Tambay Obenson

Writer, Editor

Voted for

West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty1979Med Hondo
HYÈNES1992Djibril Diop Mambéty
Mille soleils2013Mati Diop
Mandabi1968Ousmane Sembène
2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley Kubrick
The Battle of Algiers1966Gillo Pontecorvo
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly1966Sergio Leone
The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover1989Peter Greenaway
Seven Samurai1954Akira Kurosawa


West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty

1979 France, Mauritania

Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo's crowning achievement, WEST INDIES is a musical epic covering nearly four hundred years in the history of the French West Indies, from enslavement to present-day displacement in France.


1992 Switzerland, France, Senegal, United Kingdom, Netherlands

After TOUKI BOUKI's success, Djibril Diop Mambéty did not make another feature for almost twenty years. It came in the form of an ambitious fantastical and witty adaptation of Swiss-German writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt's satirical play THE VISIT. Two decades later, the maturity and magisterial clarity of Mambéty's authorial voice was palpable in this morality provocation about vengeance and greed.

Mille soleils

2013 France

Years before her feature directorial debut ATLANTICS (2019), Mati Diop paid homage to her late uncle, Djibril Diop Mambéty’s 1972 landmark TOUKI BOUKI. Titled A THOUSAND SUNS (MILLE SOLEILS), the fusion of documentary and fiction with fantasy elements is a hauntingly beautiful portrait of Magaye Niang, star of TOUKI BOUKI, 40 years later. Now a cattle herder, Niang is equivocal about the film's legacy, and his own place in Senegal's cinematic history.



Désiré Ecaré's politically and stylistically adventurous film is a creatively unpredictable portrait of womanhood in contemporary Africa, exploring links between African feminism, socioeconomics, and tradition in a post-colonial context. It was a provocation way ahead of its time.


1968 Senegal, France

The "father of African cinema's” second feature, MANDABI (THE MONEY ORDER) is Ousmane Sembene's scathing satire of the legacy of colonialism in Senegal, and really, representative of much of Africa. Based on his own novel, MANDABI was historic, believed to be the first film made in a native African language (Wolof) by an African cast and crew, and the first African feature film in color, made by an African cast and crew.

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 USA, United Kingdom

A landmark, science fiction classic that towers over contemporary competition and needs absolutely no introduction at this point.

The Battle of Algiers

1966 Italy, Algeria

It must have been sublime to experience this the very first time, on the big screen, in 1966. After I first saw it 25 years ago, I walked around calling myself Ali La Pointe. I knew nothing like Jon Snow.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

1966 Italy

The third and final, as well as the best film in Sergio Leone’s "Dollars Trilogy," it's formidable in scope, emotionally resonant, made with a style and flair that confirms THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY as maybe the greatest Western ever made. Leone masterpiece stands the test of time.

The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover

1989 United Kingdom, France

An assault on the mind and senses, Peter Greenaway's magnum opus is a full menu: a cast of incredible actors at the top of their respective careers; a star fashion designer in Jean-Paul Gaultier creating the look of the film; lush cinematography courtesy of Sacha Vierny, most famous for his work with Alain Resnais; and an unforgettably haunting Michael Nyman score. It's a beautifully gruesome film and Greenaway's most accessible work.

Seven Samurai

1954 Japan

Akira Kurosawa’s samurai epic marked a peak in the influential Japanese filmmaker's most critically appreciated period. Together with star Toshiro Mifune, theirs was a collaboration that produced a decade of films that would belong in any catalog of the greatest films ever made. But the Seven Samurai is nothing short of canonical.

Further remarks

I could create a dozen or more lists of 10 films that I consider the "greatest" and each will differ greatly from all the others. Alas, a ballot of 10 is simply not enough to capture even a fraction of what greatness in cinema looks, sounds, and feels like. But here we are. That said, thanks for the opportunity to contribute.