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Sally Potter, filmmaker, dancer, actor, performance artist, choreographer, musician, considers herself first and foremost a director; this is what she started doing at age 14. As a young woman she studied dance and choreography at the London School of Contemporary Dance; she was a member of the innovative company Strider for a time, then formed The Limited Dance Company with Jacky Lansley. During this period she continued to make films, mostly shorts about dance. She then took up performance art and theatre direction, singing and composing. She made more films and documentaries, including Thriller (1979), a deconstruction of Puccini's opera "La Bohème"; The Gold Diggers (1983), which starred Julie Christie and was made by an all-female crew; and a documentary about women in Soviet cinema, I am an Ox, I am a Horse, I am a Man, I am a Woman (1988).

Potter made a big splash with her adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando (1993), a gorgeous version of the famous fantasy which starred Tilda Swinton and garnered two Academy Award nominations. Her next film was The Tango Lesson (1997), a fictionalized story of a film director (played by Potter) who, disillusioned with a film she is writing (called Rage, a film Potter abandoned at the time), decides to study tango with a dancer called Pablo Veron (played by dancer Pablo Veron). In 2000 came The Man Who Cried with a host of stars, including Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, and Christina Ricci.

Potter is a true Renaissance woman with a subtle intelligence and a keen eye for beautiful imagery and detail, and if you haven't seen any of her films yet, I recommend that you do. Her website, www.sallypotter.net, isn't very illuminating if it's facts you want, but they do show her visual sense, and leave exactly the right impression of her artistic productions: smart, interesting, mysterious, beautiful.

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