THE TANGO LESSON (1997) [feature]

UK (MIFF 1998 , International Panorama)
Director: Sally Potter

"This film is based on my own experience and exists perilously on the knife edge between reality and fiction. The story describes the attraction of opposites: between Anglo-Saxon and Latin American cultures; between male and female; between the watcher and the watched; between the lover and the beloved; between leader and follower. It is also about power: the power of dance and music; the power of the drive to create; the power of love in the relationship between director and performer, and the power struggle between two individuals, each used to being the leader in their own sphere, but each needing to follow the other in order to realise their dreams." - Sally Potter

Seamlessly combining fiction and documentary Sally Potter and a cast playing themselves relate the story of a bargain made between a filmmaker and a dance instructor: if Pablo, an Argentinean dance coach living in Paris, can transform Potter into a competent tango dancer, she will make him a film star. Although Pablo very capably holds up his end of the deal, when it comes time for Potter to reciprocate... let's just say that it's difficult to follow when your instinct is to lead.

An undeniable hit at the London Film Festival, The Tango Lesson bares every step of the dual process it documents, with the director unselfconsciously detailing her own weaknesses, foibles and motives, sometimes in an disquieting but nonetheless seductive fashion. The honesty of the film - particularly in the segments where it becomes obvious that the director has fallen for her dashing Latin tutor - radiates from the screen.

Sally Potter was born in London in 1949. In the 70s she trained as a professional dancer and choreographer and during this period made several short dance films. Potter made her debut feature, The Gold Diggers, in 1983. She is probably best well known to Festival audiences for Orlando (MIFF 1993).

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