Maggi Hurt

Advance Programme Co-ordinator BFI Southbank

Voted for

Heimat1984Edgar Reitz
Örökbefogadas1975Márta Mészáros
I Am Not Your Negro2016Raoul Peck
Blue1993Derek Jarman
The Passion of Joan of Arc1927Carl Th. Dreyer
Naked Spaces, Living is Round 1985Trinh T Minh-ha
Blue Black Permanent1992Margaret Tait
À bout de souffle1960Jean-Luc Godard
Death of a Nation The Timor Conspiracy1994David Munro
A Matter of Life and Death1946Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger




The original Heimat film (made in episodes but always considered a single work) shook up the notion of long-form narrative. Seeing it at Rotterdam in a very early morning slot before we started the rest of festival business became essential for an increasing number of us. Its long form, use of b&w and colour and still photography were as compelling as the narrative - every detail mattered. And still does.


1975 Hungary

Mészáros’ work always looks at difference and asks questions rather than judges. A look and gesture reveal a life-story. The value of being an active audience is enormous. Here we have an intergenerational story of female empowerment that challenges us to look beyond appearances and was very brave in challenging the politics of the time.

I Am Not Your Negro

2016 USA, France, Belgium, Switzerland

A multi-layered, incisive interrogation of Baldwin’s vision and his experience of racism, I Am not Your Negro constantly references both contemporary and historical American politics and culture. It makes clear our responsibility to inform ourselves by constantly reminding how images are manipulated - a film that warns of the power of film.


1993 United Kingdom, Japan

Unique in being screened in cinemas and simultaneously broadcast on Channel 4 and BBC Radio 3 (blue card available), this is Jarman shaking up our conventions as audience and exhibitors. It takes away the moving image. Yet it remains a film. We provide our own visuals. We interpret his words and respond to the music. Either we surrender or reject (perhaps both across its duration) but we absolutely do always respond.

The Passion of Joan of Arc

1927 France

Extraordinary close ups characterise this intense and moving silent drama that places us in the shoes of the incomparable Falconetti. Immersive. Controversial. Look and emotion tangle as rules are broken to create a new landmark of early cinema.

Naked Spaces, Living is Round


Sensuous and meditative, the form of this documentary, prioritising rhythm, sound and colour over linear narrative was a wake up for the power of alternative female voices in ethnographic documentary. It showed potential in a new way. It was mesmerising. It showed - literally - that doors could be open. Such a strong reminder that our values are not all the same and provoking our assumptions, about cinema and life.

Blue Black Permanent

1992 United Kingdom

First features can be made at any age. This is cinema as poetry, the intended result of long-term learning and the fierce independence which shines through its unorthodoxy. Tait's films are catalysts of dialogue, memory, collaboration and change - this single feature interweaves them and concentrates the journey.

À bout de souffle

1960 France

Exuberantly youthful and innovative, À bout de souffle was created with nod to the past and its eye on the future. Low-budget filmmaking proving that it’s what you do with what you have that matters. Audiences embraced the challenge and a new cinema was born. 63 years on it still sparkles.

Death of a Nation The Timor Conspiracy

1994 United Kingdom

On broadcast it elicited a huge response to a helpline and provoked thousands to write to their MPs about a subject most were previously unaware of. Members of the UN Human Rights Commission credited it with influencing their decision to investigate reports of executions and massacres further. A singular example of the power of film to raise consciousness and stimulate action on all levels.

A Matter of Life and Death

1946 United Kingdom

A fantasy grounded in the real world. An escape or a guide to better understanding? A slice of history or a universal drama? Showing off Technicolor brilliance and technical excellence AMOLAD continues to offer us opportunities to assess the point of it all.

Further remarks

First issue - defining great(est). At what moment. With which perspective. Doesn't that continually change?

Second issue - defining film. More challenging as moving image works have an increasingly diverse production and distribution history. For example, I don’t want to forget works born as installations. The experience is made distinct for the audience by the environment but the fundamental art of storytelling in moving images is one that moves between boundaries (cinema/TV/gallery). Although I can’t see it in a traditional cinema it’s hard to leave out a work like Incoming (Richard Mosse, 2017).

Recognising that we all shift in understanding and that the cultural landscape changes (it is our fault if it doesn’t) I’ve selected titles that have affected my perspective - and not only on the nature of film. What they have in common is a sense of disruption, changing the way of looking at cinema and the world. Our cultural spaces reflect and are reflective of our lives and politics. Testing the boundaries, changing the canon is healthy and essential. As is respecting the differences. Variously these films have challenged me to look differently, they’ve challenged governments to take action and society to review its prejudices and conventions. That’s real power.

Of course I’ve left out favourites. Works that I know resound across the history of cinema. Works that have given me great pleasure. Works that are so skilful in their production. No Kieslowski, Marker, Loach, Holland, Sen, Akerman, Varda, Denis, Hawks, Tavianis, Lynch, Wong Kar Wai, Sembène… but I hope they’ll be represented by others. And we each might submit a slightly different list next month…