Antti Alanen

Antti Alanen, film programmer (KAVI / National Audiovisual Institute, Helsinki)


Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, 2019)
Hemingway 1–3 (Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, 2021)
Druk (Another Round, Thomas Vinterberg, 2020)
Dinosaurus (The Dinosaur, Veikko Aaltonen, 2021)
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020)
Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020)
Ammonite (Francis Lee, 2020)
Fucking with Nobody (Hannaleena Hauru, 2020)
The Father (Florian Zeller, 2020)
Ikuiseen rauhaan (Ville Suhonen, 2021). A sober documentary portrait of the Finnish conscientious objector Arndt Pekurinen (1905–1941) who was executed on the Eastern front in WWII. The title is Finnish for Immanuel Kant’s study Zum ewigen Frieden (Perpetual Peace).
Gosudarstvennye pokhorony (State Funeral, Sergei Loznitsa, 2019)
Dorogie tovarishchi (Dear Comrades!, Andrei Konchalovsky, 2020)
Sokea mies joka ei halunnut nähdä Titanicia (The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic, Teemu Nikki, 2021)
Guled & Nasra (Khadar Ayderus Ahmed, 2021)
The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, 2021)
Invisible Demons (Rahul Jain, 2021)
Spencer (Pablo Larraín, 2021)
Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)
The Truffle Hunters (Michael Dweck & Gregory Kershaw, 2020)


The Rain People
(Francis Ford Coppola, 1969). A subtle and refined 2019 American Zoetrope restoration of a lasting achievement of the American New Wave.
Moonlight on the Highway (James MacTaggart, 1969, SC: Dennis Potter). In memoriam Sir Ian Holm, a Dennis Potter revelation, predecessor of Pennies from Heaven.
Fehérlofia (Son of the White Mare, Marcell Jankovics, 1981). In memoriam Marcell Jankovics, a 2019 restoration of a Hungarian psychedelic animation drawing on ancient myths of Scythians, Huns and Avars.
Araya (Margot Benacerraf, 1959). A poetic documentary epic about people working at the salt dunes of Venezuela. A brilliant Milestone Film & Video restoration.
George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey (George Stevens, Jr., 1984). One of the most deeply moving portraits of a film director, the Dachau scene it’s burning center.
Lumumba, la mort du prophète (Lumumba, Death of a Prophet, Raoul Peck, 1991). Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, Raoul Peck’s breakthrough film radiates intelligence, complexity and energy.
Sambizanga (Sarah Maldoror, 1972). Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, a luminous and refined achievement of militant cinema.
Les Oliviers de la justice (James Blue, 1961). Restoration of a multi-dimensional drama of French life during the Algerian war.
Alias Nick Beal (John Farrow, 1949). American politics as a Faustian pact with Ray Milland’s Nick Beal as Mephisto, essential film noir.
Kummatty (The Boogeyman, Govindan Aravindan, 1979). Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. A haunting, poetic discovery of Malayalam cinema.
Il mulino del Po (The Mill on the Po, Alberto Lattuada, 1949). Restored by Cineteca di Bologna, a neorealist historical epic worthy of La terra trema.
Geomsa-wa yeoseongyueng (A Public Prosecutor and a Teacher, 1948). Digital reconstruction by Korean Film Archive of a late sonorized silent film. An anachronistic production and reconstruction, yet indispensable because of the byeonsa (voice narrator) Sin Chul, a representative of ancient oral traditions.


I’m fed up with distant work, online meetings and virtual festivals. I was never happier than visiting the live edition of Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, although in Pordenone I was mostly distant working at my hotel room. There has never been such turbulence in the film world, and it was so exhausting that in 2021 I missed most films I wanted to see and had little energy to write.

Victor Alicea

Former Programmer for WUD Film at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  1. Sheytan vojud nadarad (There is No Evil,  Mohammad Rasoulof, 2020)
  2. Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)
  3. Undine (Christian Petzold, 2020)
  4. Belfast (Kenneth Branagh, 2021)
  5. Berlin Alexanderplatz (Burhan Qurbani, 2020)
  6. Khorshid (Sun Children, Majid Majidi 2020)
  7. Asa ga Kuru (True Mothers, Naomi Kawase, 2020)
  8. The Green Knight (David Lowery, 2021)
  9. Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)
  10. Sous le ciel d’Alice (Skies of Lebanon, Chloé Mazlo, 2020)

Histoire de ma vie racontée par mes photographies

Francisco Algarín Navarro

Francisco Algarín Navarro is a Spanish film critic and programmer. He cofounded Lumière magazine, lives and works in Seville.

Films released for the first time in 2021

2020 (Friedl vom Gröller, 2021)
Elite (Friedl vom Gröller, 2019)
sen. (Friedl vom Gröller, 2019)
a spoon. (Peter Todd, 2019)
Aguas bravas (Bruno Delgado Ramo, Paula Guerrero, España, 2019)
Bethanien Tetralogy (Deborah Phillips, 2020)
Breathing Exercises (Blanca García, 2021)
Configurations (James Edmonds, 2021)
Seasons / Patterns (James Edmonds, 2020)
Dansaert (Nicky Hamlyn, 2021)
Deep End (Daniel Swarthnas, 2021)
Echo Chamber (Valentina Alvarado Matos, Carlos Vásquez Méndez, 2021)
Een weefsel van licht (A Weave of Light, Bram Ruiter, 2021)
Emanations (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2020)
Ember Days (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2021)
Lamentations (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2020)
Terce (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2021)
Excerpts I [Though I Now Depart…] (Jorge Suárez-Quiñones Rivas, 2021)
Healing Ray (Jorge Suárez-Quiñones Rivas, 2021)
Flowers Blooming in Our Throats (Eva Giolo, 2021)
Gießen in die verlorene Form (Casting into the lost form, Josef Grassl, 2021)
Glimpses from a Visit to Orkney in Summer 1995 (Ute Aurand, 2020)
How a Sprig of Fir Would Replace a Feather (Anna Kipervaser, 2019)
Kitchen Beets (Bea Haut, 2019)
Liberty: An Ephemeral Statute (Rebecca Jane Arthur, 2020)
Merapi (Malena Szlam, 2021)
Oceano Mare (Antoinette Zwirchmayr, 2020)
Of This Beguiling Membrane (Charlotte Pryce, 2020)
Other Tidal Effects (Sofia Theodore-Pierce, 2021)
Sol de Campinas (Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2021)
Something To Touch That Is Not Corruption Or Ashes Or Dust (Mike Stoltz, 2020)
Trampa de luz (Pablo Marín, 2021)
Water & Wall (Cassandra Celestin, 2021)
We May Go In a Different Direction (Sally Lawton, 2021)

Films encountered for the first time (or when seeing them screened, as if it were the first time) in 2021

