Vlastimir Sudar

Film critic, Sight & Sound; professor of film history and theory, University of the Arts London; filmmaker

Serbia/UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

After Life

1998

Koreeda Hirokazu

Arnulf Rainer

1960

Peter Kubelka

Camera Buff

1979

Krzysztof Kieslowski

Close-Up

1989

Abbas Kiarostami

Girl Chewing Gum, The

1976

John Smith

I Even Met Happy Gypsies

1967

Aleksandr Petrovic

Mirror

1974

Andrei Tarkovsky

Mulholland Dr

2001

David Lynch

Numéro deux

1975

Jean-Luc Godard/Anne-Marie Miéville

Opening Night

1977

John Cassavetes

Comments

After Life gently reveals the most seductive aspect of narrative cinema: it enables us to relive moments that are irretrievably gone. And at the end of our lives, we all get to be film directors. Close-Up completely obliterates the boundary between fiction and documentary in order to turn the most seductive aspect of cinema upside down. And it also shows how solemn and painful it can be (to want) to be a filmmaker. Mirror, an attempt at a cinematic autobiography, ends up as a story about the main character’s relationship with himself. If – following the usual method of film watching – we identify with the protagonist, then the film becomes a meditation on our own relationship with ourselves: narrative cinema brought full circle to its point zero. Although The Girl Chewing Gum is a short film, this Oberhausen winner humorously reveals filmmaking and film directing as a ridiculously preposterous endeavour. Camera Buff reveals filmmaking as a process entangled in a deeply complex moral maze, in which it is not always easy to maintain one’s sanity. The filmmaker ends up as a devastated and lost loser. If the world of theatre stands in in Opening Night for that of film – which would not be much of an interpretational stretch in this gem directed by the most independent of all the American filmmakers – then the lives of those making them is hell, with only thin but blissful possibilities of redemption. Numéro deux is an unprecedented attempt by an acclaimed director to begin his career again, employing video long before anyone else – a filmmaker trying to find himself through his work. Mulholland Dr. thrives effortlessly on the idea that films can reverse time and turn interpretations upside down, while its filmmaker character is a lost, self-obsessed arse. I Even Met Happy Gypsies proves that cinema can reveal things that up to that point had been unseen. It portrays a marginalised group constantly watching and squabbling over a television set – an ersatz world that appears to be better then their reality. Arnulf Rainer is a short, structuralist documentary that reduces cinema to four of its basic elements – light, dark, silence, noise – thus easily demonstrating that there is beauty in film apart from narrative and representation, which are here completely eliminated. Film solipsism at its best, defeating all of the above.

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