Laura Waddington

Border; Cargo

UK

Voted in the directors’ poll

Voted for

79 Springtimes

1969

Santiago Álvarez

Ditch

Wang Bing

Gertrud

1964

Carl Theodor Dreyer

House is Black, The

1962

Forough Farrokhzad

Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The

1943

Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger

Man with a Movie Camera

1929

Dziga Vertov

Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom

1975

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Sorrow and the Pity, The

1969

Marcel Ophüls

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

1960

Naruse Mikio

Yol

1982

Serif Gören/Yilmaz Güney

Comments

They say that Vertov became a bitter old man. However, when I watch Man with a Movie Camera, what I see is his amazing faith in cinema – that of a genius determined to bring images to his people.

Sitting on the ground in the pouring rain, an Afghan man who had lost everything spoke to me of his love for the poetry and the courage of Forough Farrokhzad.

All over Turkey when I mentioned Yilmaz Güney, eyes lit up and hearts opened; they spoke about him as a hero.

Naruse’s portrait of the hostess Keiko and Dreyer’s Gertrud communicated more to me about being a woman than any woman ever has.

Santiago Álvarez’s revolutionary energy burst everything open.

The discovery of Pasolini at 19 changed the course of my life. He foresaw our present; I read his words like messages from a prophet.

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s films are the only thing to have made me love my country.

I worry about Europe when men like Marcel Ophuls will no longer be around. His polyglot, intransigent mind is our conscience and our memory.

When I think about what these filmmakers share, they are exiles. Each one confronted their society head-on and something in the rhythm of their shots or the way they filmed a face makes me believe they never turned away or backed down. Poets, stubborn and subversive, they carved out a language, taking nothing for granted. Their films taught me about freedom, love of life, resistance, betrayal, horror… and explode the notion that to be political a work must be above aesthetics, a vision separate from form.

Among them, I barely dare see Salo again. The few times I watched it were followed by weeks of deep depression. But how often do you encounter a work so terrifying it throws everything into question?

I thought that cinema was exhausted. Then, in a Chinese desert, Wang Bing showed, by shifting things very slightly, that all is reinvented.

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