Emeritus professor in global cinema
|Jean-Pierre Dikongué Pipa
|Fear Eats the Soul
|Rainer Werner Fassbinder
|La terra trema
|Zhang Yimou, Yang Fengliang
A film that dispenses with 'the gaze' and gives legitimacy to looking at the reality of women's lives for what they are.
The superb acting of David Endene in this minimalist drama of weak and helpless people has been kept out of sight for decades. African cinema at its best.
Fear Eats the Soul
Perhaps the most powerful film ever made shows the destructive role of social convention and fear in a contemporary context that is stratified by gender, race and age.
The best film ever – in terms of narrative and emotion.
La terra trema
The quintessential and original film of Italian neorealism – and a primer in docufiction – which defines all the others in this tradition.
A grim anti-utopian prophecy of a post-totalitarian and post-nuclear world of desolation and existential wanderings.
The most meaningful use of colour in cinema. An Asian chamber tragedy that sets the scene for the advent of East Asian sensibilities in mainstream Western film.
Sublime colourful playfulness and supernatural elements combined in a captivating narrative of desire.
Masculinity defined through the female gaze, a milestone film.
Austere surrealist masterpiece of persecution and martyrdom, in the Holocaust and beyond.
My reservations about cinematic list-making in general are many. It is an exercise that ultimately works to preserve a status quo. Still, being invited to contribute to Sight and Sound’s critics poll of the decade (for a third time), I feel compelled to respond – not least because I imagine l am speaking for facets of critical opinion that are likely underrepresented.
It is not clear to me how the list of those polled is compiled. I imagine I will be one of the few born in an East European country (perhaps the only one from my native country), and one of the few who has a knowledge of film that goes beyond Western cinema. As an academic I recognise this group is likely to be smaller than the group of critics and film professionals polled. As a woman, I suppose I wil again be in a minority, since the number of women polled is likely to be fewer than the number of men. It would be worthwhile, therefore, to see some discussion of how you construct the polling pool – and perhaps outline in what direction things are moving this time around, in 2022 – at the same time that you publish the summary results.
I would have liked to contribute to other polls that S&S has organised in recent years, specifically the one about films directed by women and the one on documentary. These are two areas where I have a vast knowledge of film history which could benefit the overall results in terms of diversification and comprehensiveness. I would appreciate it if you included me in such polls in the future.
As a contributor to various other international critical polls, most notably those on Asian cinema carried out by the Busan IFF, I thought of bringing to your attention their recent approach, which not only asked for a vote for a Top 10 in general, but had two concurrent polls, for the Top 10 of the last decade and the Top 10 films directed by women. Surely there are pros and cons to such approaches, but I think it worked well in the end, especially in arranging the women-directed films vote and publishing the results in a book.
The 2022 poll takes place at a time when Russia has attacked an independent country and leads an imperial war of attrition in Ukraine. There have been voices demanding a boycott Russian cinema, and indeed there is logic to the request, as it opens up avenues for post-colonial reassessment of imperial legacies. I would be interested to see how the current situation will affect the standing of Russian cinema, which in the pasthas always had solid position in the results of the Sight and Sound decennial polls.
This summer I have been discovering – to my astonishment–- remarkable masterpieces of Ukrainian cinema that have remained in the shadow of Russian-controlled circulation of Soviet cinema for many decades. If you are interested, do ask me to write about some of these films for your audience.