3/60 Bäume Im Herbest (Kurt Kren, 1960)
Hours for Jerome (Nathaniel Dorsky, 1966-70/82)
Triste (Nathaniel Dorsky, 1978-96)
17 Reasons Why (Nathaniel Dorsky, 1985-87)
Song and Solitude (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2005-2006)
Winter (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2007)
The Return (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2011)
Summer (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2013)
Avraham (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2014)
Prelude (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2015)
The Dreamer (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2016)
Arboretum Cycle (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2017)
Canticles (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2019)
April (Mike Piccirillo, 2011)
August and Everything After: Live at Town Hall (Christian Lamb, 2011)
A Diary for Timothy (Humphrey Jennings, 1945)
A Lecture (Hollis Frampton, 1968)
After Hours (James Edmonds, 2005)
Fleeting Landscape (James Edmonds, 2007/2016)
We All Live in the Blue Image Forever (James Edmonds, 2007/2018)
Inside/Outside (James Edmonds, 2008/2015)
Sternwarten der Welt (Sun Documents, James Edmonds, 2011/2020)
Movement and Stillness (James Edmonds, 2015)
A Return (James Edmonds, 2018)
Album 1 (Boris Lehman, 1974)
Histoire de ma vie racontée par mes photographies (Boris Lehman, 1995-2000)
Magnum Begynasium Bruxellense (Boris Lehman, 1978)
Tentatives de se décrire (Boris Lehman, 1989-1995)
Allers venues (Vivian Ostrovsky, 1984)
Amor de Perdição (Manoel de Oliveira, 1979)
Angèle (Marcel Pagnol, 1934)
Le Gant de l’autre (Michel Nedjar, 1977)
Angle (Michel Nedjar, 1978)
Désir (Michel Nedjar, 1978)
Gestuel (Michel Nedjar, 1978)
Marché Malik (Michel Nedjar, 1978)
Journal respiratoire (Michel Nedjar, 1985)
Arnulf Rainer (Peter Kubelka, 1960)
Uski Roti (Mani Kaul, 1970)
Duvidha (Mani Kaul, 1973)
Arrival (Mani Kaul, 1980)
Dhrupad (Mani Kaul, 1982)
Mati Manas (The Mind of Clay, Mani Kaul, 1984)
Before My Eyes (Mani Kaul, 1989)
Arrows (Sandra Lahire, 1984)
Edge (Sandra Lahire, 1986)
Terminals (Sandra Lahire, 1986)
Plutonium Blonde (Sandra Lahire, 1986)
Uranium Hex (Sandra Lahire, 1987)
Serpent River (Sandra Lahire, 1989)
Lady Lazarus (Sandra Lahire, 1991)
Eerie (Sandra Lahire, 1992)
Night Dances (Sandra Lahire, 1995)
Johnny Panic (Sandra Lahire, 1999)
Double Labyrinthe (Maria Klonaris, Katerina Thomadaki, 1976)
L’Enfant qui a pissé des paillettes (Maria Klonaris, Katerina Thomadaki, 1977)
Arteria Magna in Dolore Laterali (Maria Klonaris, Katerina Thomadaki, 1979)
Unheimlich II: Astarti (Maria Klonaris, Katerina Thomadaki, 1980)
L’Ange Amazonien. Un portrait de Lena Vandrey (Maria Klonaris, Katerina Thomadaki, 1992)
At the Academy (Guy Sherwin, 1974)
Musical Stairs (Guy Sherwin, 1977)
Railings (Guy Sherwin, 1977)
Au-delà de cette limite (Marcel Broodthaers, 1971)
La Bataille de Waterloo (The Battle of Waterloo, Marcel Broodthaers, 1975)
Austrian Pavilion (Philipp Fleischmann, 2020)
Autoportrait au dispositif (Christian Lebrat, 1981)
Backcomb (Sarah Pucill, 1995)
Stages of Mourning (Sarah Pucill, 2003)
Bad Burns (Paul Sharits, 1982)
Bagatelle II (Jerome Hiler, 1964-2016)
New Shores (Jerome Hiler, 1971-87/2014)
In the Stone House (Jerome Hiler, 1967-70/2012)
Bagatelle I (Jerome Hiler, 2016-2018)
Ruling Star (Jerome Hiler, 2019)
Before Need Redressed (Gunvor Nelson, Dorothy Wiley, 1994)
Fog Pumas (Gunvor Nelson, Dorothy Wiley, 1967)
Les Femmes palestiniennes (Palestinian Women, Jocelyne Saab, 1974)
Beyrouth, jamais plus (Beirut, Never Again, Jocelyne Saab, 1976)
Les Enfants de la guerre (Children of War, Jocelyne Saab, 1976)
Madinat Al-Mawta (City of the Dead, Jocelyne Saab, 1977)
Rissala Min Beirut (A Lettre from Beirut, Jocelyne Saab, 1978)
Beyrouth, ma ville (Beirut, My City, Jocelyne Saab, 1982)
Blues (Larry Gottheim, 1970)
Corn (Larry Gottheim, 1970)
Bouquets 25-27 (Rose Lowder, 2002-03)
Cesarée (Marguerite Duras, 1978)
L’Homme atlantique (Marguerite Duras, 1981)
Colour Separation (Chris Welsby, 1974-76)
Windmill II (Chris Welsby, 1973)
Couples (Maria Lassnig, 1972)
Cruises (Cécile Fontaine, 1989)
Cygne I & II (Absis, 1976)
D. Jaime ou a Noite Portuguesa (Luis Noronha da Costa, 1974)
O Construtor de Anjos (Luis Noronha da Costa, 1978)
Del tuffarsi e dell’annegarsi (Paolo Gioli, 1972)
Film stenopeico (l’uomo senza macchina da presa) (Pinhole Film (Man without a Movie Camera), Paolo Gioli, 1973-89)
Homovie (Yann Beauvais, 1976-77)
Disjet (Yann Beauvais, 1979-82)
Enjeux (Yann Beauvais, 1984)
Divers-Épars (Yann Beauvais, 1987)
Dress Rehearsal / Karola 2 (Christine Noll Brinckmann, 1979-80)
Winged Dialogue (Robert Beavers, 1967-2000)
Plan of Brussels (Robert Beavers, 1968-2000)
Work Done (Robert Beavers, 1972)
Sotiros (Robert Beavers, 1976-78/1996)
Efpsychi (Robert Beavers, 1983/1996)
Wingseed (Robert Beavers, 1985)
Étude cinématographique sur une arabesque (Germaine Dulac, 1929)
Extremity #2 (Gianfranco Bravia, 1968)
Festung Europa (Shifting peripheries, Louise Crawford, 1992)
Field Study #2 (Gunvor Nelson, 1988)
Old Digs (Gunvor Nelson, 1992)
Kristina’s Harbor Revisited (Gunvor Nelson, 2010)
Film sans caméra STST (Giovanni Martedi, 1975)
Gamelan (Claudio Caldini, 1981)
Gammelion (Gregory J. Markopoulos, 1967)
Ghashiram Kotwal (Yukt Film Cooperative, 1976)
Hus (Inger Lise Hansen, 1998)
Husan al-Tin (Horse of Mud, Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, 1971)
Ughniyat Touha al-Hazina (Sad Song of Touha, Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, 1972)
Bihar al-’Attash (Seas of Thirst, Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, 1980)
Al-Ahlam al-Mumkinna (Permissible Dreams, Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, 1983)
Iqa’ al-Haya (Rhythm of Life, Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, 1988)
Santoor (Deborah S. Phillips, 1997-1998)
Mosaïc (Deborah S. Phillips, 2001)
Noor (Deborah S. Phillips, 2003)
Im Grünen Bereich (all is good, all’s green, Deborah S. Phillips, 2015-2017)
Nach Osten Schauen (Look East! Deborah S. Phillips, 2016-2017)
Young Bu Fang Chi (Deborah S. Phillips, 2019-2020)
July ’71 in San Francisco, Living at Beach Street, Working at Canyon Cinema, Swimming in the Valley of the Moon (Peter Hutton, 1971)
Images of Asian Music (A Diary from Life 1973-74) (Peter Hutton, 1974)
ISM ISM (Manuel de Landa, 1979)
Jet Pilot (Josef von Sternberg, 1957)
Jeune femme à sa fenêtre lisant une lettre (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 1983)
La Vallée close (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 1983-1995)
Venise n’existe pas (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 1984)
Keep in Touch (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 1987)
Les Antiquités de Rome (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 1989)
Juste avant midi (Pascal Auger, 1986)
Kamera (Camera, Dietmar Brehm, 1997)
Kha Uebertragung – Les Embaumées (Maria Klonaris, 1979-1980)
Selva. Un portrait de Parvaneh Navaï (Maria Klonaris, 1983)
Kodak (Tacita Dean, 2006)
La Chambre (Chantal Akerman, 1972)
Portrait d’une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1994)
La Nouba des femmes du Mont Chenoua (The Nubah of the Women of Mount Chenoua, Assia Djebar, 1977)
La Vache qui rumie (Georges Rey, 1969)
Le Film est déjà commencé ? (Has the Film Started Yet? Maurice Lemaître, 1951)
Les Bas-fonds (The Lower Depths, Jean Renoir, 1936)
Les Heures (Martine Rousset, 1990)
Lichtspiel, Schwarz-Weiss-Grau (Lightplay: black, white, gray, László Moholy-Nagy, 1930)
Looking for Mushrooms (Bruce Conner, 1996)
Mann & Frau & Animal (Valie Export, 1970-73)
My Hustler (Andy Warhol & Chuck Wein, 1965)
Nelda (Piero Bargellini, 1969)
Transferimento di Modulazione (Transfer of Modulation, Piero Bargellini, 1969)
Standard Time (Michael Snow, 1967)
Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967)
One Second in Montreal (Michael Snow, 1969)
Pasadena Freeway Stills (Gary Beydler, 1974)
Passage du desir (Jakobois, 1988)
Passagen (Lisl Ponger, 1996)
Picture and Sound Rushes (Morgan Fisher, 1974)
Projection Instructions (Morgan Fisher, 1985)
Utah Sequences (Nancy Holt, 1970)
Pine Barrens (Nancy Holt, 1975)
Sun Tunnels (Nancy Holt, 1978)
Pup y pup (Michael Rudnick, 1977)
schwarzhuhnbraunhuhnschwarzhuhnweißhuhnrothuhnweiß oder put-putt (Werner Nekes, 1967)
Rode Molen (Red Mill, Esther Urlus, 2013)
Sans titre (Helmut Nickels, 1976-77)
Scenes From Under Childhood (Stan Brakhage, 1967-1970)
The God of Day Had Gone Down Upon Him (Stan Brakhage, 2000)
Soft Fiction (Chick Strand, 1979)
Spiral Jetty (Robert Smithson, 1970)
Stephen Long (Patricia Johanson, 1968)
Sunlight, Floating, Afternoon (Reel 6) (Barry Gerson, 1970)
Sunset to Sunrise (Dan Graham, 1969)
Surface Tension (Hollis Frampton, 1968)
Swamp (Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson, 1971)
Systema (Françoise Thomas, 1984)
Taris, roi de l’eau (Taris, Jean Vigo, 1931)
Testamento y vida interior (Narcisa Hirsch, 1976)
Usuzumi No Sakura (The Cherry Tree with Gray Blossoms, Sumiko Haneda, 1977)
The Merry Widow (Ernst Lubitsch, 1934)
The Shepherd of the Hills (Henry Hathaway, 1941)
The Tenth Legion (Warren Sonbert, 1967)
Transparency (Ernie Gehr, 1969)
Vagues à Collioure (Jean Michel Bouhours, 1991)
Vers la Dame Jouanne (Jennifer Burford, 1993)
Vulva (Marcelle Thirache, 1992)
Woman They Almost Lynched (Allan Dwan, 1953)
zzz: Hamburg Spezial (Hans Scheugl, 1968)

