Peter nagels


In no particular order.

Aģentūra (Agency, Alvis Hermanis, 2020). An entertaining ten part black and white serial from Latvia.
The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles, 2019)
La France contre les Robots (France against Robots, Jean-Marie Straub, 2020)
El Tango del Viudo y su Espejo Deformante (The Tango of the Widower and Its Distorting Mirror, Raúl Ruiz, Valeria Sarmiento , 1967, 2020)
Day in a Life (Karrabing Film Collective, 2020)
Westworld, Season 3 (Jonathan Nolan and others, 2020)
Last and First Men (Jóhann Jóhannsson, 2020)
Tenet (Christopher Nolan, 2020)
Mank (David Fincher, 2020)
Palm Springs (Max Barbakow, 2020)
The Trouble with Being Born (Sandra Wollner, 2020)

Walter Neto


Below are my favourite films from 2020. First, I would like to say this: art, as Maurice Blanchot beautifully put it when talking about literature, is not fully realised if it stays with its author, for the author cannot read their own work. It is an audience’s job to do so, it needs reception. It sucks not to be able to see a film on the big screen but if that means more than having your film seen, something was already lost in the communal experience of going to the movies.

Best films seen at an online film festival:
Fauna (Nicolás Pereda, 2020)
Druk (Another Round, Thomas Vinterberg, 2020)
朝が来る / Asa Ga Kuru (True Mothers, Naomi Kawase, 2020)
Zabij to i wyjedz z tego miasta (Kill It and Leave This Town, Mariusz Wilczyński, 2020)
Luxor (Zeina Durra, 2020)
Səpələnmiş Ölümlər Arasında (In Between Dying, Hilal Baydarov, 2020)
Phantom Ride (Stephen Broomer, 2019)
Sin señas particulares (Identifying Features, Fernanda Valadez, 2020)

Best films released on VOD platforms or streaming:
Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, 2020)
Ya no estoy aquí (I’m No Longer Here, Fernando Frias, 2020)
Όταν Κοιμάσαι Ο Κόσμος Αδειάζει (As You Sleep The World Empties, Vasilis Kekatos, 2020)
First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2020)

Andy Norton


Les Blancs (Yaël Farber, UK, 2020)
Shown as part of the National Theatre at Home event, this excellent filmed performance of the acclaimed play is a real tour de force of stage acting, with themes that are incredibly poignant for such a turbulent year.

Nude Triumphant (Leo Crane, UK, 2020)
Shown as part of London Animation Club’s fundraiser for Kerry’s Cancer Treatment, this exquisite short film is a love letter to painting figures. Leo Crane is a filmmaker to watch.

Wings (Jamie Weston, UK/US, 2020)
An emotionally balanced romantic short, with great casting including the likes of Miriam Margolyes, and told in a mostly silent manner, Wings tells a love story between two women who first become acquainted during World War 2.

The Turning Point (Steve Cutts, UK, 2020)
Cutts takes no prisoners in this riveting animated short. Released before the global pandemic, The Turning Point holds up a mirror to reveal the true state of human nature and its destruction of nature.

Toto (Marco Baldonado, Canada, 2020)
Shown as part of the online We Are One Film Festival, this low-key sci-fi piece has an interesting premise of an elderly grandmother befriending this titular character, a robotic assistant.

Feels Good Man (Arthur Jones, US, 2020)
An interesting documentary profiling the comic book artist behind the character behind Pepe the Frog, a frog character that ends up being used by the Internet as a meme for all kinds of misdemeanours. Fascinating, and somewhat demanding, it profiles the strengths and weaknesses of owning a character through the Internet Age and the pitfalls of being used for numerous memes too.

Athanor: The Alchemical Furnace (Jan Danhel, Adam Olha, Slovakia/ Czech Republic, 2020)
Fans of Jan Svankmajer are in for a treat with Athanor, an interesting documentary profile of this acclaimed filmmaker. Die-hard fans will love the juxtaposition of his vast back catalogue with his everyday musings.

