Once again, most of my favourites this year first appeared in Melbourne at the Melbourne International Film Festival. In no particular order:
La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016) The opening sequence made me feel like I was watching Jacques Demy’s masterpiece Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.
For the Plasma (Bingham Bryant, Kyle Molzan, 2014) After three viewings I’m still not sure what it’s about.
Chun-mong (A Quiet Dream, Zhang Lu, 2016)
The Party (Sally Potter, 2017)
Un beau soleil intérieur (Let the Sun Shine In, Claire Denis, 2017)
Visages, villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda and JR, 2017)
Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017) The emotional pay-off is worth all the clichés you sit through in the first three quarters of the film.
Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
L’amant d’un Jour (Lover For a Day, Philippe Garrel, 2017)



2017 challenged my love for cinema, more than ever, causing me to question my own purpose as a filmmaker. Between the onslaught of comic adaptations, routine generic Hollywood run-off, sequels, remakes, and the passive (yet somehow obtrusive) nature of the modern American theatregoer, the entire ‘theatrical experience,’ left me broken and abysmally disappointed. Luckily, the future of cinema can be found on my very own television set in the comfort of my home.

By the time I submit this list, I’ll have had no way to see The Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017), which would most certainly be on here. On that note, I take my damn time to see things, so I certainly haven’t seen “enough” from this year. And I live in Florida—y’all know how hard it is to see anything foreign theatrically in these parts? For the most part, I kept this list “made in the U.S.A.” At least, “Funded in part by…”

1. Twin Peaks: The Return
(David Lynch, 2017): The monument of 2017 cinema was the return of David Lynch. There’s nothing I could say about Showtime’s offering of new episodes of Twin Peaks that hasn’t been investigated thoroughly already—with no sure answers. It’s a refreshing break from westernised storytelling in whole.

2. David Lynch: The Art Life
(Jon Nguyen, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, & Rick Barnes, 2016): Criterion Collection’s release of this documentary, gave me a sense of assurance I was on the right path myself. Pieces like The Art Life provide a profound level of catharsis for artists, and even instruction. Reminds us that there’s no right way. I’ll always appreciate a portrait of an artist.

3. Nathan for You: Finding Francis
(Nathan Fielder, 2017): “What’s the purpose?” Nathan asks in his season finale turned feature-documentary, and as he looks into the camera the line between joke and reality blurs even further. Is he referring to the show, or his own purpose? Strange for such questions to be prompted by a Comedy Central series. How perfectly beautiful and sad this was, prompting great thought past its own entity, cutting to the heart of our human function.

4. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
(Noah Baumbach, 2017): Baumbach plucks real people from the pavement and puts them on screen. He really is a filmic novelist. The subtleties in every last one of his ‘texts’ and probably most abundantly threaded, The Meyerowitz Stories, are something to behold. Between writing and performance, his characters remind us of our own universal mediocrity, regardless of ‘class.’

5. Good Time
(Benny & Josh Safdie, 2017): This came highly recommended from my peers, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m still unpacking its elusive ending, scored with the guttural vocals of Iggy Pop, but it didn’t leave me in the shallows like most heist films. Expertly crafted, this really is a film to behold for so many other reasons than its neon colour-palette. This is what Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run, Tom Twyker, 1998) could have been.

6. Blade Runner 2049
(Denis Villeneuve, 2017): A refreshing blockbuster, a perfect addendum to the original, a brilliant reflection, and a gorgeous sister. It certainly helps when the source material—literature—is strong to begin with. This film is filled with talent, in front and behind the lens. It’s great to see a blockbuster bathed in long takes; that lets us stay on a human face; where the camera isn’t obsessed with every inanimate object in the room.

7. Okja
(Joon-ho Bong, 2017): I stepped in totally enthralled with the enormous, Final Fantasy-like beast that is Okja, but very aware a film of this nature could turn into near-propaganda quickly. Okja squashed those concerns immediately. Tilda Swinton is frightening. Gyllenhaal is wild, and proving over and over what a bold artist he is. Reminiscent of Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbour Totoro, Hayao Miyazaki, 1988) with a lot more conflict. One for the kids, too.

8. The Florida Project
(Sean Baker, 2017): The word “challenging” still hasn’t found it’s way out of my daily vernacular after seeing this. As a Florida native, there’s a question of exploitation I have on one end. I still have a hard time with what seems to be a modern obsession with the lower class, from many who can’t empathise past the lens. On another hand, this film showcases my home landscape beautifully, despite gazing at its underbelly, with time to reflect on some of the more abstract notions of childhood. Willem Dafoe’s performance is elegant.

