Suzy Gillett

International Relations manager, London Film School

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

"Diary"

David Perlov

argent, L'

1983

Robert Bresson

Fear Eats the Soul

1974

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

I Even Met Happy Gypsies

1967

Aleksandr Petrovic

Jules et Jim

1962

François Truffaut

Oak, The

1992

Lucian Pintilie

Reconstruction

1968

Lucian Pintilie

Salvatore Giuliano

1962

Francesco Rosi

Sicilia!

1998

Jean-Marie Straub/Danièle Huillet

Touki Bouki

1973

Djibril Diop Mambéty

Comments

Jules et Jim is the film that always trips off my tongue when people ask me “What’s your favourite film?” I first saw it at the Scala in Paris; I actually had two friends who looked like Jules and Jim, and we’d wander about wistfully for days (they turned out to be gay and are still together some 25 years later). Jules et Jim is one of those films that seeps into your life and becomes a permanent fixture. I still have a record of Jeanne Moreau singing ‘Tourbillion’, which has to be one of the most beautiful musical moments in film. I came across Pintillie’s oeuvre ridiculously late, and am still reeling from the shock of seeing The Oak last year in Cluj. In doing so I discovered a masterpiece and an explanation of the force behind the Romanian New Wave. The Oak grips you from the second it starts and holds you in its fist, with a tour de force performance by Maia Morgenstern. 3 Ali: fear eats the soul – rainer werner fassbinder – 1974 – Germany Fassbinder was one of my favourite directors when I was in my early twenties. I watched his entire oeuvre in the arthouse cinemas of Paris, and Ali is one I have rewatched again and again. I had pictures on my walls of it; it struck so many chords – him, her, the impossible love, the scenes of them dancing, sitting in the rain in the cafe, the other cleaners on the stairs… I want to see it again now. Rewatching L’Argent recently, I found it had more resonance than ever given the financial meltdown and the relationship money now has in our lives. It is in that early 1980s style that hasn’t yet become retro-fashionable, and gets entirely, oddly, awkwardly and defiantly straight to the point. Djibril Diop Mambéty was way ahead of his time and died too soon. His classy stylish film Touki Bouki is unique in the canon of African cinema. Hip and dreamlike, this Dakarois Easy Rider set to the sound of Mbalax set off on what should have been a Senegalese new wave, but he tragically made too few films, and this seemed to promise things to come that never quite materialised. Pinitillie’s second film Reconstruction has a phenomenal mise en scène, with epic long-shots that move across the landscape to follow characters that interact like cascading dominos, climaxing in a devestating finale. Utterly mesmerising. I screened I Even Saw Some Happy Gypsies in Mosaiques 2005 from the BFI’s 16mm print – the geese, the feathers, the mud, the broken tv and singing in the bar and violent domestics. The film snapped several times and we sat in the dark on tenterhooks as it was taped back together – the audience whooped and cheered when it was over. Eat your heart out Kusturica. Rosi shot Salvatore Guiliano in Sicily a decade after the events depicted there, so nearly everyone in the film is doing what they did and being who they were. It’s a kind of jigsaw neorealist reconstruction that dips in and out of the present and the past. Sicilia! is the film of the book I reread the most, Elio Vittorini’s anti-fascist novel Conversations in Sicily. It’s an almost word-for-word adaptation of a story in which a man almost accidently takes the train from Milan to Sicily to see his mum, where he sits and eats sardines with her. Huillet and Straub reside on the far side of cinema, etching scenes like old masters in the Rennaissance, trying to perfect them. Their films can be hard work, but the effect of them lingers on permanently. David Perlov is the unsung hero of documentary filmmaking, and The Diary is my desert island film, covering ten years of family life, various travels and friends’ visits. The editing is phenomenal – what appears simple is almost impossible to pull off when you try it at home. This is a film to be shown to all those budding filmmakers with their mobile phones. Put them away and do it properly.

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