Dana Linssen

film critic

Voted for

Sans Soleil1982Chris Marker
The Gleaners and I2000Agnès Varda
Raymond Tallis On Tickling2017Johan Grimonprez
Daisies1966Věra Chytilová
HYÈNES1992Djibril Diop Mambéty
The Mermaids, or: Aiden in Wonderland2018The Karrabing Film Collective
Petite maman2021Céline Sciamma
Werckmeister Harmonies2000Béla Tarr
The Ascent1976Larissa Shepitko
Sleepcinemahotel2018Apichatpong Weerasethakul


Sans Soleil

1982 France

We have to see to remember, we have to remember to be, we have to pick up the empty bottles that history has thrown out of the window. Sometimes just to see how the light is scattered through its surface or reflected in its broken glass, sometimes to recycle (reimagine) or repurpose them. But mostly to see how time is so much more than only time, and place is so much more than only place, when and if we are attentive.

The Gleaners and I

2000 France

Agnès Varda is one of the most curious, creative, and innovative (and always self-renewing) filmmakers of the past hundred years. Les glaneurs et la glaneuse is a poetic road movie about the way we create images while being in the world, how looking is an act of finding, both in a personal, monadic way, and in a cosmological, nomadic one. But the film also speaks about the way we maybe disregard our natural environment, how to care for the margins (of the frame) and the marginal (as a space of radical resistance), but always playful, witty, flashing back and forth between the small and the large at philosophical lightning speed. Varda’s self-portrait is like a mirror to our lives. And to our own ways of looking.

Raymond Tallis On Tickling

2017 Belgium

A film that opens doors to other films by visual artist, film maker, thinker Johan Grimonprez – Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1997), of course, and Shadow World (2016) – works that speak and see the violence of moving image industries, that connect cinema histories with other histories, of surveillance and military. And then there is this poet and philosopher, in what is maybe just an outtake of Shadow World, but in a way also a lens to understand how we can counter that shadow world, who speaks in a modest and gentle way about how consciousness is always relational. We are because we dialogue. We see each other because we exist in the same world. Cinema as a tickling of the senses and the brain.


1966 Czechoslovakia

Film history created and procreated many rebellious daughters after Marie and Marie cut up the world for us and put it back together in different orders, with different angles. Rebellious, fun, innovative, dangerously colourful, politically surrealist. There is always a moment of loss (and having the trust to lose yourself) in ecstasy.


1992 Switzerland, France, Senegal, United Kingdom, Netherlands

Based on a play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt and reimagined through the lens of the broader ranges of ‘third cinema’, this social and mythical allegory of an old lady returning to the village of her youth, after having become very wealthy, only to be met by a band of greedy fellow villagers who all want to take advantage of her fortune, portrays a society willing to sacrifice its ideals and loyalties for prosperity. Or in the words of the old lady herself: "Life has made me a whore, and now I'm making the world a brothel." Capitalism, colonialism, extraction in a nutshell.

The Mermaids, or: Aiden in Wonderland


We need a cinema that speaks about our times, that helps us understand why we otherwise would turn away from the spectacle of news and actualities or indulge in it without much curiosity or resistance. This short film might be labelled as an example of ‘indigenous futurism’, but more importantly is directed by a collective, just like the collective of voices and stories it envelops and situates in a parallel existence of times, or rather ‘dreamings’, which are recollected in one of the most powerful films I have seen about the way we exhaust our natural environment, and lose touch with who we are because we destroy the earth. The burning land is exhausted by mining, petroleum production and fracking but I have heard the mermaids singing. Intoxicating in many ways.

Petite maman

2021 France

I love time-travel films, and films that transcend and redeem time, because as a time-based medium and art, time is cinema’s raw material. Time and light. I could have put uncountable films here that are spectacular and paradoxical. But then there was this film that I watched during an online festival screening during a lockdown and a pandemic, and then I went out and took a walk in the nearby forest, where somehow that same hut made out of branches materialised. Sometimes images from films travel into a nearby physical world. Cinema is about bodies too, about presence, even if there is absence. In this film every time-travel machine is present, space, location, production design, cinematography, and the being next to each other of two young girls who finally found someone to share a secret with. Like cinema shares its secrets with us. And we keep them.

Werckmeister Harmonies

2000 Hungary, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy

Once again thinking about the angry mobs that appear in our streets. Like ghosts. But their violence is real. Driven by the pull of the darkness. Do we understand the nocturnal, the clandestine, the lie, the hidden, by obscuring them even more, or by daring to look into them, into the cinema dark? We are so used to looking at the 20th century through the lens of cinema, but this film, made at the intersection of two centuries, remembers a future too.

The Ascent

1976 USSR

A war film seen through the eyes of a female filmmaker, in a history dominated by men. One could think about all the male and female qualities the two protagonists hold and unfold. And about the final choice: loyalty or betrayal. Pregnant with meaning and heavy symbolism. For me the film was a recent discovery, a visually stunning and disturbing descent and one that I like to study more in the years to come, like the landscapes of the faces of the two leading figures. And then time will tell if there is faith in the image.



The relations between sleep, cinema and dream are a returning theme in the works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul. They are like the strata of reality, layers of perceiving, where the speculative and the oneiric carry the same importance as the scientific and the philosophical. sleepcinemahotel was both a film projection and an interactive audiovisual experience, in which the visitors (sleepers, dreamer, insomniacs) were the players in a night-long experimental play. A co-production of sorts between the dreamers and the images from the archives of the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. A form of fleeting and fluid live cinema. An invitation to more collective dreaming. Perhaps. It was projected. It was reproduced. And now it is a memory. But it was a film too.

Further remarks

This list is not a list, insofar as lists imply hierarchy and ranking.

The films assembled here are a collection, they are like the windows in a dream house that all in their own way open up to horizons for possible future cinemas, to other films, by the same directors, or by others with whom these films are communicating.

More than a list of ‘greatness’, I hope it is a selection of humbleness. These are all films that were important for me in the last decade, as a film professional, a critic, a teacher, a writer, a thinker, an activist. They shaped me and my work, so this compilation could not be more honest and intimate, and yet a declaration of my firm belief in this fleeting thing that is the moving image.

I want to take them into the future, I feel an urge to return to them, not to carve them into the tombstones of the past.

They speak about time and science, about connection, about inequality, about the disasters that we are imposing on our planet and our fellow beings, and yet they are not without hope. Cinema right now should be observant to the many worlds inside and around us, and responsible to its own image production.

We live in such media-oversaturated times that they call out for an examination of cinema, the cinematic image, the cinematic medium itself. What is the function of cinema and moving images in this world, how do they help us understand that world and ourselves, and how does cinema deal with the times we are living in?

Whether cinema is a door or a window, a skin or a veil, one might only hope that it opens, clears, feeds, challenges, provokes, shocks, soothes the eye, the gaze, outward or inward. I love the escapist qualities of cinema, its solace. But I hope the films that I suggest here, that I want to watch with you, whoever stranger you are, out there, out of the bubbles and the rumbles, will be the start of a conversation.