Patrick Russell

Senior Curator (Non-Fiction), BFI National Archive

Voted for

Turksib1929Viktor Turin
Rain1929Joris Ivens
Gold Diggers of 19331933Mervyn Leroy
They Were Expendable1945John Ford
A Diary for Timothy1946Humphrey Jennings
Shane1952George Stevens
The Shetland Experience1977Derek Williams
Review 36th Year No. 51983Uncredited
Hurt2003Mark Romanek
Labour Party General Election social media launch video2019Uncredited



1929 USSR

"And you could have it all / My empire of dirt"


1929 Netherlands

"The needle tears a hole..."

Gold Diggers of 1933

1933 USA

"You are someone else / I'm still right here"

They Were Expendable

1945 USA

"Everyone I know goes away / In the end"

A Diary for Timothy

1946 United Kingdom

"If I could start again / A million miles away... I would find a way"


1952 USA

"My sweetest friend"

The Shetland Experience

1977 United Kingdom

"Full of broken thoughts... I would find a way"

Review 36th Year No. 5


"My empire of dirt / I will let you down / I will make you hurt". This work is viewable on YouTube:


2003 USA

A creative treatment of actuality.

Labour Party General Election social media launch video


"And you could have it all...

...A million miles away...". This work is viewable on Twitter:

Further remarks

"Upon my liar's chair / Full of broken thoughts… The only thing that's real"

Archivists tend to be pluralists, with respect to what types of film they value, but as egocentric as anyone else with respect to which particular films mean the most to them personally. At any rate, those things are true in my case.

Moreover no individual in 2022, choosing ten from among all those films (i.e. moving image works) made since the late 19th century, can even sensibly attempt objectivity.

So whatever else this list is, it certainly isn't objective. It is, though, almost the same as the one I submitted ten years ago. The minor changes indicate an interest in representing how some traditions in film form and film function have, in our century, moved online. Especially those of short film (n.b. very many more short films have been made from the 1890s onwards than long ones).

This list very possibly looks chaotically idiosyncratic from the outside, though it feels coherent from the inside. In that there's a cluster of resonances bouncing between these ten films: resonances of purpose, genre and aeshetic, atmosphere and mood, and relationship of on-screen content to off-screen history. Many apt double bills here.

I'll stop there, lest I never stop. I've watched all of these many times and hope to watch them all several times more.