, so that everyone can share in the replies.
Thank you.
at 10:22, 28 Oct 2006
Posts: 2
Dear Sally Potter.
Can we use part of Your fantastic Orlando, like snapshots in an documentary film about me and my works.. sculptures in stone! the snapshots could be around half a second.. or maybe little longer.. reflecting or mirroring similar things in her documentary film! And if possible use the end of Orlando when sitting under this trea and looking at this angel singing fantasticly.. U know the song nor woman nor man.. Very nice contra tenor! I would like to show U my sculptures and tell who we are.. Ofcourse it would tell in the after text.. Thanks to Sally P. and so on.. Falco
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