Suzy Gillett

Cinefile Filmmaker, Curator, Educator

Voted for

Europa, "Based on a True Story"2019Kivu Ruhorahoza
The Best Years of Our Lives1946William Wyler
AN UNUSUAL SUMMER2020Kamal Aljafari
Twilight City1989Reece Auguiste
Six et Douze (6 and 12)1968Ahmed Bouanani, Abderrahman Tazi,  Mohamed, Abdelmajid Rechiche
De stilte rond Christine M.1982Marleen Gorris
ALPHA1973Ola Balogun
Andalucia2007Alain Gomis
Un homme qui crie2010Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Beau travail1998Claire Denis


Europa, "Based on a True Story"


Kivu Ruhorahoza is one of the world's greatest living filmmakers, who has more than a Godardian knack of creating stories from fragments and a cinematic vision well beyond most director's paygrade.

Interweaving a fictional film shot in South London and documentary images the film is a damning testament of the UK's hostile environment. Made by a dedicated crew on a shoestring it premiered at IDFA.

The Best Years of Our Lives

1946 USA

Spending a few weeks in the blistering heat in Bucharest this June I sought comfort in the beautifully classic (and cool) cinema of the Romanian Cinematheque which was hosting a retrospective of William Wyler. ( check out his Wuthering Heights!)

The Best Years of Our Lives began and I was caught off guard by the intensity of its powerful anti-war message and the 'homecoming' scenes had me shaken to the core, it sets its emotional pitch fast and high, and that's just the start. Over the 2 something hours the humanistic portrait of a trio of returning fighters to a midwest small town unfolds with superb performances (and clever cinematographic solutions to layering). Also with a terrific piano cameo by Hoagy Carmichael. It made me want to gather together all the anti-war films and programme a pacifist season to honour those that fought and are fighting and being conscripted in man's horrific wars.



I attended the Gabes Festival Fen in June 2021, invited after being on the 2020 jury, which was forced online by covid, and regaled in the excellent programme of exactly the kind of films I love best. Two years later An Unusual Summer is still the film that haunts me the most and is the one I talk about when asked what I saw there. Kamal Aljafari creates a magical experience with his re-edit of the footage from his father's surveillance camera, which he placed to protect his car after a series of broken windows. The angle remains fixed for the full 80 minutes and Aljafari creates a haunting film as we watch the comings and goings of his family and neighbours over two years as they crisscross the scrap of land where the cars are parked, filling us in with a voice over of his memories of who they are. Its an exercise of supreme montage and thoughtful measured pacing that makes what could sound like the most boring idea into one of the most gripping suspenseful and yet tragically yearnful 80 minutes. Unforgettable.

Twilight City

1989 United Kingdom

In 2020 The Chronic Youth Barbican Young Programmers picked Twilight City to screen and I watched it in the Barbican's Cinema 1 followed by a beautiful discussion with director Ayo Akingbade, BAFC member Edward George and George Shire. It is a brilliantly layered London film that gives you more every time you see it.

Six et Douze (6 and 12)

1968 Morocco

I first saw Six et Douze in the cinematheque in Tangiers and now use it at least twice a year for my various classes - Bouanani's superb editing (its essentially the editor's film) assembles the anti-colonialism message embedded in every cut. An excellent jazzy and pop filled soundtrack is the only 'narration' as the images unfold to show Casablanca on a morning in 1968.

De stilte rond Christine M.

1982 Netherlands

For my 16th birthday I took a few friends to see A Question of Silence at the Ritzy. I haven't seen it since then and it remains one of the most powerful anti-patriarchy films I've ever seen.

It was the perfect film for that 16 year old feminist self who was pretty sharp and extremely angry at the state of the world she was in. That nothing has emerged in the decades that follows to make any real dent in the capitalism patriarchy is not Gorris' fault, she tried harder than most to chip away at it and thanks to that film helped me articulate to my friends what I was feeling about the patriarchy and convinced me that going to see independent films is a political act.


1973 Nigeria

What a film! Alpha needs to be screened regularly, up there with the greatest.

Writer. Producer, Director Balogun shot the film in Paris, I wrote in my Mubi notes two years ago that it needs to be restored and brought to wider audiences. Hope that has happened?



Alain Gomis cast Samir Guesmi early on and gave him this wonderful role, and Guesmi has grown to be one of my all time favourite actors (latterly excellent in Bouchereb's great Nos Frangins). Gomis provides a genius directorial fluidity with his actors across all his films. His entire oeuvre is in a class of its own, time for a full retrospective.

I would like to see Andalucia again on a big screen, what a pleasure it would be to see Guesmi in full flight again.

Un homme qui crie

2010 France, Chad, Belgium, Cameroon, Burkina Faso (Upper Volta), Netherlands

I love this film, images from it flicker back to me every now and then in a satifying way. It's another powerful anti-war film critiquing the fathers who send their sons to die in their wars. From first encountering Haroun in 2001 with Abouna, followed by Darratt, Expectations (another favourite of mine) I've followed the course of this director's pared down exquisitely paced cinema with a profound admiration for the path that he has carved in the canon of cinema, no small achievement.

Beau travail

1998 France

Perfectly poised film, it's my favourite film by Denis with its throbbing tension and fantastic ending an all round great film. One you want to watch again as if for the first time.

Further remarks

I've tried to make a list that reflects what I'm interested in now, what films I'd take with me to a desert island to muse over and screen to friends if they happened by. I like to celebrate living directors over dead ones and a wider world view, I've restrained myself on my usual francofile cinefile list (which would be all the greats that we all know) but also thinking about my work as a curator and educator, sharing films with people who are discovering them for the first time, and vice versa them showing me films they have discovered, the joy of seeing something completely out of the blue that blows your mind. The work of curators is so critical and increasingly so in the competing maelstrom of stuff that is coming at us every which way. I've tried to put when and where I first saw the film if that's something I remember as those moments of being in a dark cinema and the experience of being there watching a film for the first time as it takes you on its journey is what has nourished my life, and as I've only just started to go back to the cinema after the pandemic. I have tried to keep my list to those films that would give that rush of pleasure that for me again and hopefully might encourage others to dig them out to watch for themselves, or lobby for their restoration.

Thanks for the invitation to spend these few hours mulling over great films, I've got more lists on my letterboxd, SUZYG.