|Wings of Desire
|Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould
|Nostalgia for the Light
|JONAS QUI AURA 25 ANS EN L'AN 2000
|Wendy and Lucy
|Christine Molloy, Joe Lawlor
|All This Can Happen
|Siobhan Davies and David Hinton
Without question the most important film I saw in my childhood - in my cavernous hometown single screen cinema aged nine - one that taught me, without me knowing it, about the environmental crisis, consumerism, the potency of collective illusion and inherited myth (and how to resist it), the power of youth and of age, desire, possible futures, the marginalised and much else. A huge vision, smuggled into a compelling high concept vehicle. We must acknowledge the novel it came from, as with so many films of the 1970s that told us about the world we were making (eg The Man Who Fell to Earth).
That this was broadcast directly into millions of homes and minds at peak time remains miraculous to me. Surely it is the most radically interventionist television film (or 'play for today') ever made, one that concentrated and layered the numerous identities of England into a single compelling and poetic statement that stretched from the personal to the deep past. Only recently has it been accepted as a defining work in our culture. It was always thus. David Rudkin is one of our greatest writers and this transmits his abiding concerns brilliantly. Alan Clarke delivered what was written with such skill it will remain forever relevant.
Wings of Desire
Wenders' Paris, Texas transformed my sense of what cinema could be when I saw it HUGE in London on a solo teenage day trip but this remains my key document of what I imagined the poetic, romantic life might be. Handke's script, Alekan's cinematography, Berlin's presence, Knieper's music, and the pitch-perfect casting – Dommartin, Falk, Ganz – combined with Wenders' understanding of the place, time, and implication of its making to create a genuine dream of cinema. Speaking on stage with Bruno Ganz just months before his death was an honour and a form of unimaginable wish-fulfilment.
Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould
A beautifully sensitive homage to a remarkable life and work that continues to invigorate me through its brilliant formal invention – cinema can be whatever works, and the secret to its success is often hiding in plain sight, inside its subject or theme.
A staggering work, matched only by Tarr's own The Turin Horse, which rides his vision to its natural conclusion, but it is the heartbreaking humanity in this one that floors me every time. All elements cohere. Mihály Vig's music must be central to any praise, but we can never forget László Krasznahorkai's original text – without whom… – the title of which ('The Melancholy of Resistance') is surely one of the greatest ever phrased in any medium.
Nostalgia for the Light
This is for me the greatest film made in this century / millennium to date and a total work of art that surely both transforms and confirms the viewer in their sense of the power and relevance of art as well as the necessity to tell the truth of experience, as experienced personally and collectively at the same moment. I am in awe of its understanding of life and its meanings.
JONAS QUI AURA 25 ANS EN L'AN 2000
Released in the same year as Logan's Run, and in a kind of conversation with it, without either knowing: here is the warmest ensemble drama about trying to make a better world that one could wish for. Flawed people do what they can and we love them in their stumbling struggle. It is one of its writer John Berger's most compelling works, and wonderfully humane evidence of why readers don't just admire his work but love it, and him too for his example.
Wendy and Lucy
THE film of precarity – one slip or moment of bad luck and life with all its humble hopes can unravel. There is not a step wrong in this everyday tale of overlooked lives given universal resonance.
The essay film that reinvents essay film – a witty and truly insightful joy that repays endless viewing and reminds us how worlds can be made out of any and every life, with its dreams and hopes, successes and losses. Made for next to nothing, it's close to the stars in its reach.
All This Can Happen
By any measure this film is unexpected: a wondrously textured reading of Robert Walser's life-in-a-day tale 'The Walk' via the earliest found images in cinema, choreographed to the pulse of life and love and loss – and everything in between – with every member of the creative team working at the peak of their skills. It shows life and IS life, in every flickering flame: a dance of delight that enthrals and inspires.
An impossible task, as we know! And also with a certain sense of guilt do I select any films at all, given that this very morning I read So Mayer's remarkable text on films that don't yet exist but should: possible films, necessary films, works for the future we wish and need urgently to make.
That said, choose I did, and entirely personally. Given the welcome toppling of any single 'canon' in recent years, and given that, with all the crises we face, things appear to be more vulnerable than ever, I could only choose those films that have stayed with me and informed not only my sense of cinema but also of life and its meanings and potential; in short, hope, as all those I chose refuse despair.
So much is left out, of course. No Akomfrah, Anderson, Angelopoulos, Costa, Denis, Jarman, Leone, Loach, Lynch, Reygadas, Roeg, Tarkovsky, Watkins. No Brakhage, Brothers Quay, Deren, Kieślowski, Parajanov, Pelechian, Pasolini, Rudolph, Švankmajer. No 'A Ghost Story', 'Beasts of the Southern Wild', 'Black Sun', 'Dance of Dust', 'Free Solo', 'Ghost Town Anthology', 'Horse Thief', 'I Heard it Through the Grapevine', 'O Lucky Man!', 'Piravi', 'Pirosmani', 'Simple Men', 'Spongers', 'Toutes les nuits'; no 'Powers of Ten' by Ray and Charles Eames. No makers I have been directly involved in production with: Andrea Luka Zimmerman and her poem-parables of power and resistance, of truly ecological co-existence; or Grant Gee, with the haunting hall of mirrors that is 'Patience (After Sebald)', Jem Cohen, Dryden Goodwin, Andrew Kotting, Ben Rivers…
And so many hundreds more.
The selection also reflects the world I grew up in and into: few women filmmakers, and no makers of colour whom I could encounter at formative moments beyond my control. That said, my understanding of cinema and what it can do now extends far, far beyond what is chosen, and I hope also appreciates that such makers are not only the future of cinema on any planet that remains viable, but also much of its obscured past also, constantly resurfacing, remaking, revisioning what can and must be shown and told.