Gareth Evans

Editor,; fim curator, Whitechapel Art Gallery


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

2001: A Space Odyssey


Stanley Kubrick

Edvard Munch


Peter Watkins

Fear Eats the Soul


Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000


Alain Tanner

Nostalgia for the Light


Patricio Guzmán



Andrei Tarkovsky

Tale of Tales, A


Yuri Norstein

Thin Red Line, The


Terrence Malick

Three Colours: Red


Krzysztof Kieslowski

Wings of Desire


Wim Wenders


“Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible,” declared Edwin Land, co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation. Wise words, and keep well in mind attempting this poll response, with one proviso: let’s remove the “nearly”. The genuine torment of such assembly is made both easier and harder by a profound gap in my watching of the moving image from entire territories, a lack thrown into sharper relief when contemplating Mark Cousins’ monumental overview The Story of Film (maybe one could choose that and wrangle thousands of titles into one). So, naming the infinite losses first; Angelopoulos, Antonioni, Brakhage, Buñuel, Egoyan, Marker, Pasolini, Paradjanov, Peleshian; Beau Travail; The Gleaners and I; Horse Thief; Old Joy; Penda’s Fen, Spirit of the Beehive; 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould; Yi Yi; comedies (especially silent, the Marx Brothers and Local Hero); the final scenes of Two Years at Sea and Werckmeister Harmonies… However, one of many things learnt from MC Film is advocacy. All polls, of course, are endorsements, but in these volume-saturated times, maybe there’s a little more needed. Looking at my own selection, I’m struck by several things straight off – its complete failure in chronology, gender and ethnicity terms, along with an unexpected grouping within the 1970s. I can’t defend the former, but I can perhaps tease out the latter. In a way, all the works chosen explore, embody, speak for and salvage the human(e) in the face of threats and challenge on various scales. That this seam ran, delirious and wide-eyed, through that decade seems no coicidence; Utopia doesn’t disappear once it’s lost the streets. It regroups. And there’s a sense of revelation to the titles chosen – the shock of vision in the fullest sense. It’s an auteur-driven constellation and, to a degree, these titles stand for the larger oeuvre (not the case of Tale of Tales, which is simply the greatest animation ever made – don’t take my word for it). That said, just as King Lear is the Shakespeare that speaks most urgently to our times, so it feels respectively with Stalker, 2001, The Thin Red Line. There’s also a conscious wish to put at the centre methods of being through working (both behind and in front of the lens), hence the Watkins, the Fassbinder, the Tanner. I guess it’s about finding films that speak both to the period we live in, while pointing towards futures worth inhabiting, through how they have created realities of imagination, action and a gaze towards light, regardless of subject. That Guzman’s Nostalgia for the Light could (albeit with significant difficulty) be made now, is cause for great rejoicing. Finally, Three Colours: Red and Wings of Desire, films so loved they have entered the psyche and are almost indivisible from it: again, film as empathy. The fact of these all (and so many more) in the world is both a great solace and spur. Onwards!

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