Sean Jacobs

Head of Africa Is a Country blog


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Battle of Algiers, The


Gillo Pontecorvo

Birds, The


Alfred Hitchcock

Borom Sarret


Ousmane Sembene



Michael Curtiz

Do The Right Thing


Spike Lee

Emperor's Naked Army Marches On, The


Kazuo Hara

Godfather: Part I, The


Francis Ford Coppola

In the Year of the Pig


Emile de Antonio



Oliver Schmitz

Raging Bull


Martin Scorsese


I chose these ten films as they have had the biggest impact on my own view of cinema. Battle of Algiers stands alone as a piece of fictional documentary. I prefer Emile de Antiono’s 1968 documentary In The Year of the Pig (1968) over Peter Davis’ Hearts and Minds as the definitive piece of work on Vietnam (I think Davis used some of de Antiono’s footage). Filmmakers as diverse as Michael Moore and Errol Morris swear by The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On, about a Japanese Second World War veteran. Casablanca, Hitchcock’s The Birds, The Godfather and Raging Bull are all films my father – who loves cinema – introduced to me when I was a teenager. Finally, I picked two African films knowing full well they won’t probably make it far in the poll, but I feel strongly about their value as cinema. The first is Borom Sarret (The Wagoner), an 18-minute film set in newly independent Senegal by Ousmane Sembene, which is considered the first work directed by a black African, in 1966. Second, Mapantsula, a 1988 film about a gangster-activist made by the black-white South Africa duo of Thomas Mogotlane and Oliver Schmitz, which I consider to be the definitive film on Apartheid.

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