Ivone Margulies

Professor of Film Studies at the Film and Media department at Hunter College (City University of New York)

Voted for

Twenty Years Later1984Eduardo Coutinho
Close-up1989Abbas Kiarostami
Killer of Sheep1977Charles Burnett
SAN XIA HAO REN2006Jia Zhangke
HELIU1997Tsai Ming-liang
La Règle du jeu1939Jean Renoir
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles1975Chantal Akerman
Opening Night1977John Cassavetes
Au hasard Balthazar1966Robert Bresson
Fear Eats the Soul1974Rainer Werner Fassbinder


Twenty Years Later

1984 Brazil

A marker of social and self-reflexive cinema, Twenty Years Later registers Brazilian history from the coup d'etat to the transition into democracy. It also highlights the shifts in Brazilian social cinema – from denunciation to personal testimony. Cinema and its history become imbricated with the rural and political fights of the 60s and their consequences for the family of the peasant league leader.


1989 Iran

The complicity between filmmaker and his subject Hossain Sabjian is defined through the purely filmic title and strategy connoting the trial of truth that cinema can be.

Killer of Sheep

1977 USA

Quite simply one of the most poignant and poetic films of all times.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

1975 Belgium, France

Redefining cinematic duration, Akerman masterfully structures and designs her protagonist's sense of control and entropy.

Opening Night

1977 USA

In one of his richest films on fall and regeneration, Cassavetes maps the romantic vision of an actor. Theatre and its physicality are transmuted into a cinema that is both fantastic and existential.

Au hasard Balthazar

1966 France, Sweden

This bold ode to humanity's vices is, of all Bresson's films, his greatest.

Fear Eats the Soul

1974 Federal Republic of Germany

Fassbinder's dry melodramatic parable is the unsurpassable model for social exposé in cinema.

Further remarks

How difficult this simple exercise of listing can be! Many of the films I've chosen are by makers whose other films I am also passionate about. Other titles I'd like to have included – Serras da Desordem (Andrea Tonacci, 2007); Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004); S21: the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (Rithy Panh, 2001); The Human Pyramid ( Jean Rouch, 1959); The Gospel According to Matthew (Pasolini,1964); Hallelujah (King Vidor, 1929); Tarnished Agels ( Douglas Sirk, 1957); 36 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis, 2008.)