Robyn Citizen

Director of Festival Programming and Cinematheque, TIFF

Voted for

Playtime1967Jacques Tati
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles1975Chantal Akerman
Singin' in the Rain1951Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Killer of Sheep1977Charles Burnett
SEPPUKU1962Masaki Kobayashi
Sonatine1993Takeshi Kitano
OBALTAN1961Yoo Hyeon-mok
YEELEN1987Souleymane Cissé
Le Bonheur1965Agnès Varda
The Thing1982John Carpenter



1967 France

Playful and profound in every scene, a mediation on the farcical aspects of technology and urban spaces.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

1975 Belgium, France

A flawless examination of how the public and private spheres collide in the crushing dailyness of one woman’s labour. The precision and vision of Akerman at 25 years old made such an impression on me a a young cinephile. Along with Seyrig’s performance it’s a masterwork.

Singin' in the Rain

1951 USA

Always relevant, always entertaining, timeless - the apex of both the film-about-film subgenre and the studio musical genre.

Killer of Sheep

1977 USA

Sublime, episodic portait of a working class Black family in Watts trying to make ends meet and coming together with friends and neighbors in the small moments that make up a life. Utterly realist yet poetic and a classic of American independent cinema with Burnett wearing most of the hats during the production. One of the first indie, art films I recognized myself in.


1962 Japan

I’m sure The Human Condition is the more common Kobayashi film that makes these lists but Hara-kiri is so tightly paced and suspenseful with all the insights about class inequality, and concepts like honor and rule of law being used to mask inhumane abuses of power. The titular scene is absolutely devastating to watch, even by modern standards, and Kobayashi is a master of social commentary that doesn’t sacrifice emotional resonance or individual characterization. The players are never simply social types or mouthpieces for the filmmaker’s beliefs.


1993 Japan

Life-changing, life-affirming and a singular piece of Yakuza existential arthouse cinema with a transcendent score by Joe Hisaishi.


1961 Korea, Republic of

A stunning time-capsule of postwar South Korea seamlessly fusing the best of the neorealist tradition with film noir to tell the bleak story of the Song family.


1987 Mali, Burkina Faso (Upper Volta), France, German Democratic Republic

It felt as if Cissé was creating his own entirely unique cinematic language in this mythic view of West Africa outside of and predating a colonial timeline. One of the best films of all time and a transcendent viewing experience but also an incredibly important film in disrupting the typical canon.

Le Bonheur

1965 France

Horrifying and trenchant interpretation of relationships between men and women, the nuclear family and the the rigidly prescribed roles for women in these arrangements. It’s radicalism is entirely communicated in Varda’s use of montage and imagery leaving its narrative content more open to interpretation. So ahead of its time I don’t think feminism has caught up to it yet.

The Thing

1982 USA

I came to my love of film in general through my love for the horror genre specifically. John Carpenter quite simply understood the assignment in this remake and captured the Zeitgeist of the Reagan Era right before we lived it. The militaristic jingoism, the civil rights retrenchment, the shapeshifting of something familiar (hippie Boomers) into something threatening (yuppie consumerists), not to mention the unsurpassed practical special effects.