Film Festivals

(S8) Mostra de Cinema Periférico
Courtisane Film Festival
Festival des Cinémas Différents et Expérimentaux de Paris (Paris Festival for Different and Experimental cinema)
Henri – Cinémathèque Française
Festival Punto de Vista (Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival)
Xcèntric – Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

L’Enfant qui a pissé des paillettes

Salvador Amores

Programmer (FICUNAM), editor (El Cine Probablemente) and critic, Mexico City

Twenty-five favourite new films

AKYN (Poet, Darezhan Omirbayev, 2021)
Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)
earthearthearth (Daïchi Saïto, 2021)
Fabian oder Der Gang vor die Hunde (Fabian: Going to the Dogs, Dominik Graf, 2021)
For Dan (Luke Fowler, 2021)
Gūzen to Sōzō (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
Higit (Tug, Jon Lazam, 2021)
House of Love (Pierre Creton, 2021)
Inteurodeoksyeon (Introduction, Hong Sang-soo, 2021)
Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021)
Outside Noise (Ted Fendt, 2021)
Passaporta + Dansaert (Nicky Hamlyn, 2021)
Petite Solange (Axelle Ropert, 2021)
Renate (Ute Aurand, 2021)
Singing in Oblivion (Eve Heller, 2021)
Train Again (Peter Tscherkassky, 2021)
Un monde flottante (Jean-Claude Rousseau, 2021)
Untitled (34bsp) (Philipp Fleischmann, 2021)
Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas (Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, Edwin, 2021)
Wood and Water (Jonas Baak, 2021)


A Proposal to Project in Scope (Viktoria Schmid, 2020)
Histoire des cheveux (Sibérie) (Boris Lehman, 2020)
Of This Beguiling Membrane (Charlotte Pryce, 2020)
Spy no tsuma (Wife of a Spy, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2020)
The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) (C.W. Winter, Anders Edström, 2020)

Seventeen older films discovered or rediscovered in 2021, exclusively at screenings in Mexico City

¡Átame! (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! Pedro Almodóvar, 1989)
Chung Hing sam lam (Chungking Express, Wong Kar-wai, 1994)
Crash (David Cronenberg, 1996)
Fa yeung nin wa (In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
Fluchtweg Nach Marseille (Ingemo Engström, Gerhard Theuring, 1977)
Hishū monogatari (A Tale of Sorrow, Seijun Suzuki, 1977)
Kagerô-za (Heat Shimmer Theater, Seijun Suzuki, 1981)
Kapone ōi ni naku (Capone Cries a Lot, Seijun Suzuki, 1985)
Kawachi Karumen (Carmen from Kawachi, Seijun Suzuki, 1966)
Liebelei (Playing at Love, Max Ophüls, 1933)
Mélodrame (Melodrama, Jean-Louis Jorge, 1976)
Tōkyō nagaremono (Tokyo Drifter, Seijun Suzuki, 1966)
Un soupçon d’amour (Paul Vecchiali, 2020)
Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)
Vivre sa vie (My Life to Live, Jean-Luc Godard, 1962)
Yumeji (Seijun Suzuki, 1991)
Zigeunerweisen (Seijun Suzuki, 1980)

I abstained from partaking in any “online film festivals” this year – I don’t derive much pleasure from them. The happiest I was these past twelve months was when discovering the world of Seijun Suzuki on 35mm at Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City.

Capone Cries a Lot

Geoff Andrew

Freelance film critic, lecturer and BFI programmer

New films

The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)
Lingui (Mahamet Saleh Haroun, 2021)
The Dance (Pat Collins, 2021)
The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes, 2021)
The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021)
Babardeala cu  bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, Radu Jude, 2021)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Ahmir Thompson, 2021)
No Sudden Move (Steven Soderbergh, 2021)
Benediction (Terence Davies, 2021)
Passing (Rebecca Hall, 2021)
Undine (Christian Petzold, 2020)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (Joel Coen, 2021)
Parallel Mothers (Madres paralelas, Pedro Almodóvar, 2021)
Paris Calligrammes (Ulrike Ottinger, 2020)
The Worst Person in the World (Verdens verste menneske, Joachim Trier, 2021)
Un Monde (Playground, Laura Wandel, 2021)
È stata la mano di Dio (The Hand of God, Paolo Sorrentino, 2021)
Sheytan vojud nadarad (There Is No Evil, Mohammad Rasoulof, 2020)
Întregalde (Radu Muntean, 2021)
Les Olympiades, Paris 13ème (Paris, 13th District, Jacques Audiard, 2021)

Recent and old films first seen in 2021

J’accuse (An Officer and a Spy, Roman Polanski, 2019)
Örökbefogadás (Adoption, Márta Mészáros, 1975)
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020)
Antoine et Colette (Antoine and Colette, François Truffaut, 1962)
Keep It for Yourself (Claire Denis, 1991)

Cinema Antiviral.

