Boris Nelepo

film critic, programmer

Voted for

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir1947Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Tender Years2000Sergei Solovyov
Letter of Introduction1938John M. Stahl
OBLOMOK IMPERII1929Friedrich Ermler
DUPE OD MRAMORA1995Zelimir Zilnik
Heimat - Eine Chronik in elf Teilen (Heimat: A Chronicle of Germany)1984Edgar Reitz
KE TU CHIU HEN1990Ann Hui On-Wah
Rich and Famous1981George Cukor
Beskonechnost (Infinitas)1992Marlen Khutsiev
Sosialismi (Socialism)2014Peter von Bagh


This list doesn't pretend to reflect "objective" history of cinema (whatever that means, does it really exist?). The films I included are those films which accompany my life and make it meaningful. It was not only me who watched them obsessively, but also they have been witnessing me, ageing and changing, but always returning to them.

Peter von Bagh, cineaste, film historian and cinephile, was among those people who taught me the most of the things I know about cinema. Rereading my list, I could notice how much I am influenced by his fascination with the 20th century – the century of cinema and world wars, beauty and poverty, generosity and cruelty, humanism and countless atrocities.

In this little film programme of mine Infinitas and Fragment of an Empire launch this century, showing the transition of times. Heimat, Infinitas, Song of the Exile are key films to convey the sense of history, its weight (sometimes it is unbearable for a human being). Therefore, Sosialismi is a bitter farewell to the century of dreams and utopias.

There are a lot of possible options in the filmography of Želimir Žilnik, but in current tragic circumstances the choice was obvious. Marble Ass is one of the greatest films in the history about the war. It was made in the fresh footsteps of a massacre, but the director made a deliberate decision not to show sensational and manipulative images of blood and suffering, but rather to show what any war really means: black hope, destruction, despair, and the loss of any meaning.

What can I say about The Gentle Age? It is the film I have rewatched more than anything else in the world. Sergey Solovyev left us last year. I was lucky to work for a few years with the person thanks to whom I discovered cinema truly for the first time in my life, when I was still a child, not even a teenager. It was truly surprising to find myself later in a sequel of sorts to The Gentle Age, which my life became at a certain point (but this is not a place for personal memoirs, please forgive me for a digression).

Rich and Famous has such tenderness and human warmth, that it is simply the film that helps me to live. A farewell film by George Cukor which itself proves how much melancholy could be contained in "the last film" of the master, who worked for decades and suddenly found himself in a totally different world – modern world that rejects him – but he humbly continues to do what he knows best and nobody else knows his secret.

Finally, if there is a film in my personal canon, then it would be The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. If there is one thing that Mankiewicz taught me and that led me to change my relationship with cinema (which also means, with life), it is to believe in ghosts – which every actor in every film becomes sooner or later. Since then, I always believe in the characters of my favourite films, and I always think that I can get back together with them, like with old friends; I believe in them as if they were real people. Joseph L. Mankiewicz proved just how blurry the line between life and art really is; when we die, we turn into fiction and simply continue to live in other people’s stories.