The 56th BFI London Film Festival opens today, featuring more than 200 feature films as well as many documentaries, shorts, talks and masterclasses over 12 days.
One of the films in the official competition is Ginger and Rosa by Sally Potter, a British director famous among others for her brilliant adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando in 1992.
Our regular contributor Sophie Mayer has written extensively on Sally Potter (including a 2009 book The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love) and interviewed the director for The F-Word in 2007 about the latter’s take on Carmen.
Sophie admires the way Ginger and Rosa juxtaposes the personal and the political, telling the coming-of-age story of two teenage friends against the backdrop of volatile international politics and a parallel, but always intertwined, adult universe:
Once upon a time, there were two girls, one fair and one dark. Born on the same day, they were close as close can be: ironing each other’s hair, wearing each other’s clothes, sharing cigarettes and dreams of the future – a future over which the threat of the Cuban missile crisis hangs. There’s also growing up, which is both a dream and a threat, as the girls determine not to live their mothers’ lives but get caught in the confines of what it was in 1962 (and still is?) to be a heterosexual woman: the expectation of finding your happily ever after in the regard of a man, even if it means breaking up with your best friend.
Does the world of a teenage girl end with a bang or a whimper? How does a betrayal of those closest to you compare to a full-scale international diplomatic crisis?