Tonight in London, film magazine Sight & Sound (published by the British Film Institute) announces its once-in-a-decade poll of the greatest films of all time, “perhaps the most recognized poll of its kind in the world.” The poll was first conducted in 1952. Earlier this year they asked about 800 critics, programmers, academics and curators from around the world to make submissions, including yours truly. Below I’ve copied the list I sent in along with my motivations. And yes I included one film with a sports theme. I think probably one or two of my selections made it to the final rankings. I would love to hear your opinions.
My ten films (in no particular order) are:
4. Raging Bull
7. Borom Sarret
10. The Birds
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 like both Emile de Antonio’s 1968 documentary “In The Year of the Pig” (1968) and Peter Davis’s “Hearts and Minds” as definitive pieces of work on Vietnam (I think Davis used some of de Antonio’s footage). Filmmakers as diverse as Michael Moore and Errol Morris swear by “The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On,” about a Japanese World War II veteran. “Casablanca” (a film set in Africa with hardly any Africans in it), Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” “The Godfather (I)” and “Raging Bull” are all classic films. Finally, I picked two African films knowing full well those won’t probably make it far in the poll, but I feel strongly about their value as cinema. “Borom Sarret” (The Wagoner), an 18-minute film set in newly independent Senegal by Ousmane Sembene. The film is considered the first directed by a black African in 1966. And finally, I decided on including “Mapantsula,” a 1988 film about a gangster-activist made by the black-white South Africa duo of Thomas Mogotlane and Oliver Schmitz and which I consider the definitive film on Apartheid.