TORONTO -- After a warm reception at last weekend’s Telluride Film Festival, the film “Ginger and Rosa” screened Friday night at the ornate Elgin Theater in Toronto. Written and directed by Sally Potter, best known for her abstracted narratives such as in “Orlando,” the film is a normatively direct and emotionally explosive telling of a moment of transition for two girls. It has been tipped as one of the noteworthy acquisition targets of the festival season, in part because of the accomplished, seemingly awards-ready performance by Elle Fanning.
Set against the anti-nuclear protest movement in England in the early 1960s and the Cuban Missile Crisis specifically, the film follows Ginger (Fanning) and Rosa (noteworthy newcomer Alice Englert) as their eyes are opened to the world around them. Ginger’s parents (Alessandro Nivola and Christina Hendricks) weather problems of their own that spill over into the lives of the young girls. Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt and Annette Bening round out the cast as friends of the family
Taking the stage after the screening were Potter and her main cast members, Fanning, Englert, Hendricks and Nivola. Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the festival, asked Potter to address the way in which the film is drawn in no small part from her own experiences growing up.
“I wanted to make a film about how we are all in the world and the world is in us,” Potter said. “The most personal events, in family life, friendship, are echoed by the most extraordinarily huge events in the world. Also, 1962 seemed a good transition with these two girls’ lives between childhood and adulthood and also a transition for the entire Western world between the decade of the 1950s and the '60s when it wasn’t quite yet the '60s and importantly, the personal was not yet political.”
Bailey next asked Fanning to speak about her experiences making the film. Where everyone else on stage was dressed in some variation of black-and-white, Fanning looked resplendent in a purple suit with an optical pattern, making her a genuine bright spot on the theater’s large stage.
“My heart is pounding,” Fanning said. “That’s the first time I’ve seen the movie, so I’m really overwhelmed.”
Then, as if to remind the audience that the seemingly insightful, pulled-together actress is in fact also a 14-year-old girl, Fanning began to well up, her voice cracking as she tried to hold back a swell of tears.
“I just love Sally so much,” she sobbed out. “I really do, all of us, I feel we have a really deep connection.”
This led to something of a group hug between the filmmaker and her cast and Fanning’s tears turned to giggles as she acknowledged her predicament. “I was crying in the movie and I’m crying now. All I do is cry, cry, cry.”
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