Paolo Bertolin

Consultant, Venice International Film Festival


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Black Rain


Imamura Shohei

City of Sadness, A


Hsiao-hsien Hou

Evolution of a Filipino Family


Lav Díaz

Good Men Good Women


Hsiao-hsien Hou

My Mother's Smile


Marco Bellocchio

Petal, A


Jang Sun-woo

Puppetmaster, The


Hsiao-hsien Hou

Tropical Malady


Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Unknown Pleasures


Jia Zhang Ke

Viva l'Amour


Tsai Ming Liang


Rather than trying to choose the most important or best films in the history of cinema as a whole – a demanding challenge I don’t feel at ease facing – I preferred to concentrate on the films that molded, influenced and reshaped my perception of and passion for cinema since the time I started developing a specific interest for Asian films, in the second half of the 1980s. I thus could not help but pay full tribute to Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Taiwan Trilogy, not only for its aesthetic triumph, but because it provides the defining example of cinema used as an active tool to relate and rewrite the history of a country through the histories of its people – imagined or real. A Petal, Jang Sun-woo’s cinematic exorcism of the Kwangju Massacre, and Evolution of a Filipino Family, Lav Diaz’s torrential epic of the martial law years in the Philippines, rightfully belong to this cinematic lineage too, as does Jia Zhangke’s portrait of youth at the time of China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation. Tsai Ming-liang’s quietly heartbreaking account of contemporary anomie and urban alienation Viva l’Amour! and Tropical Malady, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s positively queer exploration of film as a space of osmosis, contagion and shape shifting, attest recognisably idiosyncratic (and unavoidably trendsetting) cinematic visions. Imamura Shohei’s deeply humanistic and rigorous remembrance of the harrowing fate of those who survived the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, Black Rain, stands as one of the grandest condemnations of the horrors of war through art. Finally, in an exception to the Asian canon (and to the expense of Stanley Kwan’s ghost melodrama Rouge, which I originally shortlisted), I include Marco Bellocchio’s brilliant masterwork My Mother’s Smile, a film where nightmares are dreamt with eyes wide open but monsters are eventually chased away by the awakening of reason.

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