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Experimenta

The Gold Diggers

Sally Potter’s debut feature is a sci-fi-musical extravaganza starring Julie Christie.

Image from The Gold Diggers

UK 1983
Dir Sally Potter
With George Antoni, Julie Christie, Kassandra Colson
89min
Digital
Certificate U

We present the very first feature by legend of the independent scene, Sally Potter, an artist and filmmaker who rose to international prominence through films such as Orlando and The Tango Lesson, and working with Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci on The Man Who Cried. The Gold Diggers followed a series of short experimental works made in the context of the London Filmmakers' Co-op and The Place dance studio which often mixed live performance with multi-screen presentations, and reflected on the body and personal identity. Made with an all-female crew and written with dancer Rose English and musician Lindsay Cooper, who had performed with various experimental groups through the 1970s, The Gold Diggers was eagerly anticipated when it opened in 1983.

Shot in black and white by Babette Mangolte, it looked sumptuous and otherworldly, at times more like science fiction than an upfront exploration of the links between the engines of finance and masculine control. It stared the famed actress Julie Christie and Colette Laffont as two women, one a filmstar, the other a computer clerk, on different interlinking, labyrinthine journeys, slowly realising that their interests in memory and female beauty, gold and power, may well in fact be connected. It was a bold, audacious first feature - Annette Kuhn has called it 'a love letter to, and a critique of, mainstream cinema' - and the first, possibly only, full-length UK movie to be made exclusively by women with everyone on the same pay. Thirty-five years later, we return to Potter's act of creative and political interrogation The Gold Diggers, seeing how feature filmmaking and experimentation can work together, and how experimentation and ethical considerations impact and resonate as much behind the camera as in front.

Also available on BFI Player.

This screening will be followed by The Experimenta Salon: The Gold Diggers at 20:10 in the library – free to ticket holders of The Gold Diggers on Monday 5 February at 18:20 (please book via the box office due to limited capacity), otherwise £6.50.


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