Online Film Club in Mexico City created during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mila (Apples, Christos Nikou, 2020)
Phoenix (Christian Petzold, 2014)
Paris Calligrammes (Ulrike Ottinger, 2020)
A szerdai gyerek (The Wednesday Child, Lili Horvát, 2015)
Le sorelle Macaluso (The Macaluso Sisters, Emma Dante, 2020)
Diqiu zuihou de yewan (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Bi Gan, 2018)
Babardeala cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, Radu Jude, 2021)
Das melancholische Mädchen (Aren’t You Happy?, Susanne Heinrich, 2019)
Sylvio (Kentucker Audley, Albert Birney, 2017)
Da xiang xidi erzuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018)
Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
Fucking with Nobody (Hannaleena Hauru, 2020)
El Planeta (Amalia Ulman, 2021)
Blutsauger (Bloodsuckers, Julian Radlmaier, 2021)
Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle (Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream, Frank Beauvais, 2019)
Mishehu Yohav Mishehu (All Eyes Off Me, Hadas Ben Aroya, 2021)

For what purposes do some contemporary directors use the academic aspect ratio (1.37:1)?
Is all World Cinema counter-cinema?
How do intensive narratives operate and how do extensive narratives operate?
In what ways do books appear in contemporary cinema?
Is the difficulty of the filmic text an ideal to which contemporary filmmakers should aspire?
Are there differences (formal, thematic, etc.) between a film directed by a man and one directed by a woman?
How much is an animal’s life worth?
Is the counter-cinema only made up of “good” films?
Can the value of film be elsewhere and not in the places we look for it?
What are the functions of melodrama today?
Is there anything for which cinema is more efficient, prone, adequate, suitable, prone, effective, competent?
What is cinema?
Whose film is it?
Why does a director or a film go unnoticed?
How do you rediscover a director or a film?
What happens when a film recreates moments that really happened?
How do you tell a life on screen?
Is the best cinema for children the one that is not made with them in mind?
Should film festivals be a space to develop films?
Do millennials dream of heterosexual romantic love?
In a film that makes fun of everything, what remains?
Is comedy a bourgeois genre?
Where is militant cinema today?

Lady Lazarus

Martyn Bamber

Contributor to Senses of Cinema and has film reviews published in the book Are You In The House Alone? A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999

10 favourite new release films from 2021 in the UK, listed in alphabetical order

Annette (Leo Carax, 2021)
Le daim (Deerskin, Quentin Dupieux, 2019)
The Disciple (Chaitanya Tamhane, 2020)
The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2021)
Nagwonui bam (Night in Paradise, Park Hoon-jung, 2021)
Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma, 2021)
Pig (Michael Sarnoski, 2021)
Souad (Ayten Amin, 2021)
Sweet Thing (Alexandre Rockwell, 2020)
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Zack Snyder, 2021)

Wittgenstein Plays Chess with Marcel Duchamp, or How Not to Do Philosophy

Jennifer Lynde Barker

Associate Professor of Animation and Film History, Director of Film Studies at Bellarmine University, Louisville, USA

Top 10 favorite films in 2021, listed alphabetically 

 Five New Films

Archipel (Archipelago, Félix Dufour-Laperrière, 2021)
Fabian oder Der Gang vor die Hunde (Fabian – Going to the Dogs, Dominik Graf, 2021)
Retfærdighedens ryttere (Riders of Justice, Anders Thomas Jensen, 2020)
Ryū to sobakasu no hime (Belle, Hosoda Mamoru, 2021)
Wittgenstein Plays Chess with Marcel Duchamp, or How Not to Do Philosophy (Amit Dutta, 2020)

Five Old Films

Adam 2 (Jan Lenica, 1968)
L’Amour à la mer (Love at Sea, Guy Gilles, 1964)
Die innere Sicherheit (The State I Am In, Christian Petzold, 2000)
Lån meg din kone (Lend Me Your Wife, Edith Carlmar, 1958)
La Piscine (The Swimming Pool, Jacques Deray, 1969)

Mike Bartlett

Mike Bartlett writes about film at Mike’s Movie House

Ten best new-ish films seen for the first time in 2021

Aniara (Pella Kagerman, Hugo Lilja, 2018)
Benedetta (Paul Verhoeven, 2021)
Caniba (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel, 2017)
Dangsin-eolgul-apeseo (In Front Of Your Face, Sang-soo Hong, 2021)
Gûzen to sôzô (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021)*
Liberté (Albert Serra, 2019)
Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021)**
The Souvenir: Part II (Joanna Hogg, 2021)
La vérité (The Truth, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2019)
Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)

*Doraibu mai kā (Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021) was also pretty damn good.
**With some reservations.

Most overrated balderdash of the year

Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony PornRadu Jude, 2021)
Lazzaro felice (Happy as Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)
Saint Maud (Rose Glass, 2019)

Reflections on Covid: Part II

I only streamed from one film festival this year: Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna. Like last year, the selection of films was limited but well presented. For me, the most important discoveries were:

De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen (The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short,
Andre Delvaux, 1965)
Esa pareja feliz (Juan Antonio Bardem, Luis García Berlanga, 1953)
Kummatty (Govindan Arivindan, 1979)

The London Film Festival and London’s Korea film festival were back in theatres, marking the first time I’d been back in a cinema since this whole sorry saga started. It was bliss. The BFI’s delayed Japanese cinema season has also thrown up some long-lost gems:

Shitoyakana kedamono (The Graceful Brute, Yuzo Kawashima, 1962)
Yoru no tsuzumi (Night Drum, Tadashi Imai, 1958)

Shout out to the independent DVD/Blu-Ray companies who have kept going and provided us with the most pleasure at this time. I’d particularly like to single out Second Run in the UK, whose devotion to reviving the classics of Czech cinema is quite beautiful. Check out Juraj Herz’s adaptation of Beauty and the Beast (1978), among many others.

I also kept myself going with the mahoosive Criterion Bergman box set, the BFI’s BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas box set and some Peckinpah. Strange times.

Nicolas Bartlett

Writer for Slash Film and Critical Popcorn

2021 film releases, by UK release date

  1. The Green Knight (David Lowery, 2021)
  2. Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)
  3. Inside (Bo Burnham, 2021)
  4. Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2021)
  5. The Father (Florian Zeller, 2020)
  6. The Power Of The Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)
  7. Pig (Michael Sanorski, 2021)
  8. The Suicide Squad (James Gunn, 2021)
  9. Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020)
  10. Passing (Rebecca Hall, 2021)
  11. The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2021)
  12. The Last Duel (Ridley Scott, 2021)
  13. Censor (Prano Bailey Bond, 2021)
  14. No Sudden Move (Steven Soderbergh, 2021)
  15. Candyman (Nia DaCosta, 2021)
  16. Last Night In Soho (Edgar Wright, 2021)
  17. Tick Tick, Boom! (Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2021)
  18. Ron’s Gone Wrong (Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine, Octavio E. Rodriguez, 2021)
  19. The Harder They Fall (Jeymes Samuel, 2021)
  20. Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (Destin Daniel Cretton, 2021)

Older films I saw for the first time this year

  1. Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsey, 1999)
  2. La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
  3. Sanshō Dayū (Sansho The Bailiff, Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)
  4. Haishang Hua (Flowers Of Shanghai, Hou Hsang Hsien, 1998)
  5. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
  6. Dai-bosatsu Tōge (The Sword Of Doom, Kihachi Okamoto, 1966)
  7. Gokseong (The Wailing, Na Hong-Jin, 2016) 
  8. Modern Romance (Albert Brooks, 1981)
  9. Ich Seh, Ich Seh (Goodnight Mommy, Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, 2014)
  10. Saint Maude (Rose Glass, 2019)
  11. The Kid Detective (Evan Morgan, 2020)
  12. Widows (Steve McQueen, 2018)
  13. Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995)
  14. Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974)
  15. The Invisible Man (Leigh Whannell, 2020)
  16. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2014)
  17. Monsieur Klein (Mr Klein, Joseph Losey, 1976)
  18. Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992)
  19. Dead Presidents (The Hughes Brothers, 1995)
  20. Bill (Richard Bracewell, 2015)

