Forrest Cardamenis

Freelance Critic

Voted for

Do the Right Thing1989Spike Lee
KURUTTA IPPEIJI1926Teinosuke Kinugasa
Meshes of the Afternoon1943Maya Deren, Alexander Hackenschmied
Pyaasa1957Guru Dutt
The House Is Black1962Forough Farokhzad
Memories of Underdevelopment1968Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
The Travelling Players1975Theo Angelopoulos
Thief or Reality2001Antouanetta Angelidi
Là-bas2006Chantal Akerman


Do the Right Thing is a film about who gets to see themselves represented in public spaces (and under what conditions), so it is a fitting movie to include here amid all the unending debates about canon formulation. I have tried with this list to be as inclusive as possible, to showcase in 10 films the range of possibilities of the cinema, and of when and where that cinema can come from. Such a goal is, of course, impossible. As much as I tried, I ultimately found myself with just one avant-garde film (unless one stretches the definition to include The House Is Black and/or Thief or Reality), just two documentaries, no films from Africa (no Hyenas or Soleil O) and no films from the 1930s (no Story of the Last Chrysanthemums or Only Angels Have Wings) or the last 15 years (no Melody for a Street Organ, Tree of Life, Leviathan or La Flor).

My desire to expand the canon meant leaving off justly beloved films, including some personal favourites. At the same time, it meant not voting for favourites that I suspect would be without traction in the poll (Thief or Reality, an underseen masterpiece, is the exception; I hope its inclusion here can play some small role in convincing more people to watch and screen it). That means no Kiarostami, Welles, Antonioni, Ozu or Godard; no Vertigo, 2001, Persona, or Last Year at Marienbad; no Kalatozov, Brakhage or Ruiz. It meant making tough choices between films. Travelling Players or Landscape in the Mist? I love them equally, but ultimately decided that Angelopoulos' diminishing reputation (his films remain unavailable on Blu-ray, and in the US even DVDs require importing and a multi-region player) by throwing my weight behind his most acclaimed film.

The list of films that could have been included "on a different day," as the cliché goes, is nearly endless. To name a few more: Spring in a Small Town, Entranced Earth, Le Bonheur, F for Fake, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, The Searchers, Johnny Guitar, Mulholland Dr. and Wavelength. Ten films is only ten films, and that is not enough. I can only hope those I have selected contribute in some way toward making a greater and more inclusive canon.