Philip Ilson

Director, London Short Film Festival; short film programmer, BFI London Film Festival; programmer, Jersey Branchage Film Festival; freelance programmer, short film, feature film, multi-media events, music festivals


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Apocalypse Now


Francis Ford Coppola

Buffalo 66


Vincent Gallo

Draughtman's Contract, The


Peter Greenaway



David Lynch

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!


Russ Meyer

Night of the Living Dead, The


George A Romero

Paris, Texas


Wim Wenders

Raging Bull


Martin Scorsese

Taxi Driver


Martin Scorsese

Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The


Tobe Hooper


I wanted to think of films that have had a big impact on me as well as films that I consider to be pushing boundaries in what cinema can achieve. I believe that all the films on my list are united by the personal vision of a filmmaker who went beyond the call of duty and against adversity to get them made; many on the list had notoriously troubled shoots or were vilified on release (although awards have also been showered on some). But all ten films have also affected me personally in my cinemagoing life and I can watch them again and again. On the downside, all these films are English language (mostly American), and the one German production was shot in the US. They also mostly originate in my teenage discovery years of watching 1970s cinema on VHS tapes or visiting the Scala or National Film Theatre for a weekly fix of Scorsese or Lynch, but this gives the list a personal touch. Of course, there are many great films made before 1965, and the last two decades has seen foreign-language cinema from across the whole world far outdo American cinema in terms of creativity and originality of vision. Women filmmakers too have been making great works throughout the 2000s. How has this selection affected my job as a film programmer mainly working with short films? It’s in shorts where filmmakers can take chances and be true to their visions; many are where filmmakers can cut their teeth with an outpouring of creativity, with no one to answer to. Such works can really get a new talent noticed. As a programmer of around 15 years, I’m always on the look out for such films, and have been blessed to see the early shorts work of Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay and Andrew Kotting and watched their subsequent careers progress.

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