La vache qui rumine

Arta Barzanji

Iranian cineast based in Philadelphia
  1. Zeros and Ones (Abel Ferrara, 2021)
  2. Earthearthearth (Daïchi Saïto, 2021)
  3. Doraibu mai kâ (Drive My Car, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
  4. Abstract Eternalism (Ken Jacobs, 2021)
  5. Train Again (Peter Tscherkassky, 2021)
  6. Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)
  7. Benedetta (Paul Verhoeven, 2021)
  8. Gûzen to sôzô (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
  9. Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021)
  10. Ras vkhedavt, rodesac cas vukurebt? (What Do we See When We Look at the Sky?, Alexandre Koberidze, 2021)
  11. Cry Macho (Clint Eastwood, 2021)
  12. The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes, 2021)
  13. Madres Paralelas (Parallel Mothers, Pedro Almodóvar, 2021)

Amarsanaa Battulga

Associate editor and Chinese cinema columnist at ChinaNauts

The following includes, in no particular order, the most memorable and most rewarding film experiences I’ve had in 2021—not only in terms of film content but also the occasion and the context.

Films released for the first time in 2021

Yeman ren ruqing (Barbarian Invasion, Chui Mui Tan, 2021) – the 2021 Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF)
Dongbei hu (Manchurian Tiger, Geng Jun, 2021) – SIFF 2021
The Contrary Route (Abolfazl Jalili, 2021) – SIFF 2021
Xuanya zhi shang (Cliff Walkers, Zhang Yimou, 2021) – aestheticizing the mainstream/“main melody” film
Encounter (Michael Pearce, 2021)

Older films encountered for the first time in 2021

Ye ma fen zong (Striding Into the Wind, Wei Shujun, 2020) – released in Chinese theaters in November 2021 after the director’s next film Yongan zhen gushi ji (Ripples of Life, 2021) won top awards at the 2021 Pingyao International Film Festival
Dou niu (Cow, Guan Hu, 2009)
Bai ri yan huo (Black Coal, Thin Ice, Diao Yinan, 2014)
Wuya yu maque (Crows and Sparrows, Zheng Junli, 1949)
Tuikai shijie de men (Forever 17, Kit Hung, 2019) – Cinema Comrades screening program at the 2021 Chinese Visual Festival
Fu cheng mi shi (Mystery, Lou Ye, 2012)
Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan (Sergei Bodrov, 2007)
Ting che (Parking, Chung Mong-Hong, 2008)
Hrútar (Rams, Grímur Hákonarson, 2015)
Festen (The Celebration, Thomas Vinterberg, 1998)
Xi zao (Shower, Zhang Yang, 1999)
Beijing zazhong (Beijing Bastards, Zhang Yuan, 1993)
Ermo (Zhou Xiaowen, 1994)
Yiqie dou hui you de (We Will Have Everything, Jiang Nengjie, 2020)
Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959)
Libre et assoupi (Nice and Easy, Benjamin Guedj, 2014)

Film weeks, festivals, and screening programs

The 14th Love Queer Film Week (formerly Beijing Queer Film Festival), where I worked as a volunteer, opened with Tsai Ming-liang’s Rizi (Days, 2020) and closed with Xiaopei He’s Zhonghua huai nvren (Bad Women of China, 2021). It included some thirty more queer films and, in fact, the sheer existence of the event proves significant in the current social and cultural climate in mainland China.

The 24th Shanghai International Film Festival seemed to attract cinephiles for its old restored films more than the new features. Tickets for the 4K-restored Yim ji kau (Rouge, Stanley Kwan, 1987), Ruan Lingyu (Center Stage, Stanley Kwan 1991), and Bakha satang (Peppermint Candy, Chang-dong Lee, 1999) sold out immediately whereas Dongbei hu (Manchurian Tiger, Geng Jun, 2021)—the Best Feature Film winner—saw half its audience walk out eventually while the other half stayed, that is, stayed on their phone.

Contemporary Murmurings of China’s New Ethnic Minorities, organized by the Chinese Independent Film Archive, brought together seven films of seven filmmakers from five “ethnic minorities” in China. Although the online live discussion with the filmmakers leaves something to be desired, I was reminded of a comment on Douban, China’s IMDb with social media functions: “You know it is unripe, but it’s the ripest you can find for now.”

Raphaël Bassan

French Film critic for Bref, le magazine du court métrage and Europe, revue littéraire. Co-founder of Collectif Jeune Cinéma: the first French experimental filmmakers’ distribution cooperative in 1971

Sound of Metal

In no particular order.

Dasatskisi (Beginning, Déa Kulumbegashvili, 2020)
Berlin Alexanderplatz (Burhan Qurbani, 2020)
Hytti nro 6 (Compartment No. 6, Juho Kuosmanen, 2021)
Dorogie tovarishchi! (Dear Comrades! Andrei Konchalovsky, 2020)
sheytân vojūd nadârad (There Is No Evil, Mohammad Rasoulof, 2020)
Doraibu mai kā (Drive My Car, Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
Shatranj-e baad (The Chess Game of The Wind, Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)
Petrovy v grippe (Petrov’s Flu, Kirill Serebrennikov, 2021)
Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, Radu Jude, 2021)
Nowhere Special (Uberto Pasolini, 2020)
Verdens verste menneske (The Worst Person In The World, Joachim Trier, 2021)
Une histoire d’amour et de désir (A Tale Of Love And Desire, Leila Bouzid, 2021)

A number of films released in France in 2021 aim, metaphorically and/or more literally, to weave together a sort of modern-day “saga” that makes back-and-forth observations between the intimate and the political, the past and the present, implying the discomforts in our democracies that have sometimes become “democraturs.” Where do I begin? Be they the worst of the past (as in Dear Comrades!) or the worst of the present (as seen in There is No Evil).

Let’s try it the other way around.

Drive My Car
 is a film that remains in the field of creation from beginning to end, expanding the possibilities of hybridisation between the created work (in this case, Chekov’s Uncle Vanya) and the various improvisations that actors of different languages and cultures make. This would be ideal to accomplish. Nowhere Special depicts the anguish of a dying father looking for a place (wherever it may be) to shelter his son. The Worst Person in the World describes the doubts and somewhat difficult daily life of a young Norwegian woman trying to reconstruct herself. A Finnish girl and a Russian aggressive man meet in a train in Compartment No. 6. Juho Kuosmanen subtly highlights very different perspectives on life and interpersonal relationships.

A Tale of Love and Desire, a very sophisticated film, develops an intriguing equation. A young Frenchman of North African origin overly inhibited by a rigorous education is faced with his feelings for a much more open-minded young Tunisian woman. The film demonstrates that there are numerous ways to interpret religion. Berlin Alexanderplatz is a successful update of Alfred Döblin’s 1929 novel, in which the hero is an immigrant from Guinea-Bissau trying to find his place in modern Germany.

The ambiguity between past and present takes on apocalyptic overtones in Kirill Serebrennikov’s latest film, Petrov’s Flu, where the decay of modern Russia is equated with the past of the USSR that the anti-hero discovers in shards of alcoholic nightmare. This is the past that veteran Andrei Konchalovsky describes in Dear Comrades! with the dryness of a fictionalised documentary, revealing the story of repression in a small Soviet city in 1962 that remains secret to this day.

BeginningThere is No Evil and Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn deal with the “democratur.” In the first film, a woman with different religious beliefs than the majority is brutalised by a police officer after filing a complaint when the church she belongs to is burned down by villagers. Rasoulof tells four stories of Iranian citizens who were forced by the regime to execute death row inmates as a form of ordinary labor. Radu Jude, who lives theoretically in a democracy, describes the mentality of city dwellers that attack a teacher whose intimate video has been pirated and who is the target of the most despicable sexist and racist bullying.

