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Naked Cinema: A Set Is a Safe Haven

15.02.2017 - Peter Cowie, Heidi Levitt, Timothy Spall

Instead of Sally Potter, her casting director Heidi Levitt will join Timothy Spall to discuss how to help actors show emotional intimacy on set. As viewers of films we experience along with our protagonists, sharing with them their birth, their first love, fighting and death. In these profound moments, the filmic world transports the viewer to a sometimes beautiful, sometimes shocking place of intimacy. In particular screenwriters, directors and actors must exercise great courage and self-reflection to convey this sensitivity. Director Sally Potter (The Party, Competition) is a master of translating the most inner self of a character into her stories and onto the screen through the close, yet never exploitative relationship she establishes with her performers. In conversation with British actor and frequent collaborator Timothy Spall, Potter reveals how to make the film set a place for sense and sensitivity.


Peter Cowie

photo of Peter Cowie
A film historian and former international publishing director of Variety magazine, Peter Cowie has written more than 30 books on major figures and eras of world cinema, including Bergman, Welles, Coppola and Kurosawa. He published and edited the annual International Film Guide for 40 years and has contributed numerous commentaries to Criterion’s DVD collection. He has been a consultant to Berlinale Talents since the programme’s inception in 2003.

Heidi Levitt

photo of Heidi Levitt
Heidi Levitt has collaborated with Sally Potter on three films, Rage (2009), Ginger & Rosa (2012) and The Party (2017). She is a casting director, producer and the creator of the mobile app, Actor Genie, an essential tool that tells who’s who and what’s casting in Hollywood. She has cast such films as The Artist, Nixon, JFK, Cesar Chavez, The Joy Luck Club, Lakeview Terrace, and many more. A graduate of Barnard College and The American Film Institute where she has served as adjunct faculty. As of 2017, Heidi is currently producing a film series called Exiles on Main Street in partnership with academy award winning documentary filmmaker, Alex Gibney. The series will feature six one-hour films that deal with the issues of culture clash and immigrant assimilation in America.

Timothy Spall

photo of Timothy Spall
Timothy Spall OBE is one of Britain’s best-loved and most talented character actors. He trained at the National Youth Theatre and RADA, and began his acting career in the theatre, with seasons at Birmingham Rep and the RSC. He received wide acclaim for his role as J.M.W Turner in Mike Leigh’s MR. TURNER, for which he won seven international awards, including the Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award. He is perhaps best known for his role as Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter film series. His diverse film work includes: THE KING’S SPEECH, THE DAMNED UNITED, SWEENEY TODD, ALL OR NOTHING, LUCKY BREAK, TOPSY TURVY and SECRETS AND LIES. Photo © Dean Chalkley