THE PARTY - a comedy wrapped around a tragedy - unfolds in real time in a house in London in the present day. Janet is hosting an intimate gathering of friends to celebrate her promotion to Shadow Minister of Health in the party of opposition. Her husband, Bill, seems preoccupied. As their friends arrive, some of whom have their own dramatic news to share, the soirée gradually unravels. An announcement by Bill provokes a series of revelations that rapidly escalate into all-out confrontation. As people’s illusions about themselves and each other go up in smoke, along with the canapes, THE PARTY becomes a night that began with champagne but ends with blood on the floor.

Director's Statement

THE PARTY is a comedy wrapped around a tragedy, in which a celebratory gathering of friends goes violently wrong in a very short space of time.

A week may be a long time in politics, but a few minutes can be a long time in a relationship. When under extreme pressure, in a confined environment – and any house that once felt like a sanctuary can quickly feel like a jail – everything hidden can come hurtling to the surface. This was the abyss I looked into as a writer. I wanted to invite laughter on a knife-edge, as we witness - through the inquisitive eye of the lens - this group of people failing abysmally to keep to their own party-line of what is morally right and politically left.

THE PARTY was conceived as a ‘bare-bones’ film turning confinement of place (and the constraints of realtime) into a virtue. In a black and white cinematic world without elaborate special effects or multiple changes of location, apparently simple elements have to do the work of storytelling. Everything is exposed. There is nowhere to hide when working with the primary ingredients of story, character, light and dark, voices and music. The camera peers into the shadows and stares unflinchingly at the faces of these characters in their moment of crisis - a crisis that develops as each one starts to tell the truth. I was blessed with an ensemble of great, risk-taking actors who launched themselves into the process with gusto and discipline in the service of the healing power of bitter-sweet laughter, at a moment when events in the world make us all want to weep.

Director's Biography

Sally Potter made her first 8mm film aged fourteen. ORLANDO (1992), Potter’s bold adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s classic novel, was nominated for two Academy Awards and brought her work to a wider audience. It was followed by THE TANGO LESSON (1996), THE MAN WHO CRIED (2000), YES (2004), RAGE (2009) and GINGER & ROSA (2012).
She has also directed many short films (including THRILLER and PLAY) and a television series, and has directed opera (Carmen for the ENO in 2007) and other live work. Her background is in choreography, music, performance art and experimental film.
Sally Potter is known for innovative form and risk-taking subject matter and has worked with many of the most notable cinema actors of our time. Her films have won over forty international awards and received both BAFTA and Oscar nominations, and she has won a European Film Award with ORLANDO in 1992. She has had full career retrospectives of her film and video work at the BFI Southbank, London, MoMA, New York, and the Cinematheque, Madrid. She was awarded an OBE in 2012. Her book "Naked Cinema - Working with Actors" was published by Faber & Faber in 2014

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Sally Potter

Written by: Sally Potter

Produced by: Christopher Sheppard

Cinematography: Alexei Rodionov

Editing: Anders Refn, Emilie Orsini

Production Design: Carlos Conti

Costume Design: Jane Petrie

Make-Up & Hair: Naomi Donne

Sound Design: Jean-Paul Muguel

Cast: Patricia Clarkson (April), Bruno Ganz (Gottfried), Cherry Jones (Martha), Emily Mortimer (Jinny), Cillian Murphy (Tom), Kristin Scott Thomas (Janet), Timothy Spall (Bill)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2017