Matthias Müller

Sleepy Haven; Phantom

Germany

Voted in the directors’ poll

Voted for

Colour of Pomegranates, The

1968

Sergei Parajanov

Faszinierendes Puppenhaus

Uli Versum

Girl Chewing Gum, The

1976

John Smith

Golfball - Ode to IBM

Mara Mattuschka

Imitation of Life

1959

Douglas Sirk

Stadt in Flammen

1984

Schmelzdahin

Standard Gauge

1985

Morgan Fisher

Titicut Follies

1967

Frederick Wiseman

verifica incerta, La

1967

Alberto Grifi/Gianfranco Baruchello

Weather Diary 3

George Kuchar

Comments

I rarely read any lists, except to-do and shopping lists. And I cannot contribute to a canon of ‘greatest films’ repeated over and over again already. My choice is a subjective one, a non-hierarchic selection of films that broadened and shaped my own understanding of film as art. Hitchcock (whom I once dedicated a critical homage to) is missing, and so is Ozu, whose work I love; I just did not succeed in deciding on one masterpiece that shines out of his others.

Faszinierendes Puppenhaus: Uli Versum was the most gifted of my fellow students at art school, an outstanding, ingenious maverick. Unfortunately, Faszinierendes Puppenhaus, his eclectic and stylised, yet explosive psychodrama, turned out to be Uli’s final work of art. This film is representative of all great films almost fallen into oblivion.

Imitation of Life: This is ultimate, quintessential melodrama, overcharged with emotion. You may not feel like shedding a tear, but here is advice to everyone who is not strangely moved at least when Mahalia sings: go see your shrink.

Kugelkopf: Hard-edged, energetic, physical cinema – and an assault on anyone trying to reduce women’s films to modest introspection.

Sayat Nova: An outsider’s film of strange, bewildering beauty, produced in radical opposition to its own cultural environment, a censored and mutilated masterpiece from a unique artistic vision.  Stadt in Flammen: Scenes of a common disaster movie were buried in a damp corner of the artists’ garden (this is underground cinema in the most literal sense), treated with bacteria, and conserved in the state of their dissolution. Meandering between figurative representation and abstraction, visibility and invisibility, presence and absence, Stadt in Flammen is a memento of decay and death that releases an amazing amount of vital energy at the same time.

Standard Gauge: The China Girl meeting La Chinoise – Morgan Fisher’s film elegantly succeeds in proposing “a kind of mutuality or interdependence between two kinds of filmmaking that by conventional standards are thought to be divided by an unbridgeable chasm” in one single shot.

The Girl Chewing Gum: John Smith’s (recently re-made) classic generously allows documentary and feature film to enter into a mind-blowing liaison.

Weather Diary 3: It seems impossible to just pick one film from Kuchar’s almost confusingly extensive body of work. It is long overdue to not limit his reputation to that of an infamous ‘king of trash’, but to value his work as that of a truly excellent and outstandingly courageous film artist.

Titicut Follies: Another formerly banned masterpiece of subversive cinema on my list, another powerful and relentless debut film. Thanks to the writings of Amos Vogel, Titicut Follies was one of the first films to make me sense the potential of daring documentary filmmaking.

Verifica Incerta: As I just learned, Baruchello worked for an explosives plant before starting his artistic career, a fact that makes perfect sense the moment you watch his joint project with Alberto Grifi, one of the seminal works of found footage film, ahead of its time – and a perfectly anarchic ode to cinema to end a list of ‘greatest films’.

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top