‘Yes’ encapsulates poetry in post-9/11 world

By Stephanie Poquette

Poetry in motion; that’s the best way to describe Sally Potter’s “Yes.” Originally released to theatres in 2005, the movie has yet to be released on DVD because of its controversial content. Addressing love, religion, race, politics and, above all, a world in a state of panic all through iambic pentameter, was both daring and innovative.

“Yes” was the third movie shown at the 10th annual Ebertfest on Thursday. The movie highlights a love affair between She (Joan Allen), who no longer loves or identifies with her husband (Sam Neill), and He (Simon Abkarian) while in the midst of a post-9/11 world in England. As a Middle Easterner, He often finds himself defending his nationality in a world that has condemned him.

After several laughs and shocking moments – lavishly placed Christmas decorations and odd color schemes mock a world that has become so serious, while house cleaners appear to be the smartest people in the movie – the movie was followed up by a panel including John Penotti, executive producer; movie experts Hannah Fisher and Dr. Eric Pierson; and Professor of Cinema at San Diego University, Peter Sybinsky.

Potter, who was scheduled to attended Ebertfest but couldn’t because of filming, first introduced the movie to Penotti through a five-minute clip. Penotti, who admits to sending Potter fan mail after seeing her movie “Orlando,” said he was surprised by the range of emotion that could be encapsulated in five minutes.

“I thought, ‘There is going to be a flaw somewhere,'” said Penotti.

But, perhaps the biggest flaw is that the movie was overlooked by many critics and viewers, deemed to controversial and sensitive a subject just a few years after 9/11.

“I think people are afraid,” Fisher said. “They are afraid to see He as someone who is made an outsider. This movie is one that tries to reach across the great divides.”

It’s no surprise that Potter is trying to make people think outside of their comfort level. The movie, which Potter started writing shortly after 9/11, makes people question their treatment of Middle Easterners, democracy and the war itself.

“My gut reaction is that She’s sexual affair with an Arab is what turned people off from the film,” said Hugh Moore, host of Fly Over Zone radio station and attendee at Ebertfest.

Lana Wildman, another audience member, said she felt the topics in the film were ones that needed to be stated.

Just as viewers may question the content, He and She question their relationship in a world that still experiences racism and discrimination.

“So we are at war,” She said in the midst of a fight.

The reality of the situation is that their love and understanding that individuals exist instead of common stereotypes, allows them to say “Yes” to new experiences and other worlds.

Before saying no to seeing “Yes,” consider what She’s sarcastic, all-knowing cleaner said, “No does not exist, there is only Yes.”