These questions were already relevant at the turn of the twentieth century, as evidenced by Mohammad Reza Aslani’s masterpiece The Chess Game of the Wind (1976), which was recently rediscovered and restored and demonstrates that, despite all odds, Iranian filmmakers have always fought to impose quality film production in this region of the world.

Sean Bell

Pop Culture Blogger at Sex & the Eternal City

Five Favourite Cinema Experiences

Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020)
Zhao and producer/star Frances McDormand’s heart-rending portrait of a woman who finds a precarious, solitary life on the road preferable to one spent remembering.

Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)
While not as narratively daring as Michaela Coel’s similarly themed, I May Destroy You (2020), Fennell’s laugh out-loud satire is deliciously dark when it needs to be and allows Carey Mulligan to put her often under-appreciated chameleonic qualities to good use. More disturbingly though, and not unlike Elliot Page’s breakthrough performance in Hard Candy (2005), Mulligan’s Cassie is clearly an avenger whose outward strength belies a damaged soul.

The Father (Florian Zeller, 2020)
An extraordinary piece of filmmaking which utilises the cinematic apparatus (art direction, music, editing) to create a truly empathetic experience. This is Anthony Hopkins’ crowning achievement, supported by terrific turns from Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams cannily cast in supporting roles.

Favolacce (Bad Tales, Damiano D’Innocenzo, Fabio D’Innocenzo, 2020)
The highlight of the Italian Film Festival in New Zealand this winter. Barbara Chichiarelli, Elio Germano and an exceptional young cast bring this very grim fairy tale to gruesome real life in the not quite made it suburbs on the periphery of Rome.

No Time To Die (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2021)
This was the first film I saw at the cinema after coming out of Auckland’s extended Spring lockdown, which only served to heighten the exhilarating spectacle on screen. Linking the plot back to Spectre (Sam Mendes, 2015) (and in fact, all the other Daniel Craig-led Bond films) made for some heavy exposition at times but also set up the film’s considerable emotional pay off. Now there was real jeopardy in the set pieces because you cared about the characters – especially the man himself. Can we get an Oscar campaign going for Daniel Craig please?

Five Favourite Streaming Experiences

È stata la mano di Dio (The Hand of God, Paolo Sorrentino, 2021)
Although the catalyst for Sorrentino’s career as a filmmaker, the personal tragedy at the heart of the story does not overwhelm what is perhaps the director’s funniest and warmest film. Like playing an old mixtape on a tinny Walkman, the glow of nostalgia papers over what was the less than perfect reality.

The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)
Campion has always been interested in the complexities of male sexuality but here it takes centre stage in a slow burn character study where the manipulation of ‘masculine” roles is revealed to be a two-way street. The film’s denouement might lack the catharsis some were looking for, but it closes this twisted tale with a pleasingly icy click.

tick, tick…Boom! (Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2021) 
I know something of struggling in hospo while waiting for your big break in musical theatre and to its credit, tick,tick…Boom! articulates the suffocating milestone of turning 30 in that reality. What’s more, Andrew Garfield’s impassioned performance lets you know that determined and driven can soon turn into selfish and overbearing when living with an undiscovered genius in a cramped flat. While the score may lack the memorable tunes of Jonathan Larson’s masterpiece: Rent: Miranda has crafted an unabashedly sentimental ode to musical theatre while using the late composer’s backstory to ground the film. In a bittersweet footnote, the whimsical “Sunday” sequence, Bradley Whitford’s understated portrayal and a voice recording from the legend himself, provide an unexpected tribute to Stephen Sondheim, who joined Larson on the greater white way shortly after the film’s release.

Pig (Michael Sarnoski, 2021)
Nicholas Cage’s low-key comeback is more Babettes gæstebud (Babette’s Feast, Gabriel Axel, 1987) than John Wick (Chad Stahelski, 2014). A quietly affecting rumination on what matters in life and how grief can lead people to pour all their left-over love into a companion animal.

Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, 2019)
Aided by three fully realised performances (from a justly recognised Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci) and a soundscape that puts you in the shoes of the protagonist, Darius Marder transcends what could have easily become a “disability picture” into a story about accepting and living with silence.

Five Favourite Series

The White Lotus (Mike White, 2021)
Whether it’s a 5-star complex in Hawaii or a family run affair in Torquay, the hotel setting offers abundant opportunity for excruciating comedy. Mike White’s series treats all its characters fairly but lets no one off the hook and shows that for all our advances in inclusion and tolerance, systemic injustice, inequality and racism carries on regardless.

Mare of Easttown (Craig Zobel, 2021)
The astounding plotline of the show upended my expectations from the shocking twist in episode 5 and kept me guessing until 15 minutes before the end of episode 7. I binge watched the series in a day, but the exploration of maternal guilt brought to vivid, messy life by a talented cast and crew stayed with me for months after.

Strappare lungo I bordi (Tear along the Dotted Line, Zerocalcare, 2021)
This brief Italian animated series pulls the emotional rug from under you in the final episodes, without sacrificing any of Zeroclacare’s self-lacerating wit that has gone before or sentimentalising its serious subject matter.

Pretend It’s a City (Martin Scorsese, 2021)
Basically, Martin Scorsese lets Fran Lebowitz rip on New York, culture, sport and books and it’s hilarious. Intellectual, but never snobby. Opinionated, but never arrogant. A welcome antidote to social media.

It’s a Sin (Peter Hoar, 2021)
It’s a Sin totally gets how both wonderful and horrendous it was to come of age as a gay man in the 1980s. Unlike 120 battements par minute (120 BPM, Robin Campillo, 2017), the series eschews a historical account of the ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) movement to focus its very specific anger on the families who indoctrinated their children with the shame and internalised homophobia that contributed to their demise.


Malik Berkati

Berlin-based Swiss film critic and political scientist

For the last two years, the world has been experiencing extraordinary turbulence that has affected all sectors of society, including culture and cinema, which had already been undergoing various transformations and difficulties for several years. After two years of the pandemic, it appears that creation is an essential service to humanity. Living through this collectively also means that the seventh art must be seen on the silver screen in cinema halls. Here is a selection of 10 films seen in theaters this year.

Cenzorka (107 Mothers, Péter Kerekes, 2021) seen at the Mostra and Cottbus Filmfestival 2021. Minimal dialogue is underscored by an intense visual sensitivity, tact in the actresses’ direction as their look guides us through the action. The Slovakian director welcomes us to a world nourished by dramas and loneliness, without any pathos, that despite this contains small sparks of happiness. Kerekes makes familiar scenes feel strange, provoking fascination for an unknown universe without sliding into voyeurism.

The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021) seen at the Zurich Film Festival 2021. A western psychological drama, constructed like a puzzle that falls neatly into place as we move through the diegesis. Shot on location, the wide horizon offsets close-minded characters. Panoramic shots are punctuated by brutal scenes of toxic masculinity.

Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, Radu Jude, 2021) seen at the Berlinale 2021. An iconoclastic triptych, Jude likes to play with cinematographic forms, narrative structures and the audience to usher them down steep reflective paths. Opening with an amateur sex tape, the film then moves through three acts that plunge us into the geo-political, socio-historical topography of post-communist Romania which remains haunted by old ghosts.

Doraibu mai kâ (Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021) seen at Cannes 2021. A moment of pure magic. A work of art. Flawless narrative construction mobilises silence to say as much as words, cinematography that plays with space and claustrophobia. A mise en abyme that oscillates between theatre and cinema, without suffering any artificiality. A must-see. 

Nebesa (Heavens Above, Srdjan Dragojević, 2021) seen at Locarno 2021. A black comedy that gets darker as the story progresses and we sink into the mire of humanity. Audiences laughed heartily during the first third of the film, and nervously thereafter.  The parable recounts three stories from the same family that spans three decades: 1993 (sin), 2001 (grace) and 2026 (the Golden Calf).

