Sight and Sound: the Winter 2021-22 issue
The full-length interview with Joanna Hogg is available in our latest issue. Also: We count down the 50 best films of 2021. How many have you seen? And the best TV, books and discs of the year; interviews with Paul Thomas Anderson, Guillermo del Toro and Paolo SorrentinoFind out more
The Souvenir Part II is the winner of Sight and Sound’s ‘best films of 2021’ poll. See the full results. After the votes were tallied and our top 50 confirmed, we told director Joanna Hogg and star Honor Swinton Byrne the good news and gathered their thoughts.
Pamela Hutchinson: Congratulations on winning the poll. How do you feel?
Honor Swinton Byrne: It’s really cool.
Joanna Hogg: It’s a wonderful thing for all of us collaborating on both films. For many, it’s been a four-year journey. So it’s a very satisfying end to that journey.
A film about a woman making a film has won. Does that mean something to you in particular?
JH: I’m casting my mind back to when I first started thinking about telling the story, and the importance of telling a story about the development of an artist’s voice. That was a time when it was rare to hear from women in an artistic way. It’s so wonderful that this young woman’s voice is being accepted in this way.
Julie is such a fascinating character. Honor, how has it been to play her?
HSB: It’s so funny, because she’s almost not the same character. I feel like she really became one of my best friends over these two films. I can relate to all Julie’s different little personality traits, all her different transformations and alter egos throughout both films. The end of the second film is closest to Honor currently. But the beginning of the first one, I was like that. I was more shy and withdrawn. It really is like witnessing a friend recover from something really shaking. It’s beautiful to see the growth – that happens to all of us in our different ways, and at different speeds, in different parts of life.
Honor, you’ve had such a success with these two films and I wondered what was up for you next?
HSB: I’m at university, I’m in third year psychology in Edinburgh, and it’s getting quite difficult so I’m concentrating on that a wee bit. I don’t want to speak for Joanna, but I think this will not be the last time Joanna and I work together. I hope not anyway.
JH: Definitely not.
People really respond to the longform world-building of The Souvenir films. Why do you think that is?
JH: I don’t know if this answers your question exactly, but I’m so excited about making films in different lengths and not being restricted to one 90-minute piece. And this has opened up for me the possibilities of making work in different shapes. One very long film is more difficult. But it’s made me think about the different ways of making films. I think my interest is not in television. It’s still keeping the idea of cinema alive.
When The Souvenir won the S&S poll in 2019, Joanna, you said you were thinking about how to make the cinema space important again.
JH: Since then I haven’t had a lot of time to think beyond the job in hand. And I’ve shot another film that I’m finishing now. But once I’m the other side of this new film, I’m really excited to start thinking of what the possibilities are. You mentioning that makes me excited about what that could mean. I do think that there’s something about finding a good reason for people to go out and into a cinema. Ways that we can keep that space afloat.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about Part II, for readers who haven’t seen it yet?
HSB: It is a crude way to say it, but it is like finishing a meal, a big feast. I left feeling so full and so perfectly satisfied in this really wholesome way. From what I understand, many people are very hungry for the second one, to see how things are resolved and how they go on.
JH: Part II, and I keep reminding myself of this, is always intended to be full of joy. And I hope that there is something joyful in the experience of watching it.
The 50 best films of 2021
After over 1000 votes by more than 100 critics and contributors, we announce the results of our annual poll – the best films in cinemas, at festivals and online in 2021
Originally published: 30 November 2021