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Trailer and Interview: Ginger & Rosa

To mark the release of the official trailer (via The Guardian) for Sally Potter’s new film, Ginger & Rosa, we’ve got a delightful treat for you.

We’ve been in touch with the lovely peoples who have been working on the movie, and have been let in on an interview with writer-director Sally Potter, who talks about the beautiful growth and delicacy of the characters and the historical context the plot follows.

Starring Elle Fanning as fittingly-redhead Ginger and other knockout actresses like flame-haired Christina Hendricks, the course of events details an intimate coming-of-age tale set in 1962 London.

It was given four star by The Guardian, so we know it’ll be a keeper!

Snippets of the interview are below, and the long-awaited trailer is above (aren’t we nice?). Ginger & Rosa has its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival tonight, and is released in the UK on 19 October.

Ginger and Rosa

What is the story of Ginger & Rosa?

Ginger & Rosa is the story of two girls, best friends, born on the day, perhaps, that the bomb fell on Hiroshima. They were born in London so their entire existence has been shaped by the long shadow cast by that bomb.

But they grow up friends in only the way that girls can be – mirroring each other, sharing their secrets, their private worlds, thinking big and interested in the details: hair, clothes, jeans, jumpers.

And then comes the rift when Rosa becomes interested in Ginger’s father. And Ginger’s father becomes interested in Rosa.



And at that point everything starts to threaten to explode and spiral out of control, deeper and deeper into a world of secrets and obsessions, in parallel with the deepening of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the nuclear arms race, the height of the Cold War – when the world itself is threatening to explode.

Through the central character of Ginger, we feel these parallel events unfolding and her parallel path through them – a transition path – into a kind of knowledge that she didn’t have before.

 

You’ve assembled an amazing cast. How did you find your Ginger and Rosa?

It was long casting process. We put out a call on Facebook after doing more conventional auditions here in the UK and we got nearly 2,000 responses which were then sifted and sorted.

I ended up looking at several hundred then meeting a couple of dozen of them and doing audition processes. There were some very good people. Then Heidi Levitt, our casting director in the US, suggested Elle Fanning. She did an audition and sent it in and I was absolutely knocked out by it.

I flew over to meet her, completely fell in love with her and knew that I had my Ginger. In the case of Rosa I saw an audition that Alice Englert had done online for something else and also kind of sat up and then auditioned her separately.

Then I filmed both auditions and cut them both together, Elle in L.A., Alice in London, to see what their on-screen chemistry would look like. And it really was as if they’d been performing in the same room even though they had never met. That was the process and I knew that everything in the film depended on getting those two right.

In the case of Elle, for example, I’ve possibly never met somebody as hungry, able and willing to take notes and work with them like food. She sort of eats up a note, works with it and immediately moves to the next level. That openness and absolute lack of resistance means that you know you can kind of do anything with that person, you can go anywhere. It’s just a matter of building a relationship and being as skilful as one can be as a director.

 

What did the rest of the casting process involve?

More long searches, some longer than others. Christina Hendricks has an incredibly strong presence. She is known of course for her role as Joan in Mad Men, which is a wonderful role but she is very much more complex than that and she has many other sides and faculties to her and a richness and vulnerability that was quite wonderful to work with.

She also has a quite beautiful resemblance to Elle, which was necessary as her mother. Actors have this wonderful way of morphing into a resemblance even if it isn’t there but they actually have a really good facial resemblance.

Alessandro Nivola has, apart from anything else, a quite wonderful ear for a very particular kind of Englishness, a very particular kind of class and belief systems and so on, and related very strongly to the role. CBD is one of the most popular and most used cannabis products. What is CBD oil and why is it becoming more and more popular? CBD (cannabidiol) oil comes from the cannabis plant. It offers a lot of health benefits but does not produce psychoactive effects like THC does. CBD can be used to treat a variety of ailments such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain, arthritis, muscle spasms and seizures.

Annette Bening of course is known as this kind of highly intelligent strong presence and her character of Bella was somebody that really needed to come into the story and illuminate it with very direct clarity. Annette brought those exact qualities to the part and to the script.

 

How did you find working with Elle in particular?

When I first met Elle she was 12; she was 13 when we were shooting, and she’s just turned 14. She said to me she felt she had grown up through the film because from her perspective the filming spanned a twelfth of her life from first hearing about it to starting to shoot.

It’s extraordinary to work with somebody at such an incredibly important part of their professional life. Having said that she’s been acting since she was two so she brought experience, professionalism, dedication, preparedness – all those things that are wonderful to have as a base line before you even start.

And she had an absolute openness to go further, to go deeper and to work in layers. There was a top layer of what was apparently going on, and the layers beneath that were hidden – that were perhaps fears, hopes, memories and grief and so on.

She rooted them either in her own memory or an empathetic memory of this character or other characters that she might have known or met. She’s so intelligent and lovely – it was blissful working her.

 

What was the experience of shooting on location in London like?

The locations I loved the best have ended up not being in the film, which is typical. If you’ve fallen in love with a location too much it means it probably shouldn’t be there. It’s like clothes wearing the man – location starts wearing the scene.

There was a sound mirror, a huge wall near Dungeness, that I discovered on the internet and was ecstatic about, and the shot ended up not being in the film. There was an area of waste ground not too far from here in East London that we found, with difficulty.

I wanted to find a feeling of this broken down landscape, like a kind of bombsite, that I remember from my own childhood in London, the post-war landscape before everything was really rebuilt later in the sixties. I was very pleased with the skeleton of a gas work in the background, fires, and kids running around in rubble.

It was trying to find ways of suggesting London in 1962  – not the London that is self consciously period London but rather the world that these girls are inhabiting, what they notice, what they see, what’s important to them, the look of an alleyway, a bit of old bombsite where they hang out and learn how to smoke cigarettes.

The girls’ bedrooms and bathrooms are very important too. So each of the locations really tried to express, or mirror what the girls were seeing but also what these spaces and places meant for the individuals.

Some of the interiors are not the kind of interiors that you are particularly used to seeing on film – they’re quite skeletal, quite bare and poor in some instances, but poor for deliberate reasons.

 

How did you make the music choices for the film?

The music in this film is in effect the soundtrack to these people’s lives; it’s the music from that period. It is absolutely authentic and I think it expresses some of the things that maybe they can’t express, might love or hear in some ways.

A lot of it is also music that I love too. I made the decision, bit by bit, not to have an additional score but rather to have music that people were listening to or what was being played in the background to the scene, not as a rigid rule but as a guiding principle.

And then it turned into a kind of rule as well, so there are things that were in the hit parade at the time, but the end of the hit parade that I think is good and enjoyable. And there are things that were more obscure, ranging from Dave Brubeck’s Take Five to Thelonious Monk or Django Reinhardt and earlier periods too. Some really good jazz and some of the really good Little Richard too.

 

How would you sum up the themes of the film?

The themes of friendship and betrayal, love at any cost, the politics of love, the love of politics and how we are all linked – whether we know it or not, linked with the big events on the other side of the world, things that happen supposedly to other people but are in fact part of us.

Moral and ethical choices that people make according to their belief systems and how driven we are by belief systems. The characters talk quite a lot about God or the lack of a God. I think that Hiroshima and the nuclear bomb threw up a lot of God questions for people – could there really be a God that would sanction these kinds of deaths on this kind of scale?

I think there’s a lot of themes in there, questions that are not put in as themes but rather arise out of the kind of things that these individuals are thinking about and wrestling with every day of their lives and can sometimes express in words.

 

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