|The Gold Rush
|Manoel de Oliveira
|Nanook of the North
|I Am Cuba
|When the Day Breaks
|Wendy Tilby, Amanda Forbis
|The Man with the Beautiful Eyes
The Gold Rush
One day in my small village in rural Portugal after the 1974 democratic revolution, a mysterious man appeared in a car with a projector. He installed it in the local theatre, just close to my house. It was free entry and the entire village came to see, me included. I was 4 years old. In the film there was a house balancing on the edge of a cliff, then the main character ate his own boots with such relish that I whispered to my sister: “It’s chocolate!”. I never forgot it.
It is a film about childhood and I saw it for the first time as a child. It touched me a lot, I vividly remember the feeling of loss and tragedy that the character experiences at a certain point in the film. In my opinion, the director captured and faithfully conveyed the emotions and dramas of childhood, with rich light, photography and composition, evoking that feeling of nostalgia which is so Portuguese.
Nanook of the North
I saw this documentary for the first time as an adult and it marked me. It follows the life of this family in extreme living conditions, facing the camera with a permanent smile on their face. The direction of this documentary is both a life and cinema lesson, showing the cruelty of life and death but balancing the fatalism of the situation with notes of humour.
I Am Cuba
The story of this film surprised me immensely: how is it possible for a masterpiece to have been ignored for almost 30 years?
The direction is so epic and majestic, the aesthetic choices and photography so innovative and impactful that if it had been known at the time it premiered, it would certainly have influenced the course of cinema, as many have already said.
It is a film that particularly touches me, coming from a dysfunctional family of simple-minded “misfits”. It is the perfect balance between comedy and poetry, it lets the viewer reflect on how society needs its “freaks”.
As an animation director, I have to highlight the niche of authored short animated films, almost unknown and or ignored/underestimated by fiction cinema professionals, who consider themselves the “true representative of cinema”. And yet… this film is a masterpiece and an example of animated cinema that all film professionals worthy of the name should know.
The greatness of a film is not measured by its length and this is one of them, a short film with a universe between dream and nightmare, in an undefined time and spaces, enigmatic and poetic, directed with absolute mastery, in its editing playing with the relativity of real-time and reversed scenes.
When the Day Breaks
An animated short film with a breathtaking aesthetic beauty, fun and extremely deep in its content, leading the viewer to reflect on human nature, human relationships, the individual and the collective and how we are part of a cosmos of interconnected lives.
The Man with the Beautiful Eyes
The direction of this film elevates the original poem to another level of beauty and depth: there are two poems, the poem by Charles Bukowski and the visual poem created by the director, they dance with each other, completing each other, emphasising thus the words about the cruelty of becoming an adult and the threat of primordial purity loss.
To finish this questionnaire, a question: “what defines a great film? Is it a film in which we recognise its great technical qualities and mastery of cinematographic language or is it a film that touches us in such a way that we want to see it again and again?
For me the answer is the second option and this film, discreet and maybe dated, is for me timeless, it touches me and gives me courage, reminding me of the possibility of change.
My answers are from the point of view of an ordinary viewer and not a professional. For me this is the correct approach, not letting myself be influenced by the director's notoriety or the impact that the film had in its time, but just feeling intuitively and sensorially which films marked me and which I would like to see again.