Sarah Gavron


Voted for

The Piano1992Jane Campion
PERSEPOLIS2007Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
I Am Cuba1964Mikhail Kalatozov
The Ascent1976Larissa Shepitko
Ratcatcher1999Lynne Ramsay
A Separation2011Asghar Farhadi
Divines2016Houda Benyamina
Fanny and Alexander1982Ingmar Bergman
Shoplifters2018Hirokazu Koreeda
Secrets & Lies1996Mike Leigh


The Piano

1992 Australia, France

The film that made me want to make films.


2007 France, USA

Where the personal and political collide and the form she has chosen sings.

I Am Cuba

1964 USSR, Cuba

How was this achieved pre-drones? Just as a piece of cinematic artistry it is astonishing.

The Ascent

1976 USSR

Tragically one of her only very few films. What would she make of what’s happening in Ukraine today?


1999 United Kingdom, France

I saw this straight out of film school and I could still describe every frame. The nit-comb scene as a moment of intimacy rings as true as anything in cinema for me.

A Separation

2011 Iran

The naturalism of Iranian cinema blows me away, I want to know how he gets those performances and connects us with them so profoundly.



Another first film that is so true and so cinematic. That central friendship is equivalent to Butch and Sundance.

Fanny and Alexander

1982 Sweden, France, Federal Republic of Germany

Bergman. I am haunted by this – the abuse. The boy who escapes into imagination.


2018 Japan

Finds the absurd in the everyday. I love his returning cast of characters.

Secrets & Lies

1996 United Kingdom

Along with the Brits who I suddenly discovered as a late teenager in a rush of excitement (Terence Davies, Stephen Frears, Horace Ove and Gurinder Chadha, Sally Potter, Loach) Leigh made me aware that there was an eye behind the camera – before that I had only seen 80s Hollywood films (literally nothing else until almost 20) and thought cinema was just about fantasy lives.

Further remarks

I am frustrated I can’t fit in something from Agnes Varda. Shane Meadows would have been up there for me too and Kieslowski and so many others and I haven’t even got on to feature docs! But I suspect not many of my choices will show up on the list anyway – am I right? – as each has to have a certain number of votes and Hitchcock and Godard and Orson Welles will bag so many top spots? ( good films don’t get me wrong…)