José Luis Rebordinos

Director, San Sebastián Film Festival

Spain

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Belle de Jour

1967

Luis Buñuel

Big Heat, The

1953

Fritz Lang

Gertrud

1964

Carl Theodor Dreyer

Last Laugh, The

1924

F. W. Murnau

Late Spring

1949

Ozu Yasujirô

Little Girl Who Sold The Sun, The

1999

Djibril Diop Mambéty

My Neighbour Totoro

1988

Miyazaki Hayao

Nightmare Before Christmas, The

1993

Henry Selick

Plácido

1961

Luis García Berlanga

Silence, The

1963

Ingmar Bergman

Comments

My 10 favourite films in cinema history. It is impossible to encapsulate in only 10 films all the pleasure, the intense and chilling moments that I’ve had from cinema. However, I take the challenge to list my ten favourite films as a game, conscious that I could make a different list every day, depending on my state of mind and the memories that would rush to my head. Maybe only one film would remain untouchable: Gertrud. The order I propose is the year of production. This way, I free myself of the difficult and unpleasant task of sorting the films in order of preference. The Last Laugh: for me, it was essential to include in this list one work by Murnau and one of the so-called German “expressionist” films. It could have been Nosferatu, but in the end I went for this sad story and Emil Jannings’ great performance. Late Spring: almost any Ozu film would be among my favourite ones. Especially those with Chishû Ryú and Setsuko Hara. Emotion in its purest state. This is pioneering cinema, a cinema that neither reproduces nor pays homage to any previous cinema. Every time I see this film, my eyes fill with tears at moments that don’t seem created to do that. Ozu’s cinema has something that goes straight to the heart. The Big Heat: film noir is my favourite genre, so a film made during the golden age of the Hollywood studios had to make it onto the list. A superb script and great actors: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin, amongst others. Plácido: Berlanga gave us some of the most beautiful and funniest films of Spanish cinema. I chose this ironic and tender story that speaks as much about the hypocrisy of human beings as their ability to help each other to survive. The film has a cast full of outstanding, yet often undervalued, actors and actresses, such as José Luis López Vázquez, Manuel Aleixandre, Cassen, Elvira Quintillá, José María Cafarell and Fernando Delgado, amongst others. The Silence: I saw it when I was a young man in post-Franco Spain, a country longing to regain the freedom that the dictator had snatched away for 40 years. The film disturbed me a lot – its sad sexuality, its incredible black and white cinematography by the master Sven Nykvist, Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom’s performances, Europe at war, the tanks in the streets, and the silence of God and men crushing everything. Gertrud: the most beautiful film about love I’ve ever seen. A masterpiece about the need for and the impossibility of love. My list had to include a film by this great director. There could have been even more than one… Belle de jour: one of the greatest gems of eroticism on film, ever. Catherine Deneuve (always beautiful) has never been as beautiful as in this picture, when her lover whips her as she’s tied to a tree, before handing her over to the servants. My Neighbor Totoro: a beautiful ode to nature, family, childhood, friendship. There are very few examples of animation films apparently addressed to children that manage to be so adult. Ghibli studios could be represented in this list by several other films, by Miyazaki himself or by Isao Takahata. The Nightmare Before Christmas: the soundtrack composed by Elfman; the universe created by Burton with dead people full of life; and Jack Skellington, a character that has already become part of film history in his own right – all are unforgettable. The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun: this medium-length feature is the African film that has impressed me the most. The story of a little girl, suffering from polio, who struggles to find her place amongst the street children who are selling newspapers, manages to convey emotion without ever becoming overtly sentimental. I like each of the few films that Mambéty has directed. Too bad he died too soon.

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