9. Cherry Bomb: The Documentary
(Mikey Alfred, 2017): A simple, home-grown documentary on the creation of Tyler, the Creator’s album of the same name. I’ve watched Tyler grow from Bastard to Flower Boy and it’s been a fascinating journey. This film showcases what could be seen as the puberty of his albums. Much like David Lynch: The Art Life, and another of note this year, Jim & Andy (Chris Smith, 2017), it’s great to watch artists work unhampered.

10. Sunshine State
(John Sayles, 2002): While most theatrical re-releases, or festival screenings, tend to flaunt a new presentation, or even a rarely seen print of the film, this screening at the Rendezvous Film Festival in Amelia Island, Florida, where Sunshine State was predominantly filmed, was from a DVD off a digital projector in a black box theatre, hosted by John Sayles and producer Maggie Renzi. Screened fifteen years later in the very theatre where a scene with Angela Bassett and Jane Alexander takes place in the film. Still as relevant as ever for all Floridians.

10.5. The Manual (Wil Magness, 2016): A transcendent sci-fi short, to say the least—it’s always delightful to find such a gem floating about the festival circuit. Caught at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival, at first glance I thought I’d hate it: post-apocalyptic is a tired genre, and has been since the early 2000s. Leave your preconceptions at the door. This is somewhere between Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) and Blade Runner 2049 (just to reference this list) and is from a young filmmaker with an incredibly thoughtful and confident voice.

The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)


  1. The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017)
  2. Le Parc (The Park, Damien Manivel, 2016)
  3. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Luc Besson, 2017)
  4. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
  5. Song to Song (Terrence Malick, 2017)
  6. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)
  7. Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)
  8. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
  9. The Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra, 2016)
  10. Le fils de Joseph (The Son of Joseph, Eugène Green, 2016)
  11. Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
  12. The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)
  13. Nelyubov (Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017)
  14. Jeannette: l’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc (Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont, 2017)
  15. Éternité (Eternity, Tran Anh Hung, 2016)
  16. A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017)
  17. Inimi cicatrizate (Scarred Hearts, Radu Jude, 2016)

HM1. Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017)
HM2. El viento sabe que vuelvo a casa (The Wind Knows That I’m Coming Back Home, José Luis Torres Leiva, 2016)
HM3. La Danseuse (The Dancer, Stéphanie Di Giusto, 2016)
HM4. Columbus (Kogonada, 2017)
HM5. Demonios tus ojos (Sister of Mine, Pedro Aguilera, 2017)


  • Arábia (Araby, João Dumans, Affonso Uchoa, 2017)
  • The Rider (Chloé Zhao, 2017)
  • Dragonfly Eyes (Xu Bing, 2017)
  • Foxtrot (Samuel Maoz, 2017)
  • Panoptic (Rana Eid, 2017)
  • A fábrica de nada (The Nothing Factory, Pedro Pinho, 2017)
  • Good Time (Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, 2017)
  • Angels Wear White, Vivian Qu, 2017)
  • Meteorlar (Gürcan Keltek, 2017)
  • Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2017)
  • The Summer is Gone (Zhang Dalei, 2016) – seen at IFFR 2017
  • Undir trénu (Under the Tree, Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, 2017)


  • The I Mine (Emilio Moreno, 2017)
  • Min börda (The Burden, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, 2017)
  • A Gentle Night (Qiu Yang, 2017)
  • Nyo vweta nafta (Ico Costa, 2017)
  • Blue Christmas (Charlotte Wells, 2017)



Here is my alphabetical list of the 10 works that stayed with me this year, despite (or because of) their imperfections. If I included one TV show in the selection, it is not as a Twin Peaks pun but due to the fact that the series has deep roots in contemporary Romanian cinema, whilst also juggling with a great deal of genre tropes in a very filmic manner:

Mzis Qalaqi (City Of the Sun, Rati Oneli, 2017)
Tesnota (Closeness, Kantemir Balagov, 2017)
Comrade Detective (Rhys Thomas, 2017)
Qing song jia yu kuai (Free and Easy, Jun Geng, 2017)
Occidental (Neïl Beloufa, 2017)
Szatan kazał tańczyć (Satan Said Dance, Katarzyna Rosłaniec, 2017)
Sashishi deda (Scary Mother, Ana Urushadze, 2017)
O gios tis Sofias (Son of Sofia, Elina Psykou, 2017)
Inxeba (The Wound, John Trengove, 2017)
Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)

As for the trend that marked 2017, to me this is the quiet evolution of hybrid documentaries into the most thrilling form out there. From festival darlings like California Dreams (Mike Ott, 2017) or BUDDAH.mov (Kabir Mehta, 2017) to experimental formats like The I Mine (Emilio Moreno, 2017) or VR project The Enemy (Karim Ben Khelifa, 2017), the audiovisual verité has now developed its own language, and narrative.



