Didi Cheeka

Film Archivist

Voted for

Citizen Kane1941Orson Welles
Battleship Potemkin1925Sergei M. Eisenstein
Touki Bouki1973Djibril Diop Mambéty
Mandabi1968Ousmane Sembène
Sciuscià1946Vittorio De Sica
Aguirre, Wrath of God1972Werner Herzog
The Battle of Algiers1966Gillo Pontecorvo
Roma città aperta1945Roberto Rossellini
ULTIMO TANGO A PARIGI1972Bernardo Bertolucci
Fires on the Plain1959Kon Ichikawa


Citizen Kane

1941 USA

I've often felt that, of the two, Touch of Evil was the better film; however, for that innovative, self-conscious artistry exploring ambition and failure, I settle for Kane.

Battleship Potemkin

1925 USSR

…especially, that Odessa step sequence from the master of montage – a revolutionary revelation of what cinema could be…

Touki Bouki

1973 Senegal

That most beautiful of cinema love scenes: the hand holding passionately to the motorcycle handlebar as the waves crash erotically, orgasmically against the rocks – and for that avant-garde punk-rock feel…


1968 Senegal, France

One of cinema's most powerful scenes is the whipping scene in Moolaade – in Xala, too, there is that scene where society's outcasts gather to spit on the politician; but I nominate this movie, for its importance to cinema in Africa, and also for its marriage of political commentary with Imperfect Cinema.


1946 Italy

De Sica makes the camera and the screen disappear and shows you reality humanely, tenderly – but I've never found the courage to see this film a second time: that last scene with the boy crying breaks your heart.

Aguirre, Wrath of God

1972 Federal Republic of Germany

I had programmed this as the last film in the Goethe-Institut Lagos's Herzog retrospective. As the night deepened, in the absence of the Institut's director, the programme officer kept coming to whisper in my ear to end the film. What – stop Kinski halfway? Way out in the front, I thought the silence behind me meant the audience had left. But, no: Ines' chilling, silent walk into the dark forest to whatever fate had rendered them silent – and there's that final moment when Aguirre holds his dying daughter with the camera swirling overhead...

The Battle of Algiers

1966 Italy, Algeria

…afterwards, you realise you're not watching newsreel photography but staged reality – I took offence when an American researcher into Nollywood, that international academic moniker for the Nigerian movie industry, referenced this film in connection with the sectarian terror group in Nigeria's desert fringe: I mean, what has the struggle of the FLN got to do with Boko Haram?

Roma città aperta

1945 Italy

…the terrible beauty of Italian neo-realist cinema…


1972 Italy, France, USA

…Brando… simply the best…

Fires on the Plain

1959 Japan

The fear of what humanity could become – do they still make films like this?

Further remarks

…but… of course… great films are necessarily absent from this list: Casablanca; Apocalypse Now; Nosferatu; The Godfather…