La Mif ( The Fam, Fred Baillif, 2021) seen at the Berlinale 2021. In a foster home, a group of teenage girls live with their educators. As with more conventional nuclear families, they have not chosen each other, yet live under the same roof. Baillif is a social worker by trade, so he divulges a sharp look at a sclerotic and retrograde system from a place of experience. He bypasses the clichéd tropes found in documentary and fiction cinema by offering a kaleidoscopic vision of a foster home where educators (as much as the young people) are struggling with their problems and interpersonal conflicts.

Brotherhood (Francesco Montagner, 2021) seen at Locarno 2021. Montagner immerses his audience in an unusual story. Prokop Souček’s cinematography alternates between close-ups of characters’ faces and wide shots that restore the landscapes of this remote region. Valentina Cicogna’s editing compliments Montagner’s vision and these aesthetic qualities push the boundaries of documentary into a fictional dimension.

Në kërkim të Venerës (Looking for Venera, Norika Sefa, 2021) seen at Prishtina Film Festival PriFest and Cottbus 2021. What a year for Kosovar cinema! With Hive (Blerta Basholli, 2021) shortlisted for the Oscars, Luaneshat E Kodrës (The Hill Where Lionesses Roar, Luàna Bajrami, 2021) appearing in the Directors Fortnight and Pa Vend (Displaced, Samir Karahoda) in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Looking for Venera reflects all the talent, creativity and strength of female filmmakers in Europe’s youngest democracy. Sefa’s delicate, observational coming-of-age film see’s young women try to carve their own path through the traditional, hierarchical and patriarchal Kosovar hinterland. Claustrophobic frames echo the diegesis in a superb, audacious feature length debut.

La Traversée (The Crossing, Florence Miailhe, 2020) seen at Festival international du film d’animation d’Annecy 2021. This poignant film evokes children escaping war zones through paint-on-glass animation. This means each second of Miailhe’s film is the composite of 10 – 12 images painted on glass: an incredibly time consuming method with breathtaking results!

Kun Maupay Man It Panahon (Whether the Weather Is Fine, Carlo Francisco Manatad, 2021) seen at Toronto International Film Festival 2021. In equal parts disorientating and intimate, Manatad balances realistic and psychedelic aesthetics in rendering the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan on the silver screen.

Hannu Björkbacka

Hannu Björkbacka is the film and TV critic of Finnish Keskipohjanmaa newspaper since 1989

The most inspiring films of the 2021 Year of the Pandemic

  1. Hytti nro 6 (Compartment No. 6, Juho Kuosmanen, 2021)
  2. First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019)
  3. Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)
  4. The Green Knight (David Lowery, 2021)
  5. Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright, 2021)
  6. West Side Story (Steven Spielberg, 2021)
  7. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Jon Watts, 2021)
  8. The Kid Detective (Evan Morgan, 2020)
  9. The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, 2021)
  10. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)

This year in Finland, comparatively small films offered the greatest joy, pleasure and biggest surprises. After a very fine feature length debut, Cannes Un Certain regard winner Hymyilevä mies (The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, Juho Kuosmanen, 2016), director Juho Kuosmanen has leveled up to another level entirely with the fascinating Compartment No. 6. Kuosmanen’s latest work was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes, alongside Asghar Farhadi’s Ghahreman (A Hero, 2021) which I have not yet seen.

I also enjoyed the bigger (or seemingly bigger) splashes on the cinema canvas. Spielberg delivered a successful new adaptation of West Side Story. Spider-Man: No Way Home is the best Christmas film of the Covid Years. The wondrous musical Annette enabled the pop-music genius of Sparks (Ron and Russell Mael) to finally bring their full-bloomed artistry of 50 years to the silver screen.

Of the older films I saw this year, the first and foremost is Metropolitan (Whit Stillman, 1990). One of the best film debuts ever made. I had the honour to organise a screening at our ciné club in Kokkola (Finland) and found out it was the first time ever (!) Metropolitan had been seen on a cinema screen in Finland, with the exception of one screening at the Midnight Sun Film Festival when the director visited Sodankylä in 2015. Whit Stillman was very kind to us and introduced the film club premiere himself on video. We had to do an encore screening, all during the pandemic!

Nandana Bose

Nandana Bose is a film scholar, author and educator based in India

Films released for the first time in 2021 (online film fests & streaming services)

My cinematic highlights, in no particular order. For Indian films, I’ve included the regional language

  • Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, Radu Jude, 2021) via Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI) online film festival 
  • Nayattu (The Hunt, Martin Prakkat, 2021). Malayalam.
  • The Great Indian Kitchen (Jeo Baby, 2021). Malayalam.
  • Joji (Dileesh Pothan, 2021). Malayalam.
  • Jai Bhim (Victory to Bhim, T.J. Gnanavel, 2021). Tamil.
  • Mandela (Madonne Ashwin, 2021). Tamil.
  • Sherni (Amit Masurkar, 2021). Hindi.
  • Tomorrow My Love (Geetanjali Rao, 2021). Animated short via Jio MAMI online film festival.
  • The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)

Older films encountered for the first time in 2021, seen on streaming channels

  • Quo Vadis, Aida? (Jasmila Žbanić, 2020)
  • Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) – my discovery of 2021!
  • Tel Aviv on Fire (Sameh Zoabi, 2018)
  • The Disciple (Chaitanya Tamhane, 2020). Marathi.
  • Beol-sae (House of Hummingbird, Kim Bora, 2018)
  • Jugyeojuneun Yeoja (The Bacchus Lady, E J-yong, 2016) via Korean Culture Centre India online screenings
  • Nam-mae-wui yeo-reum-bam (Moving On, Yoon Dan-bi, 2019)
  • So-gong-nyeo (Microhabitat, Jeon Go-woon, 2017)
  • Rikodeo Siheom (The Recorder Exam, Kim Bora, 2011) – thanks to the New South Korean Films package on MUBI India
  • About Love (Archana Phadke, 2019, Marathi documentary) via MUBI India
  • Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955) – must-see for all film noir lovers
  • Dolores Claiborne (Taylor Hackford, 1995)
  • Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
  • Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler, 1969)
  • Comizi d’Amore (Love Meetings, Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964)
  • Don’t Look Back (D. A. Pennebaker, 1967)
  • Chronique d’un été (Chronicle of a Summer, Jean Rouch, Edgar Morin,1961)

I am yet to watch a film in a cinema hall, and simply cannot recall my last theatrical viewing! Here’s hoping 2022 will be kinder to this cinephile. 

Palestinian Women

Samuel Bréan

Paris-based translator and researcher. Co-editor of the online journal L’Écran traduit

Best new films (alphabetical order)

The Card Counter
(Paul Schrader, 2021)
The Empty Man (David Prior, 2020)
First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019)
The Green Knight (David Lowery, 2021)
Jiok (Hellbound, Yeon Sang-ho, 2021, TV)
Nomadland (Chloe Zhao, 2020)
Picasso in Vallauris (Peter Nestler, 2021)
Train Again (Peter Tscherkassky, 2021)
Vas-tu renoncer ? (Edouard and Charles, Pascale Bodet, 2021)
The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes, 2021)

Older films (chronological order)

Her Man (Tay Garnett, 1930)
Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie (Henry King, 1952)
3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves, 1957)
L.A. Plays Itself (Fred Halsted, 1972)
Maeve (Pat Murphy, 1981)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling, 1982)
Smooth Talk (Joyce Chopra, 1985)
Ricochet (Russell Mulcahy, 1991)
Deep Cover (Bill Duke, 1992)

Best film writing:
Helmut Färber, “Un film comme un autre, un film d’autrefois ou Ce qui a disparu avec le cinéma américain”, Trafic, 119, Autumn 2021.
Bill Krohn, Letters from Hollywood: 1977-2017 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2021)
Luc Moullet, Mémoires d’une savonnette indocile (Paris: Capricci, 2021)