Top 25 Films of 2017

  1. Bodied (Joseph Kahn, 2017)
  2. The Shape of Water (Guillermo Del Toro, 2017)
  3. Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017)
  4. The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
  5. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)
  6. Coco (Lee Unkrich, 2017)
  7. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017)
  8. Okja (Bong Joon-ho, 2017)
  9. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
  10. The Big Sick (Michael Showalter, 2017)
  11. The Disaster Artist (James Franco, 2017)
  12. War for the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves, 2017)
  13. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
  14. I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)
  15. Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)
  16. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (James Gunn, 2017)
  17. Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin, 2017)
  18. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)
  19. Logan (James Mangold, 2017)
  20. Córki dancingu (The Lure, Agnieszka Smoczynska, 2017)
  21. Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)
  22. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
  23. Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi, 2017)
  24. Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)
  25. Gerald’s Game (Mike Flanagan, 2017)



After many years and many movies, I decided to echo those films that made an impression on me, that made me angry or puzzled, that shocked me or I really enjoyed as cinematic experience. Maybe they won’t be classics but to me they represent what I look for in the screen. This is the list:

  1. Dhogs (Andrés Goteira, 2017)
  2. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
  3. Estiu 1993 (Summer 1993Carla Simón, 2017)
  4. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
  5. Dawson City: Frozen Time (Bill Morrison, 2016)
  6. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
  7. Swiss Army Man (Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, 2016)
  8. The Woman Who Left, Lav Diaz, 2016)
  9. Rippu Van Winkuru no hanayome (A Bride For Mr Rip Van Winkle, Shunji Iwai, 2016)
  10. Cartas de guerra (Letters From War, Ivo Ferreira, 2016)
  11. Detroit (Katherine Bigelow, 2017)
  12. Mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
  13. Tesnota (Closeness, Kantemir Balagov, 2017)
  14. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2017)
  15. A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017)
  16. Correspondências (Correspondences, Rita Azevedo Gomes, 2016)
  17. Fai bei sogni (Sweet Dreams, Marco Bellocchio, 2016)
  18. Jackie (Pablo Larrain, 2016)
  19. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016),
  20. Manchester by the sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
  21. Kono sekai no katasumi ni (In This Corner of the World, Sunao Katabuchi, 2016)
  22. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)
  23. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
  24. Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
  25. My Entire Highschool Sinking Into the Sea (Dash Shaw, 2016)
  26. Christine (Antonio Campos, 2016)
  27. Big Fish and Begonia (Xuan Liang, Chun Zhang, 2016)
  28. Yoake tsugeru rû no uta (Lu Over the Wall, Masaaki Yuasa, 2017)
  29. The Shape of Water (Guillermo Del Toro, 2017)
  30. Krotkaya (A Gentle Creature, Sergei Loznitsa, 2017)
  31. Laissez bronzer les cadavres (Let the Corpses Tan, Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, 2017)
  32. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
  33. Taste of Cement (Zaid Kalthoum, 2017)
  34. Columbus (Kogonada, 2017)
  35. I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)

As specific comments, after a good and heterogeneous year of movies:

  • Although none of them are in this list, the level and boldness of horror movies this year has been interesting, both in terms of genre but also some of their insights into society’s flaws and its paranoia: It Comes At Night (Trey Edward Shults, 2017), Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017), It (Andy Muschietti, 2017)…
  • The clear statement of USA cinema looking back at 50s and 60s: Commies paranoia is back in town (The Shape of Water), the racial riots (I Am Not Your Negro, Detroit, American Pastoral (Ewan McGregor, 2017)), and need of another myths (Jackie)
  • The clear statement of British cinema looking back at glorious times: Dunkirk, Their finest (Lone Scherfig, 2017), Churchill (Jonathan Teplitsky, 2017) and Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)… sort of justifying Brexit.
  • Great breakthroughs for women in direction: Lynne Ramsay, Carla Simó, Lucrecia Martel, Kathryn Bigelow, Hélène Cattet, Maren Ade, Rita Azevedo…
  • Presence of essay (Dawson city: Frozen time, Taste of Cement, I Am Not Your Negro) and non-Pixar animation (Yoake tsugeru rû no uta/Lu Over the Wall, Big Fish and Begonia, Entire Highschool Sinking Into the Sea)
  • And, locally, satisfaction for three Spanish produced movies: Dhogs (maybe the best debut of the year), Estiu 1993 and Zama.

Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)



The LEGO Batman Movie (Chris McKay, 2017);
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach, 2017);
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017);
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017);
The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017);
Logan (James Mangold, 2017);
Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017);
Five Came Back (Laurent Bouzereau, 2017);
Oklahoma City (Barak Goodman, 2017);
Dawson City: Frozen Time (Bill Morrison, 2016); and
Kedi (Ceyda Torun, 2017)


  1. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
  2. Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
  3. Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
  4. Eight Hours don’t Make a Day (R.W. Fassbinder, 1972-73)
  5. Good Time (Josh and Bennie Safdie, 2017)
  6. Arábia (Araby, João Dumans, Affonso Uchoa, 2017)
  7. Also Known as Jihadi (Eric Baudelaire, 2017)
  8. Streetscapes (Dialogue) (Heinz Emigholz, 2017)
  9. A Fabrica de nada (The Nothing Factory, Pedro Pinho, 2017)
  10. Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
  11. Milla (Valérie Massadian, 2017)
  12. Prototype (Blake Williams, 2017)
  13. NOW (Chantal Akerman, with Claire Atherton, Marian Goodman Paris 2017)
  14. The Boat is Sinking and the Captain Lied (Prada Foundation, Venice, 2017)
  15. Jeannette: L’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc (Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont, 2017)
  16. Onward Lossness Follows (Michael Robinson, 2017)
  17. Good Luck (Ben Russell, 2017)
  18. Caniba (Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2017)
  19. Braguino (Clément Cogitore, 2017)
  20. Le fort des fous (Narimane Mari, 2017)
  21. Aliens (Luis Carrasco, 2017)
  22. Dislocation Blues (Sky Hopinka, 2017)
  23. Occidental (Neïl Beloufa, 2017)
  24. The Day After (Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
  25. Jacques Tourneur retrospective at Locarno Film Festival
  26. Farocki/Petzold, Centre Pompidou



The Best of the films I saw in 2017.

Each film year in Cuba is unavoidably dominated by the celebration of the Havana Film Festival, the only opportunity to get into contact with the best of current world cinema.  In a deprived exhibition system, with no access to online or streaming services, the only option for releases is the audiovisual package, a weekly freelance service of content. So this selection includes samples from all of these sources.

As I didn’t manage to see many great quality films this year, I thought about sending my friends last year’s selection for the World Poll again, in order to overcome, in certain way, our compulsion to simply parade and forget films gone by. But, in the end, a remarkable bunch of films appeared, even where their national, generic or cultural definitions were not as clear as years before.

This year’s Golden Palm cast its shadow on the Swedish film The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017). A satirical commentary on the European film industry and the broader art scene, it overlaps Scandinavian pioneers’ tradition, stern realism, and corrosive humour, surpassing choral and post-modern film narratives to create one of the greatest films of our time.

The Polish director Jan P. Matuszynski’s Ostatnia rodzina (The Last Family, Jan P. Matuszynski, 2016) is fascinating in the way that it shows the historical moment of the dismantling of socialism passing almost inadvertently against the biography of painter Zdzislaw Beksinski and his family. It’s a tale that is endearing, gritty and merciless at the same time.

From the poignant core of Europe there often comes the most enduring films of the continent. That is surely the case with Oh Boy (A Coffee In Berlin, Jan-Ole Gerster, 2012), in which the meeting of a young boy and an old witness of fascism, at a former spot of terror, creates one of the most resounding film scenes of recent cinema. It is a fledgling first film that is a masterpiece at the same time.

Only a Dutch filmmaker that has travelled to Hollywood, but now wants to produce a film in France, could have created such a film as Paul Verhoeven’s Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016), which seems to be based in an American exploitation script, but is filmed as unsurprisingly and relentlessly as a cutting age French film from the 1990s.

Before art cinema crossed the Atlantic, there must be Almodóvar-like filmmakers in the Old Continent. Turned now into a sophisticated artist more than just a filmmaker, he has added to his film the superb acting of “Warner Bros. heroine”- like Spanish actresses. The result, Almodóvar’s Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016).

