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Falling into silence

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Falling into silence

I am writing this from London, following a two-week break from everything my life has been for the last four years. No aeroplanes, no airports, no editing rooms, no illuminated screens, no coffee, no blog.

Four years ago I was in exactly the same place – a tiny island off the coast of Cornwall – and was walking down a leafy lane back to my tent by a beach, when a woman passing in the lane asked ‘Have you heard? They have blown up the towers in New York.’ This time, having completed a four-year cycle of writing a script prompted by that very event, then shooting, editing and traveling with the completed film, right up to its first commercial opening in New York, the question from a passerby was eerily similar: ‘Have you heard? They have blown up the underground in London.’

I called and texted all my friends to check they were okay, and then did a couple of newspaper interviews from my mobile phone in my tent which touched on what I now thought about some of the things I had written in the screenplay, particularly the sentiments coming from the mouth of the Lebanese hero about life in the West. As the whole experience of making this film has been like a constant mirroring of events unfolding around us, my answer could only be that the feeling of necessity from which the film erupted has increased in its intensity. The necessity to speak and to listen, to contradict stereotypes, eastern and western, and to remember that, ultimately, we are all connected.

I then fell into silence, staring at the sea, the rocks, the mist, the birds. Despite the invitation which writing a blog offers to dash out opinions, it seemed from the day-old newspapers I was able to borrow that there were a lot of opinions already out there. I feel I have done my best with the film itself to offer not opinions but voices, contradictory voices sometimes, but each one as complex and complicated as we are as individuals, and reflecting the diversity of belief and opinion in the London I have grown up in. An anxious teenager, a dying atheist, a Jamaican Christian, a young white man looking for a scapegoat to explain his problems, an American woman rich with privilege but poor in happiness, a Middle Eastern man suffering in his migrant displacement, a white middle aged male grieving for his broken idealism, a cleaner musing on dirt, evidence and karma as she cleans his toilet.

Knowing that audiences were watching the film in the US while Londoners were grieving and afraid (despite all claims of stoicism in the media) and meanwhile I was living on a campsite, fetching water, building furniture from driftwood, swimming in the bitingly cold sea, watching the red sun fall slowly into the horizon in the evening, was itself a reminder of parallel universes, albeit observed from a safe and beautiful perspective. Even in times of war, people continue to eat, to shop, to talk, to love. And even while bombs were raining down on Fallujah, some of us were safely in our beds, or preoccupied with money problems, or what to wear, or buy.

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View From Tent

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Sitting On Driftwood Chair

Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated