Violet Lucca

VP of Digital, Harper’s Magazine

Voted for

Al MAKHDOU-OUN1972Tewfik Saleh
TERRA EM TRANSE1967Glauber Rocha
The Headless Woman2008Lucrecia Martel
Touki Bouki1973Djibril Diop Mambéty
Twin Peaks: The Return2017David Lynch
Memories of Underdevelopment1968Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
No Home Movie2015Chantal Akerman
Petite maman2021Céline Sciamma
Personal Problems1980Bill Gunn
Yi Yi1999Edward Yang


My list is unranked. I don’t like lists and never have—art is not like sports where the best team can win a decisive victory. And only ten slots means that there are so many films that I must omit. Does that mean Varda’s filmography means nothing to me? Or that when I cry during Millennium Mambo it’s just a performance? That the indescribable way Fassbinder’s 720-degree tracking shots make me feel are just not worth mentioning? What constitutes “great” is slippery. I don’t pretend to know it. I participated in this poll because I realize it is a branding exercise, a way to let people know that I still care about film deeply even as I seem to write about the medium less and less. I hate that even more than trying to figure out what to put in these fucking slots. We are moving into a world where everything—happiness, sadness, and even drama/interpersonal conflict—is being monetized by companies in Silicon Valley. We are moving into an unprecedented age of social capital, and nobody seems too bothered to stop it. I am torn between keeping some things to myself, or at least saving them for the most important people in my life, and participating in the larger mess of online cinephilia. And the way this poll will be analyzed and discussed and yelled about proves that it’s not really about the films, but about microcelebrity and generating more content, more things to pass in front of your glazzies (in the parlance of Alexander de Large from A Clockwork Orange). I have no solution for my own cynicism, except to watch more great/challenging/moving/uncompromising films. I suppose the ones I have listed are as good a starting point as any.