The American dream factory always offers its detailed crafted unique films. Last year, it was La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016), in many ways so superb that you don’t notice there was almost no dance choreographed into it. But the Oscar finally bowed to Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016), three different short films disguised as a feature about a single character, but anyway more truly independent and dazzlingly photographed.

In Argentina, Spaniards mixed with Italians, their descendants read, studied and often watched French cinema. The result is a film like Alanis (Anahí Berneri, 2017); not a little jewel, as great  films from women filmmakers are often called, but a true jewel, or better, a universe filled of jewels of magic moments, which the Havana Film Festival fairly placed at the top of its crown.|

The most creative and innovative and daring proposals of South America usually come from Brazil, such as Lúcia Murat’s Praça Paris (Lúcia Murat, 2017), which really grants a voice to Afro-Brazilians  through a young black woman from the favela (Rio’s slums), trapped between the endless violence of her environment and the progressive flirting with disaster of her middle class white psychotherapist.  Another film directed by a female is Pela Janela (Caroline Leone, 2017), about a middle age woman fired from her job, leading her into a journey with her brother from Brazil to Argentina, crossing borders and states of mind and ultimately leading to self-discovery amid impressive human environments and landscapes.

The disappointing level of production in Cuban cinema was mitigated by the award-winning director Carlos Lechuga’s Santa y Andrés (Santa and Andrés, Carlos Lechuga, 2016); a low budget production (as most current independent Cuban films are), which came to fill a gap in Cuba Cinema, a return to our essence and roots through a commitment to the cultural soul of the nation.

Nevertheless, the most relevant Cuban release was a documentary from the 1960s, a television show specialised on national film, shown in its entirety of more than 2 hours. Enrique Pineda Barnet’s David, a biographical film on Frank País, one of the most important figures of the Revolutionary struggle of the 1950s, is probably the best Cuban film ever produced. A “nonfiction film” that creates the poetic aura of a narrative film, David mixes most of the audiovisual genres of expressionism, documentary, fiction, avant-garde, video art, visual arts: posters, collages, drawings, to offer the most complete and multi layered vision of a popular hero ever rendered in a film.

List of films
Ostatnia rodzina (The Last Family, Jan P. Matuszynski, 2016)
The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017)
Oh Boy (Coffee in Berlin, Jan-Ole Gerster, 2013)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016)
La la Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
Alanis (Anahí Berneri, 2017)
Pela Janela (A Window to Rosália, Caroline Leone, 2017)
Praça Paris (Paris Square, Lúcia Murat, 2017)
Santa y André (Santa & Andrés, Carlos Lechuga, 2016)
David (Enrique Pineda Barnet, 1967)




The Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse, 2016)
The Dressmaker celebrates the basic foundation of filmmaking, which is a great story, told with high humour by a fabulous cast. This gem relies on solid attention to detail in every area of production, from set design to cinematography.

Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-Wook, 2016)
The Handmaiden is a rich and lavish tale of crime and death told in several parts, set against a changing landscape of sordid acts, wrapped in Western repression, Asian eroticism and fabulous costumes.

Dave Made a Maze (Bill Watterson, 2017)
A simple box maze turns into a wonderland of experiences as its size and scope expand into a fantastical labyrinth – is it real or just a mass fantasy?

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
Based on Jane Austen’s novel, “Lady Susan Vernon”, Kate Beckinsale (playing Lady Susan) leads a rather large cast of characters as they lounge over the manicured lawns of rural countryside and London drawing rooms. Austen’s central character may not be a loveable woman on paper, but Beckinsale breathes new life into a story that is sure to captivate Austen fans everywhere.

45 Years (Andrew Haigh, 2015)
Charlotte Rampling, a jewel in England’s cinematic crown, proves yet again that films about older women should never be missed. She brings to life Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years, a story about the choices we make in our youth coming back to haunt us.

Listen to Me Marlon (Stevan Riley, 2015)
Listen to Me Marlon is a fascinating ‘tell all’ project by the only person who could really tell it all – the man himself, Marlon Brando. Stevan Riley created this documentary from a storehouse of tape recordings that the iconic actor left behind. Part confessional, part free association, Listen to Me Marlon allows us the rare opportunity to experience the person behind the persona – that little boy from Omaha who made it big.

