Loreta Gandolfi

Affiliated Lecturer in Film, University of Cambridge; Film Curator & Film Critic

Voted for

Killer of Sheep1977Charles Burnett
The House Is Black1962Forough Farokhzad
Mother and Son1997Aleksandr Sokurov
Ratcatcher1999Lynne Ramsay
Vortex2021Gaspar Noé
The Death of Louis XIV2016Albert Serra
The Seventh Seal1957Ingmar Bergman
Metamorphosis of Birds2020Catarina Vasconcelos
Ten Canoes2006Rolf de Heer



1975 Italy

I find extraordinary Lina Wertmüller's creative gaze in her film set between the 1930s and the immediate end of the Second World War, as it bitingly traces a nation's moral decadence and intellectual inertia.

Giancarlo Giannini's interpretation of Pasqualino is phenomenally rich and nuanced in conveying, throughout the film's complex intermix of genres and registers, the protagonist's proud apolitical stance, his belief in an abstract idea of 'code of honour' and in the fight for his own survival - the essential constituents of the tragedies of war and the Holocaust.

Killer of Sheep

1977 USA

Killer of Sheep left me speechless when I first watched it, and it still does: to the present day, I find myself unable to articulate its impact on my emotional and rational encounter with it.

The House Is Black

1962 Iran

Visual poetry at its most daring.

Mother and Son

1997 Germany, Russian Federation

A most lyrical tale of love between mother and son.


1999 United Kingdom, France

The film amazes me in its multi-layered artistic performance and moving concern with children's welfare, where the world of fantasy and the reality of the child are so persuasively enmeshed into one other.


2021 France, Monaco, Belgium

Vortex is a tour de force where the brutality of the illness the protagonist suffers of is enhanced by the way her own husband and son relate to her: split, physically and fundamentally, emotionally.

The Death of Louis XIV

2016 France, Portugal, Spain

Visually spectacular, Albert Serra's compelling artistic imagination proposes a contemplative exploration of King Louis IV’s last days. The sophisticated orchestration of the camera work and of the melancholic rhythm of the scenes turns our viewing into a hallucinatory practice of mortality. Jean Pierre-Léaud – a King in his own terms, within and outside of the film’s diegesis – immobilises us in his resignation in face of the cycle of life.

The Seventh Seal

1957 Sweden

"This is my hand, I can move it… My blood gushes in it. The sun is still high in the sky. And I… I, Antonius Block… am playing chess with Death" (Antonius Block smiles vigorously).

Whenever I have to go back to The Seventh Seal for work purposes, I always fall into the same trap: I watch the extract that I need, and then I go back to the opening sequence, - 'just the opening sequence' I tell myself and, inevitably, I watch it entirely, once again. I find untiringly powerful the film’s utter humanity and honesty as it faces the timeless existential question about the meaning of our lives.

Metamorphosis of Birds


Catarina Vasconcelos masterfully brings together images of the natural world and images of those who are no longer – and yet are and will be ever-present – in an oneiric journey that evokes the filmmaker’s perception of her family's history as much as of her original proposition of the aural and visual experience of cinema.

Ten Canoes

2006 Australia

Ten Canoes is a striking example of the fecundity of the coexistence of different cultures across time and space. An achievement of levitas as if springing out from the comedy styles of Plautus and Terence, the film is an epic of Aboriginal life auspiciously told in the first person.

Further remarks

This is a most beautiful and most damning task simultaneously, for such a young art has produced so many masterpieces that even a list of a few hundred would be a serious challenge. The history of cinema is the history of humanity, told in the most creative, diverse ways.

So many artists are in my mind, whose works have been cited in the polls over the past decades, within the top ten or top 100, and several others who are not in such lists. What is my tactic in proposing this list, what do I wish to achieve: it is mix of aims where I'd like to honour some of those 'older' films which make the top 100 and also those that do not, while also introducing a 'younger' generation of films - all of which I consider to be, for their own unique qualities, immense films. I am thinking about this in terms of mothers and fathers and their offspring, where in the offspring one may see the reverberations, conscious or unconscious, of other lives, in a creative continuum - the image that comes to mind is that of a tree and its indestructible cycle of life and renewal.