Film Director and Writer
|In the Mood for Love
|Wong Kar Wai
|Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
|A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
|Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
|The Band's Visit
|2001: A Space Odyssey
In the Mood for Love
A masterpiece in formalism. Colour, light, texture, score, composition and performance are intricately sewn together to form a quietly flamboyant silk dress of a film that comes alive when the light catches its detail and vibrancy. Utterly enchanting.
A mountain of a film. When you reach the top – tired, bruised, head spinning from the altitude – you look around and suddenly realise it was all worth it. A giant of cinema. A profound and sustaining inspiration for filmmakers the world over.
For me the best American film in decades. A blend of delicate, formalistic, arthouse cinema and visceral American movie-making that manages to be intimate and epic at the same time – the sweet spot. Nicholas Britell’s score is a seminal slam dunk. How many times have I heard those dissonant strings since? Irresistible.
Socially and historically indispensable. A film that the world needed then, needs now, and will need forever. It gives us insight into a unique moment in contemporary global politics. It captures the human cost of imperialism, revolution and a scarily changing tide but it engages, entertains and makes us smile. Simply wonderful.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Undeniable. Roy Andersson is one of the most unique filmmakers the world has ever seen. From his process to his body of work he is completely singular in what he does. A true auteur. A master of his art and another director that made me want to make films. An inspiration. I chose Pigeon over, say, You, the Living for emotional reasons. I saw it at TIFF with a full house. Roy was there for the Q&A. I rubbed shoulders with him at the Scandi party afterwards but I was too shy and star struck to say anything.
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
A film that demonstrates the breadth of what a film can be. It challenges the idea of what film is and how we receive or interact with films as an audience. It is an iconic piece of work and a touchstone of global arthouse cinema. Essential viewing. A film that is as much studied as watched.
Impossibly delicious. I could eat every frame. A film that is both epically cinematic but felt deeply. Intimate and heartbreaking but sumptuous to look at. Masterful directing that exudes effortless precision. I wish I could have seen this film in the cinema.
The Band's Visit
A forever favourite of mine. One that made me want to be a filmmaker. Perhaps not a big hitter in the way that some of the others on this list are but for me this film is perfect for what it wants to be. Sweet, utterly charming and profoundly human. It is a deeply satisfying watch. I could watch Sasson Gabai, Saleh Bakri and the late Ronit Elkabetz forever.
A Separation is a deeply alluring and powerful film. It formed a shift in the landscape of Iranian film as a globally acclaimed export and a step away from the seductive classical Iranian New Wave canon characterised by allegory and ambiguity. It gifts a broad global audience a view into the complexities of life within the context of the unique and challenging cultural and sociopolitical backdrop of Iran’s theocratic state, but it is neither didactic or forceful in its approach. It is a film full of grace and humanity and one that has always stayed with me.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Yup. It had to be done. A cultural phenomenon. A technological feat that still looks just as good if not better than most space-set blockbusters these days. A cinematic feast. Allegorical and ambiguous filmmaking at its best. A film that is also prescient in its discourse as it becomes clear that our continued technological advancement will either be what destroys humanity or saves it. Kubrick left it open for us to choose optimism or pessimism. I know which one I’m going for.
Ultimately, this is an impossible task, but I see its value. Great fun. Frustrating that I can't put more films in there. These are all films that mean something to me personally. Films that have influenced, inspired and challenged me. Films that I feel either stand or will stand the test of time. These are films that are alive and have either grown over the years to be old, wise and majestic in their greatness or, if more recent, their greatness comes from their youth – the ability to continue pushing the boundaries of the cinematic form.
All of these films have made me feel something. I think that is the greatest achievement of film. To challenge, inform, entertain, excite, thrill, make you laugh or cry, to escape, to push the boundaries of cinematic form (whatever that is) but ultimately, to make us feel. To stay with us because of how a film made you feel. All of these films have stayed with me and I'm pretty sure I'll be carrying them around for years to come.