I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
Raoul Peck’s  journey of author and activist James Baldwin’s exploration into the history of American racism through the three men that inspired him – Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.  Director Peck blends Baldwin’s words, documentary footage and cinematic images to create a contemporary narrative of The Otherness of Black and White America.

Sing (Garth Jennings, Christophe Lourdelet, 2016)
Sing is a wonderful animated film, featuring a dizzying list of popular songs, characters who are easy to identify with and the ‘dream big’ theme. Sing gives us five main characters who must battle their own insecurities and society’s expectations in order to make their dreams come true.

The Beguiled

The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017)



This is the longest list I have ever submitted to the World Poll. I really struggled to trim this down beyond these 18. Once again, there are several films, such as Lady Bird (Grea Gerwig, 2017) and Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, 2017) that are receiving major international buzz that won’t get a release in Australia till February. I was unable to catch Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) at both Frameline and MIFF this year due to programming clashes, which I have significant regrets with now. Regardless, I am very happy with the films I got to see this year. It’s been an incredibly strong year for cinema.

Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman, 2017): Exploring the fine line between machismo and homoeroticism, this is a beautiful exploration of young lust and angst.

The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017): Atmospheric, tense and unexpectedly hilarious (I think the process helped here…).

120 battements par minute (BPM (120 Beats Per Minute) Robin Campillo, 2017): Terrific use of Bronski Beat’s “Small Town Boy”. This was one of my favourite films of the year. The meeting scenes expertly presented many of the ACTUP members as individuals and valued characters. It’s a travesty that this did not make the foreign language Oscar shortlist.

Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017): Timothée Chalamet’s performance is so incredibly subtle, using his body and facial expressions to convey his deepest desires. The final credit sequence destroyed me and was one of my cinematic highlights of the year.

A Date for Mad Mary (Darren Thornton, 2016): This was the opening night choice for the 2017 Mardi Gras Film Festival. Seána Kerslake’s performance as the titular Mary is full of warmth, making this so much more than just a coming out film.

Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017): I am so thankful that I got to see this at IMAX, which was a viscerally exhausting experience.

Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea Gianfranco Rosa, 2016): This year I was a jury member for the Australian Human Rights Arts and Film Festival. Fire at Sea was the overwhelming winner of the Impact Award. Rosa’s film is masterfully constructed and utterly haunting.

Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017): Yes to explicitly political horror. Yes to Peele exploring new genres.

God’s Own Country (Francis Lee, 2017): While I think the transition to a sexual connection between the two farmhands was rushed, this was one of my favourite films at Frameline this year.

I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016): This film cuts together the past and present to allow Baldwin’s words to have a searing indictment on today. I distinctly remember being shattered for several hour after the screening at MIFF

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (Macon Blair, 2017): Melanie Lynskey gave a stand out performance in this film. Much like Okja, I do wish I had the opportunity to see this on the big screen.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017): While I don’t think this film is as strong as The Lobster, it’s still brilliantly made. The cinematography was particularly wonderful.

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016): Moonlight didn’t get an Australian release till early this year. I am very happy that I get to include this on my list this year.

Okja (Joon-ho Bong, 2017): This film destroyed me. I was an emotional wreck after seeing this. I just wish that I could to see it on the big screen.

O Ornitólogo (The Ornithologist, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2016): This film is delightfully bonkers and a visual treat. I would like to go hiking in the Portuguese wilderness now.

Visages, villages (Places, Faces, JR, Agnès Varda, 2017): I had a stupid grin on my face for the entire film. JR and Agnes Varda’s parody of Godard’s Band of Outsiders in the Louvre was another cinematic highlight of the year.

Quest (Jonathan Olshefski, 2017): This was another film I got to see as part of the Australian Human Rights Arts and Film Festival awards jury. The inclusion of Trump’s speech is particularly powerful, making this film only increasingly compelling for today’s political climate.

The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017): Östlund offers another potent satire. The “ape scene” was particularly uncomfortable.