Lightplay: black, white, gray

Collin Brinkmann

Wisconsin cinephile, writer


  1. Cry Macho (Clint Eastwood, 2021)
  2. West Side Story (Steven Spielberg, 2021)
  3. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Zack Snyder, 2021)
  4. Zeroes and Ones (Abel Ferrara, 2021)
  5. Domangchin yeoja (The Woman Who Ran, Hong Sang-soo, 2020)
  6. The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, 2021)
  7. The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2021)
  8. Undine (Christian Petzold, 2020)
  9. Jungle Cruise (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2021)
  10. The Matrix Resurrections (Lana Wachowski, 2021)
  11. The Stendhal Syndrome or My Dinner with Turhan Bey (Mark Rappaport, 2020)
  12. Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)
  13. Malmkrog (Cristi Puiu, 2020)
  14. Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)
  15. Supai no tsuma (Wife of a Spy, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2020)
  16. No Time to Die (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2021)
  17. The History of the Atlanta Falcons (Jon Bois, 2021)
  18. Her Socialist Smile (John Gianvito, 2020)
  19. Le sel des larmes (The Salt of Tears, Philippe Garrel, 2020)
  20. Old (M. Night Shyamalan, 2021)


  1. Stars in My Crown (Jacques Tourneur, 1950)
  2. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
  3. Body Double (Brian De Palma, 1984)
  4. A Passage to India (David Lean, 1984)
  5. L’innocente (The Innocent, Luchino Visconti, 1976)
  6. The Gunfighter (Henry King, 1950)
  7. Morte a Venezia (Death in Venice, Luchino Visconti, 1971)
  8. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
  9. Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
  10. I’ve Always Loved You (Frank Borzage, 1946)
  11. Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005)
  12. Ohayô (Good Morning, Yasujirô Ozu, 1959)
  13. Krótki film o milosci (A Short Film About Love, Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988)
  14. Un flic (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1972)
  15. 7th Heaven (Frank Borzage, 1927)
  16. Always (Steven Spielberg, 1989)
  17. I vitelloni (Federico Fellini, 1953)
  18. La notte (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961)
  19. Hook (Steven Spielberg, 1991)
  20. A Child Is Waiting (John Cassavetes, 1961)

Professor Samantha Broadhead

Professor Samantha Broadhead is the Head of Research at Leeds Arts University, UK. Interested in the fabric of film

It has been a great year for the horror genre, here’s a fan’s selection of the most memorable. Starting with the best:

1. Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright, 2021)
Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), an aspiring fashion designer, feels like a misfit on her course at University of the Arts London. After moving into an old boarding house, she is able to magically enter 1960s Soho where she encounters Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), a glamourous but tragic nightclub singer. This is a ghost story based on sleaze, exploitation and revenge. The acting, cinematography, special effects, music and art direction magnificently coalesce with time travel and mystery.

2. Freaky (Christopher Landon, 2021)
A slasher-styled serial killer (Vince Vaughn) swaps bodies with a young girl (Kathryn Newton) in high school, after twenty-four hours the change will become permanent. Comedy horror does not always appeal to me but this playful iteration of the genre is joyfully funny and is now on my ‘guilty pleasures’ list.

3. Midnight Mass (Mike Flanagan, 2021)
Not a film, but a miniseries. It was so innovative in capturing the zeitgeist that it must be included. Danny Anderson rightly says, “No work has so passionately tapped into the anxieties of Christianity in the wake of Donald Trump.” Hamish Linklater’s performance as the charismatic Father Paul was outstanding as was Samantha Sloyan’s portrayal of the zealot, Beverly Keane.

4. Pig (Michael Sarnoski, 2021)
Poignant performance from Nicolas Cage as he searches for his lost truffle pig. Beautiful rendition of the friendship between humans and animals.

5. Willy’s Wonderland (Kevin Lewis, 2021)
Nicolas Cage carries out his janitorial job silently with zen-like cool at the condemned Willy’s Wonderland. He undertakes his repetitive tasks while fighting a creepy collection of demonic animatronics.

6. The Stylist (Jill Gevargizian, 2021).
Claire (Najarra Townsend) is a hairstylist who seems to live vicariously through her customer’s lives but at the same time is driven to kill them for their scalps. A crisis happens when she is invited to her client’s wedding. The sobbing Claire’s twisted attempt at fitting in evokes both sympathy and repulsion.

7. IN THE EⱯRTH (Ben Wheatley, 2021)
During a global pandemic, a park scout (Ellora Torchia) escorts a scientist (Joel Fry) into a forest to check on a colleague’s (Hayley Squires) project. They fall prey to a strange man (Reece Shearsmith) who subjects them to horrible ritualistic acts. The quest of science and mysticism is evocative of Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979).

8. Halloween Kills (David Gordon Green, 2021)
Michael Myers continues to cause bloody mayhem as a soulless killing machine while encountering a vengeful, vigilante mob. It is strangely disturbing to watch an aging Myers (in spite of his history) being beaten in the street by the horde. Will ‘evil die tonight’?

9. Malignant (James Wan, 2021)
Madison (Annabelle Wallis) experiences visions of nasty murders that turn out to be real. Malignant is a stylish, contemporary horror that revisits Sigmund Freud’s 1919 essay Das Unheimliche (The Uncanny).

10. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Michael Chaves, 2021)
Taking inspiration from a real Ed and Lorraine Warren case from 1981, this film starts with an exorcism that does not end well. Curses, creepy totems and possession provide an intense challenge to the Warren’s spiritual bond to God and each other.

11. The Night (Kourosh Ahari, 2021)
This Night was the first US-produced film to have a theatrical release in Iran in 40 Years. It tells an unsettling ghost story about a family trapped in an innocuous-looking hotel.  Hotels are places where the uncanny lurks, as noted in the writing of Haruki Murakami.

12. Old (M. Night Shyamalan, 2021)
A family on a tropical holiday is tricked into spending the day on a secluded beach. After a few hours, something is causing them to age rapidly. Parents die and children become middle-aged. The film is full of contradictions. It creates a point of view that is at once intimate and alienating. The landscape is beautiful, but the events are terrifying.

13. Oxygène (Oxygen, Alexandre Aja, 2021)
After waking up in a cryogenic chamber a woman (Mélanie Laurent) realises she cannot remember how she got there, and she is fast running out of air. This simple but tense plot focusing on one character keeps the viewer on tenterhooks.

14. Don’t Breathe 2 (Rodo Sayagues, 2021)
This sequel was much better than the first film. The Blind Man (Stephen Lang) has been looking after a young girl (Madelyn Grace) who lost her parents in a house fire. Their lives are shattered when she is kidnapped and the Blind Man is devastated at the loss – he must get her back.

15. Candyman (Nia DaCosta, 2021)
Fine art and creativity are intertwined with brutal, racist oppression in the sequel to Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992). The legend returns to the gentrified neighbourhood where the horror originally began.

16. The Woman in the Window (Joe Wright, 2021)
An agoraphobic woman (Amy Adams) living alone in New York watches her new neighbors. Unfortunately, she witnesses an awful act of violence, but will anyone believe her?

Buñel in Mexico

A two-headed, four-handed, single-minded beast of an entity provided with sheer critical wit and relentlessness with which it hunts upon its doomed prey

The following films are listed in alphabetical order

Biela na bielej
(White on White, Viera Čákanyová, 2020)
Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond, 2021)
The Scars of Ali Boulala (Max Eriksson, 2021)
Songs My Brothers Taught Me (Chloé Zhao, 2015) – online premiere on Mubi in 2021
Titane (Julia Ducournau, 2021)

Honourable mention

Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence, Sergio Corbucci, 1968) Limited Edition Blu-ray (EUREKA)


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