As Sally Potter travels around the world with 'YES'
she is keeping a diary exclusively for this web site
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A Different Film

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After several weeks in New York City I travelled by train to Boston for a day of interviews and a screening at Harvard. The train was slow and stately, with time to gaze out of the window at the clapboard houses, mostly immaculately painted in grey and white, each with its own yard, the whole panorama looking like a stage set of New England, except that it was real. The mournful sound of the train’s whistle and the cry of ‘all aboard’ from the conductor added to the fictional quality that forms so much of my experience of North America. The feeling of being in a story, or perhaps in a giant moment of deja-vu, has its roots in an over-familiarity with the landscapes and soundscapes of the US from years of watching American movies, advertisements, and listening to its music.

Stepping out of the train in Boston into the cold slightly damp air I somehow felt the presence of books. In the hotel there was a working fireplace and a ‘firewood menu’. I chose cherry. ‘Slow-burning and fragrant’ it said, and it was. Downstairs, a drink in the bar by another fire, served by a gently talkative Chilean, who, it transpired, had worked there for thirty years. The maitre d’ in the restaurant was also an immigrant of thirty years standing, but this time from Italy. He opened up under some friendly questioning, telling of how very good it was to live and work in Boston …and then his face darkened…‘except for the immigrants’ (presumably not Italian).

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SP with Andrew Fierberg in Harvard Square

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