24 Frames

24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)

PETER RIST  (Senses of Cinema Patron)


From 1 December 2016 to 30 November 2017, I went to the cinema over 310 times (including at festivals) and saw more than 350 feature films for the first time (in theatres, on TV, on aircraft, or my desk-top computer). And yet, I feel that I am way behind with new films. Among the many films/digital works from 2017 that I have, as yet, not been able to see, but really want to, are Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017), Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017) (and Grisebach’s earlier work), The Day After (Hong Sang-soo, 2017) (and Hong Sang-soo’s other two new features), and 24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017), all of which, I anticipate could be “great.” As it is, I visited three “old” film festivals – the Nitrate Picture Show at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, and two in Italy: Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, and the Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone – accounting for over 100 screenings and 80 features (plus many more shorts), that I had never seen before. So, I have made two lists – of “old” and “newish” works seen for the first time:

12 or so “old” films, in the order in which I saw them:
Night and the City (UK version, Jules Dassin, 1950): on 35mm nitrate (May, Rochester)
Until They Get Me (Frank Borzage, 1917): an incredibly advanced Western, on 35mm (June, Bologna); Secrets (Frank Borzage, 1924) was also notable, DCP
West Indies (Med Hondo, 1979): 35mm, anamorphic color print (Bologna)
Furcht (Fear, Robert Wiene, 1917): German “impressionism” before “expressionism,” 35mm (Bologna)
Mit hem är Copacabana (My Home is Copacabana, Arne Sucksdorff, 1965): A Swedish documentarian meets Brazilian Cinema Novo, DCP (July, Bologna)
El rebozo de Soledad (Soledad’s Shawl, Roberto Gavaldón, 1952), DCP (Bologna) Where would the Mexican Cine de Oro have been without Gabriel Figueroa’s cinematography?
In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950): on TV, TCM’s Noir Alley (September; How could I have possibly missed Eddie Muller’s favourite movie of all time, until now?)
Shima no musume (The Island Girl, Nomura Hotei, 1933): on 35mm, with music and effects track (October, Pordenone); a rare example of another Shochiku master silent film director
Fièvre (Louis Delluc, 1921): DCP (Pordenone)
Nebulvalyi Pokhid (An Unprecedented Campaign, Mikhail Kaufman, 1931): DCP (Pordenone)
Seven Footprints to Satan (Benjamin Christensen, 1929): Hilarious/scary, reflexive, silent spoof on the “Old Dark House” genre, with title cards by Cornell Woolrich: DCP (Pordenone)
Morænen (The House of Shadows, Anders Wilhelm Sandberg, 1924): on a beautiful, subtly shaded 35mm print (Pordenone)

20-ish “newish” works (10 male/10 female directed) in the order in which I saw them:
Happy Hour (Hamaguchi Ryūsuke, 2015): TV via vimeo (December 2016)
Dangal (Nitesh Shiwari, 2016), the most enjoyable action entertainment, on Indian wrestling sisters (January, in release)
Angry Inuk (Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, 2016): at Phi Centre; “Canada’s Top 10” (January)
Crosscurrent (Yang Chao, 2016): on desk-top computer (January): oh to see this on a big screen, to better appreciate Mark Lee Ping-Bing’s cinematography!
I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016): brilliantly edited James Baldwin documentary (February, in release)
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016): on a Cathay Pacific flight (March)
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016): in release (March)
Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017): year’s best experience with an audience (in release, April)
Visages, villages (Faces, Places, Agnes Varda and JR, 2017): in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna (incomplete, July), then in release (complete screening, November)
Matantubig (Town in a Lake, Jet Leyco, 2015): at FanTasia festival (July)
Tharlo (Pema Tseden, 2015): at the Canada-China film festival (CCIFF, September)
Un printemps d’ailleurs (A Touch of Spring He Xiaodan, 2017): at Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (FNC, October)
Era a Hotel Cambridge (Hotel Cambridge, Eliane Caffé, 2016), Brazilian film festival, Montreal (October)
Hua li shang ban zu (Office, Johnnie To, 2015): The best political musical, ever?; at To retrospective, TIFF Lightbox, Toronto (October)
Taste of Cement (Ziad Kalthoum, 2017): RIDM press screening (Montreal International Documentary Festival, October)
Un beau soleil intérieur (Let the Sun Shine In, Claire Denis, 2017): Cinémania festival (November)
Invisible City (Tan Pin Pin, 2007), and The Impossibility of Knowing (Tan Pin Pin, 2010) : 11 min., short, at RIDM (November)
In the Waves (Jacquelyn Mills, 2017): 59 min., medium-length work, at RIDM (November)
Le fort des fous (Narimane Mari, 2017): at RIDM (November)
Taming the Horse (Gu Tao, 2017): at RIDM (November)

Performer of the Year:
Sally Hawkins in Maudie (Aisling Walsh, 2016) and The Shape of Water (Guillermo Del Toro, 2017)

Clearly it is time for change in the world, generally, but especially in our domain of cinema, where we – white, heterosexual men, that is – have ruled the roost, for far too long…



