Berlin: Sally Potter Says Big-Budget Movies Have a "Numbing Effect" on Audiences

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Sally Potter at the Berlin Film Festival

During a press conference at the film fest, the British auteur also discussed how the opening of 'The Party' is a deliberate political statement on Brexit: "Truth-telling is so central to the politics in this story."

Sally Potter says her latest movie is a pared-down and more human alternative to Hollywood’s usual fare.

"It's kind of an antidote to massive budget films with millions of special effects and stuff, which in the end creates a kind of numbing effect: I want more, I want more, I want more," the British auteur said Monday at a press conference for The Party, ahead of its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

The political comedy — which captures highbrow friends played by Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson over one evening in a London house — was shot on the hop and sparingly over two weeks, and after only three days of rehearsals.

"With this [film], I want to get the feeling of taking away, and finding something peculiarly human and going as deep as we can in a short space of time," Potter added about the film, which also features Cillian Murphy, Bruno Ganz and Cherry Jones in the ensemble.

Intending the intimate house party portrayed in her film to unfold in real time, Potter noted the irony of writing and shooting the script for The Party against the backdrop of the UK's Brexit debate and referendum vote. "Brexit happened during our two-week shoot — half the crew and cast turned up weeping that morning as we found out the result," the Orlando director recalled.

And including the uplifting English hymn "Jerusalem" at the opening of the film was a deliberately political statement, Potter revealed. At one point, she even took a jab at Britain's Labor Party for losing sight of its founding working class principles before last year's national election, before returning to them under new leadership.

"I did start writing this [film] just before the last general election in the U.K., at a point when it seemed like the left in the U.K. was very much losing its ability to be sincerely brave about its policies and was trying to disguise itself as something very centrist," Potter explained. "Things have changed, and things became quite polarized as I was writing. But what was central to it was the feeling that people were losing the ability to know even what the truth was. That's why truth-telling is so central to the politics in this story."

The Party is financed by Great Point Media and produced by Adventure Pictures, Potter's production shingle, along with her long-term producer, Christopher Sheppard, and Kurban Kassam. Sally Potter is represented by ICM Partners, which represents the domestic rights for The Party.