Justine Peres Smith

Screen Editor, Cult MTL

Voted for

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans1927F.W. Murnau
Roma città aperta1945Roberto Rossellini
The Red Shoes1948Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
La notte1961Michelangelo Antonioni
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles1975Chantal Akerman
Crash1996David Cronenberg
As I Was Moving Ahead, Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty2000Jonas Mekas
In the Mood for Love2000Wong Kar Wai
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes1953Howard Hawks


I don't know what makes the greatest films of all time. I can only speak to what I see as artists that use the medium to explore possibilities and limits. Cinema is a technological medium shaped as much by the tools and evolutions in technology as the artists' imagination. In most film schools, students are taught that the labour and technological costs inherent to the medium require something most of them don't have: both money and influence. To make a Hollywood film, you need a Hollywood budget. They're not wrong, of course, but why would you want to make a Hollywood film?

Films that explore limits and possibilities are essential in selecting the films on my list. What filmmaker transcended the art of silent cinema? How do you make a revolutionary film under a fascist government? What is the difference between a filmmaker and a filmer? How do we imagine a future where cinema is no longer the dominant art form?

I also cared deeply for beauty and bodies. I've always been drawn to blood reds and misty dawns; Jeanne Moreau's face and Moira Shearer's dancing; The gnarled ugliness of Elia Koteas's tattooed scars, a vision for a future where man and machine become one.

My first draft did not include any films from the 21st century, but in the end, it feels as though it casts a looming shadow over my list. The more I reflected on the possibilities of the future and our accelerating world, the more it seemed integral to reflect the visions of contemporary artists exploring cinema as it transforms from its material skin (celluloid) into digital. As our bodies and minds are also changing, shaped and distorted by new technologies, our art does and should reflect that as well.