Fatma Zohra Zamoum


Voted for

Rashomon1950Akira Kurosawa
DEVI1960Satyajit Ray
The Seventh Seal1957Ingmar Bergman
XALA1975Ousmane Sembène
Closely Observed Trains1966Jirí Menzel
Man with a Movie Camera1929Dziga Vertov
Mean Streets1973Martin Scorsese
Calendar1993Atom Egoyan
U-Carmen ekhayelitsha2005Mark Dornford-May
Tahia Ya Didou1971Mohamed Zinet



1950 Japan

Rashomon, based on novels by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, deals with justice and storytelling. What is justice and how can the truth be discovered? Multiple testimonies, even one by a dead person, make the truth difficult to find. Each point of view is shown with a great consideration and detail – from light, to wind, to desire, to greed, to social context – and all are relevant.

The movie was not a big budget production but still one of the most beautiful movies of it kind. I will forever be a fan of Mifune Toshirō. As Kurosawa Akira is one of the greatest directors of our times, I could have named Dreams or The Seven Samurai or Ran or Stray Dog, but Rashomon is a must watch.


1960 India

This movie is based on a novel that I have not read yet, but I saw this movie as a teenager, and as a film that combines personal and religious aspects it was a choice for me.

Having seeing all of the director’s movies, even if I admire The Chess Players, The Apu Trilogy and The Music Room, I feel like Devi is an all-time great movie for its depiction of women's condition.

And I am a fan of Sharmila Tagore and Sumitra Chartterjee and Satayajit Ray, of course.

The Seventh Seal

1957 Sweden

This is the only movie I know that refers with great emphasis to the Crusades, and it came from Sweden, from a director that is more interested in relationships between men and women than historical subjects.

Even if I love Persona or Fanny and Alexander or Wild Strawberries or Cries and Whispers or Autumn Sonata more, I think that the The Seventh Seal is worthy of its position in this top ten.

And I am fan of Max von Sydow and the other actors Ingmar Bergman worked with.

What a difficult subject!


1975 Senegal

In Wolof, Xala means bad luck sent by a sorcerer.

This movie is based on a novel by the director himself, edited in 1973, and it is still little seen worldwide.

This is the only movie I know from an African director that discusses political leadership in Africa, as well as corruption, values, beliefs and destiny.

The final spitting sequence is one of the most powerful and disgusting sequences I have ever seen in cinema.

This movie needs to be considered as an important part of cinema history.

Closely Observed Trains

1966 Czechoslovakia

A movie full of humour and poetry, even if it is dealing with the dramatic historical events of World War Two.

The story of Closely Watched Trains is told by a young man who has a history with trains as a family tradition.

I loved the novel first and then the movie.

I still remember the movie and novel from the 90s and still consider it a top ten film.

Man with a Movie Camera

1929 Ukrainian SSR, USSR

Before Dziga Vertov, no one has explored life in documentary cinema through the lens and editing. If I consider what life is versus cinema, I can’t ignore the his contribution. So here is a tribute to Man with a Movie Camera or L'Homme à la caméra or whatever.

Mean Streets

1973 USA

I discovered this movie by chance on DVD, after watching many of Martin Scorsese’s movies, and Taxi Driver 20 times in the theatre. I expected to be told by the main character: ‘Hey you, you must love this movie and come back to see it again and again!’ At that time I was like the main character in Woody’s Allen Purple Rose of Cairo.

Anyway, when I discovered Mean Streets, I discovered a way of life, a new friendship, a moment of cinema. The cinema of Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel needs to be remembered.


1993 Canada, Germany, Armenia

A fiction of personal, historical and professional dimensions.

If you are a non-Armenian-speaking director willing to understand what was happening between your girlfriend and the Armenian guide while you were shooting churches in Armenia for Calendar, you need to review your relationship with foreign languages.

Perfect storytelling and a perfect narrative.

This movie is one of the most important during my time as an upcoming director in the 90s; it is also one of the first movies made in Armenia after its independence.

A must-see movie, full of humour.

U-Carmen ekhayelitsha


After watching several movies adapted from Bizet’s opera Carmen, two of them remained in my mind; Carlos Saura’s 1983 version and this unexpected one: U-Carmen eKhayelitsha.

This Carmen is a fat Black woman from a township in South Africa.

I admire the idea, the audacity, the performance; it is one of my best movies ever.

Tahia Ya Didou


This movie is a poetic exploration of Algiers in the 70s, the kind of movie that you don't expect from Algeria because it is fresh and full of innocence – like a movie by Jacques Tati or Charlie Chaplin. Of course, it is a picture of the city of Algiers, but with grace.

The movie was supposed to be a kind of touristic promotion of Algiers, granted by the city, but then became one of the most iconic movies of the country.

I can mention Himoud Braham who is the poet on the shore, El Anka, the master of Algerian music performing, George Arnaud, the novelist appearing as a Suisse tourist and the opening music by Michel Portal. A gem to discover!

Further remarks

Because it is difficult for me as a film director and a cinema lover to name just ten movies from cinema worldwide, I had to consider a method.

The first category will be difficult subjects or philosophical subjects in fiction (I could have included in this category Fahrenheit 451 by François Truffaut, The Trial by Orson Welles, Dogville by Lars von Trier; but no room)

The second one is a mix between political statements and/or a picture of the time and/or a personal statement, and this category could have been extended as well (The Passenger by Antonioni, La Règle du jeu by Renoir, Stagecoach by John Ford, Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee, Missing by Costa Gavras, etc.). And this category includes gems from very famous directors and less known ones.

And to end the top ten I added two movies that I love for personal reasons only (this category could have included Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair, Paheli by Amol Palekar, An Angel at My Table by Jane Campion, The Man with the Golden Arm by Otto Preminger, El Haimoune by Nacer Khemir, The Mummy by Shadi Abdessalam, Bless Their Little Hearts by Billy Woodburry, Close to Eden by Nikita Mikhalkov and so many others).

So I voted, and hope you will discover movies with this ballot.

Fatma Zohra Zamoum

October 2022