New releases/festival screenings: top lucky 14
An unranked list of fourteen films that meant the most to me this year. In the order that I saw them.
Colombus (Kogonada, 2017)
Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017)
Mudbound (Dee Rees, 2017)
20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016)
Frantz (François Ozon, 2016)
24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)
The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017)
Un beau soleil intérieur (Let the Sunshine In, Claire Denis, 2017)
Dawson City: Frozen Time (Bill Morrison, 2017)
Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
Dao khanong (By the Time It Gets Dark, Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016)
Chemi Bednieri Ojakhi (My Happy Family, Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Groß, 2017)
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)

Repertory screenings
As always, a great deal of my highlights include repertory screenings, viewed whenever and wherever I can, at home or while on travels. In these cases, the films and the site of their exhibition are of equal importance. These experiences are key to my understanding and participation in cinephilia, essential to the fabric of my relationship with the cinema. For this list I have been very selective; I could easily include many more.

King Kong (Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Shoedsack, 1933). 35mm print at Metrograph, NYC. Seeing this film in a revived picture house in New York’s Lower East Side was a wonderful experience, with such a strong connection between the film and the location of my viewing.

Play It As It Lays (Frank Perry, 1972). 35mm print at Metrograph, NYC. A degraded, scratchy print of this hard-to-see film.

Hester Street (Joan Micklin Silver, 1975). 35mm print at Film Forum, NYC. This screened with Joan Micklin Silver in attendance. This presence of the filmmaker gave the screening extra significance, but it was so special, too, for the theatre’s proximity to the film’s actual locations. I had walked down Hester Street from my apartment, to the theatre. Carol Kane breaks my heart in this.

Too Young, Too Immoral (Raymond Phelan, 1962). 35mm print at Anthology Film Archives, NYC. A gritty Manhattan tale, featuring Taylor Mead’s first screen appearance. I recall a terrific sequence in the subway. This was, we were told, its first screening in more than fifty years – what a way to see a film!

Dance, Girl, Dance (Dorothy Arzner, 1940). 35mm print at Melbourne Cinémathèque. I adore this film, and got to see it on a big screen with an audience who responded to it with tangible energy. It’s like electricity.

La Roue: prologue (Abel Gance, 1923). Il Cinema Ritrovato. Gance’s 4.5 hour film is undergoing restoration, and the short prologue was exhibited on the open air screen in Bologna’s main piazza.

The Trial of Vivienne Ware (William K. Howard, 1932). Il Cinema Ritrovato. An absolute revelation to see this pre-Code comedy starring blonde Joan Bennett. Classically silly story told with absolutely thrilling pace, editing, dialogue, action, and wit. I’ve thought about this film almost daily since I saw it.

The Possession of Joel Delaney (Waris Hussein, 1972). Cinemaniacs, Melbourne. Another indulgence in my love of an historical New York City. Sensing a pattern?

High Tide (Gillian Armstrong, 1989). 35mm print at Melbourne International Film Festival. A beautiful, hard-to-see film, screened in a full theatre to an emotionally welcoming audience. Gillian Armstrong was in attendance, expressing gratitude that the film could be seen in a cinema again, for the first time since its original release run.

The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924). Melbourne Cinémathèque. Best sets, costumes, monsters. Incredible, energetic silent film, a treasure to see on the big screen. Bonus Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)



The Drift (Maeve Brennan, 2017)
Disintegration 93-96 (Miko Revereza, 2017)
Absent Wound (Maryam Tafakory, 2017)
Rose Gold (Sara Cwynar, 2017)
Sakhisona (Prantik Narayan Basu, 2017)
El mar la mar (J.P. Sniadecki & Joshua Bonnetta, 2017)
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
Spell Reel (Filipa César, 2017)
Tonsler Park (Kevin Jerome Everson, 2017)
A fabrica de nada (The Nothing Factory, Pedro Pinho, 2017)
Asparagus (Suzan Pitt, 1979)
Razzle Dazzle (Britt Al-Busultan, 2015) [performance]



Alphabetical order
After The Storm (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2016)
Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
The Day After + Claire’s Camera (Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)
La libertad del diablo (The Devil’s Freedom, Everardo Gonzalès, 2017)
Félicité (Alain Gomis, 2017)
Good Time (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2017)
Jeannette: L’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc (Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont, 2017)
Mrs. Fang  (Wang Bing, 2017)
Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)

After the Storm

After The Storm (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2016)


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