Rama Thiaw


Voted for

Touki Bouki1973Djibril Diop Mambéty
Ugetsu Monogatari1953Kenji Mizoguchi
GEGEN DIE WAND2003Fatih Akin
All about Eve1950Joseph L. Mankiewicz
2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley Kubrick
Apocalypse Now1979Francis Ford Coppola
Malcolm X1992Spike Lee
GoodFellas1990Martin Scorsese
Handsworth Songs1986John Akomfrah
The Act of Killing2012Joshua Oppenheimer


Touki Bouki

1973 Senegal

A visionary love story about the illusions of a euphoric Senegal of the 1970s - post-independence - with the end of the dream already looming on the horizon when the black man betrays the black woman. Very Senegalese in its avant-garde aesthetic, highly poetic where even the silences are loud.

Ugetsu Monogatari

1953 Japan

A master of light, always on the side of the "little folks", of the beautiful people in their complexity with portraits of strong and touching women. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful sequences of the cinema is in this film: when the boat led by the potter's wife flees the war, lit by the moon on a lake that looks like a sea of silk that is being torn apart. Beautiful, tragic and human.


2003 Germany

If the couple in Djibril Diop Mambety's "Touki Bouki" had shipped to Europe together, we would have had their story from the other side. This is somehow what "HEAD ON" tells us as a story. A highly modern film that for once tells 'The Love Story' from the point of view of the exiles, the other, the non-white in western world. A weird, funny and passionate love. A punk, political and sensitive mise en scene with a daring soundtrack.

A great contemporary film.

All about Eve

1950 USA

1954 and still as pertinent and acid. Dialogues written with knives with the precision of a goldsmith. Cult lines. An inventive narrative structure, with a beautiful use of internal voice-overs. Sublime acting. With actors more efficient than each other. And above all, actors who love their art and each of them brings us the best of what they are. Modern on the relationships between men and women, but also on the reflection of the struggle of the new art that comes to bury the old. Here it is the cinema versus the theatre. And we could transpose the same rhetoric to Cinema versus Platforms... One of my bedside films.

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 USA, United Kingdom

A total cinema experience, it is with this film that I understood the power of the movie theatre. Cinema as a collective, individual and intimate momentum, all at once.

In this film, there is an absolute symbiosis of sound, image and purpose.

Visual, intellectual and emotional. A timeless film.

Apocalypse Now

1979 USA

The madness of men, of capitalist societies, of systems of domination.

An epic film that speaks of excess. In my opinion, no film has so much married its form and its content, its purpose. A profusion of colour, music, poetry, sound and fury.

My first cinematographic shock at the age of 8. If I think of the origin of my desire to be a filmmaker it is through this film; which for me depicted exactly the stupidity of adults but also what saved them in my eyes, namely, their naive candour in wanting to save themselves by saving humanity.

Cult film.

Malcolm X

1992 USA

In the perilous exercise of telling the life of a famous character in images, Spike Lee has distinguished himself with flying colours. Malcolm X is much more than a biography, beyond a biopic. It captures a moment, a polaroid of an era, of a country that is the USA at the beginning of the last century until the 60s.

A post-slavery America that has difficulty in getting rid of it.

He tells us like no other the afflictions and paradoxes of a person who rises in this America. Socially, politically, intimately and spiritually. Classic in its form but not without panache when, for example, Malcolm X goes towards his certain death in a travelling shot where one has the impression that he is flying, in levitation.


1990 USA

I love almost all of Scorsese's films. This one may seem minor in his oeuvre, but it touches me because all these fragilities give it a singular charm. A story of friendship like no other. The music does not come to fill or underline the emotion, it is a character that gives us another degree of reading of the narrative. One of the best adaptations of a book. A great direction, great actors; the film I have seen the most in my life.

Handsworth Songs

1986 United Kingdom

How to tell and fight against racism? How to give the history of a community in a sensitive way without being didactic or dogmatic? How to tell the story of a society, of a moment in time, without narration, but only by speaking to all our senses, whether they are sensual or intellectual? How to show non-whites on the screen by going beyond the cliches and deconstructing them? Handsworth Song is the answer to all this. A great film, on the edge of experimentation, of Art in short.

To be seen and seen again without moderation, especially in these troubled times.

The Act of Killing

2012 Denmark, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Poland

I like documentary films because cinema is born documentary. Documentary has this strength that fiction lacks in its power to account for, sublimate and question the Real in its most raw material. In this film, the director, by an absolute abnegation, makes us live, as in the greatest literature, the human point of view of what we can name "the absolute evil". Evil that is an integral part of our humanity. But which has long been put at a distance in the art that is cinema.

How does one live when one is an executioner, a murderer?

The Act Of Killing allows us this dizzyingly intimate dive. But beyond that, and this is the power of documentary cinema, it has allowed a whole society to see itself in the face and by this gesture to allow the victims to have a voice in the public space. A necessary act in the healing process for an entire nation. With this film, there is a before and after in the narration and in the representation of the evil inherent in humans that before, in Western cinema, had always been put at a distance, as something outside of our humanity. Masterpiece.

Further remarks

It was difficult for me to choose only 10 films, I think it would be fairer to ask for the 30 or 50 films that have marked us. Because, our humanity is revealed in the cinema that it proposes. Several continents, several pearls. Sometimes unknown films that are masterpieces. And then the women. My great regret here is that I could not put more women directors. I tried to be honest about the films that made me a filmmaker but there are others. And above all I put a ranking, but in reality I am unable to rank them.

So here are at least the 11 others that would have deserved to be in my ranking.

11_ Mauvais Sang / The Night Is Young (1986) By Leos Carax

12_ Once upon a Time in America (1984) by Sergio Leone.

13_Old Boy ( 2003) by Park Chan-Wook

14_Sambizanga (1972) by Sarah Maldoror

15_ Xala (1973) by Ousmane Sembène

16_ Memories of a Murder (2003) by Bong Joon Ho

17_ High Heels (1991) by Pedro Almodóvar

18_Saint-Omer ( 2022) by Alice Diop

19_ The Long Holiday (2000) by Johan Van der Keuken

20_Le Cercle Rouge ( 1970) by Jean-Pierre Melville

21_ Vitalina Varela ( 2019) by Pedro Costa