Sophie Mayer

Critic; academic, King's College, London


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Atanarjuat The Fast Runner

Zacharius Kunuk



Derek Jarman

Gleaners & I, The


Agnès Varda

Harlan County, USA


Barbara Kopple

Hour of the Furnaces, The


Octavio Getino/Fernando E. Solanas

King Lear


Grigori Kozintsev

Meshes of the Afternoon


Maya Deren/Alexander Hammid

My Own Private Idaho


Gus van Sant



Sally Potter

Portrait of Ga


Margaret Tait


This is a personal canon of films that brilliantly push at the limits of cinema, formally, aesthetically, narratively and philosophically. Each film marks an important moment in both film and cultural history, still fresh and alive on the screen both because their inventions in the medium still seem wild, uncopied and almost unassimilable, and because each film is still vivid with its engagement with its own political moment. They are passion projects, made on or beyond the margins of industrial cinema, films that (can therefore) surface stories that were previously untold and engage the viewer in the ethics of the telling, all the time while answering through form, light, sound, framing, word and gesture to Emily Dickinson’s assertion: “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”

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