Kama’aina (Kimi Lee, US, 2020)
Following the journey of a teenager seeking refuge in Hawaii, this solid drama whimsically explores its themes, making this slice-of-life very accessible.

The Invisible Man (Leigh Whannell, Canada/Australia/USA, 2020)
An action-packed remodelling of the original horror concept for 21st century audiences to lap up and enjoy.

Misbehaviour (Philippa Lowthorpe, UK/France, 2020)
This is a promising period piece chronicling the feminist highjacking during the 1970 Miss World competition. It is entertaining in its execution whilst bringing the famous protest to a new generation of viewers to understand in a not-too-fluffy kind of way.

The Invisible Man

Veton Nurkollari


Films I can’t forget in a year I desperately want to forget!


  1. Last and First Man (Jóhann Jóhannsson, 2020)
  2. Dick Johnson is Dead (Kirsten Johnson, 2020)
  3. Time (Garrett Bradley, 2020)
  4. Gunda (Viktor Kossakovsky, 2020)
  5. Collective (Alexander Nanau, 2019)
  6. A Metamorfose dos Pássaros (The Metamorphosis of Birds, Catarina Vasconselos, 2020)
  7. Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (Billy Ross IV, Turner Ross, 2020)
  8. American Utopia (Spike Lee, 2020)
  9. Notturno (Gianfranco Rosi, 2020)
  10. The Mole Agent (Maite Alberdi, 2020)


  1. Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
  2. Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
  3. Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles, 2019)
  4. First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019)
  5. Lovers Rock (Steve McQueen, 2020)
  6. DAU. Natasha (Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel, 2020)
  7. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman, 2020)
  8. Mank (David Fincher, 2020)
  9. The Assistant (Kitty Green, 2019)
  10. Nabarvené ptáče, (The Painted Bird, Václav Marhoul, 2019)

First viewing
First viewing of some unforgettable films from a variety of platforms, including Blu-ray restorations and streaming services:

Primary (Robert Drew, 1960)
Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964)
Il Bidone (The Swindle, Federico Fellini, 1965)
The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui, 1969)
A Simple Event (Sohrab Shahid-Saless, 1974)
Still Life (Sohrab Shahid-Saless, 1974)
Where Is the Friend’s House (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987)
Bashu, the Little Stranger (Bahram Beyzai, 1989)
Life, and Nothing More (Abbas Kiarostami, 1992)
Through the Olive Trees (Abbas Kiarostami, 1994)
Vive L’Amour (Tsai Ming-liang, 1994)
Salaam Cinema (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1995)
The Mirror (Jafar Panahi, 1997)
Sicilia! (Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub, 1999)
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)

Online Festivals
The following three festivals I ‘attended’ included exceptional programming. They also had excellent communication before and during the festival and almost flawless streaming experience. Most of them focus on local and regional cinemas too making them even more precious in these difficult times when attending in person was not possible.

Visions du Reel and Winterthur International Short Film Festival, in Switzerland
IDFA, in The Netherlands
Mar del Plata Int’l FF, in Argentina

Alison o’daniel

  1. Virela Vitalina (Pedro Costa, 2019) – I saw at Sundance at a late night screening. I arrived a little late, begged the volunteer to let me in, then watched in dismay as a steady stream of audience left throughout the entire film. Nonetheless, it was the best film I saw this year!
  2. Nuestro tiempo (Our Time, Carlos Reygadas, 2018) – played on Mubi. One of the most beautifully structured and edited films I’ve seen in a while – like flowing down a river. I’ve been very thankful for online screening platforms like Mubi and Criterion this year.
  3. Points North CIFF and True/False (Non-fiction film festivals) – True/False was in person as everything was beginning to shut down. Great film programming and an incredibly supportive local community. Points North CIFF was entirely online and I participated in the Pitch forum. The entire festival programming team is very special! Again, such good films.

Darragh O’donoghue


Ten best films (etc.) released for the first time in 2020
There are many period films in the list. As if I was trying to escape an awful present or something…

Ammonite (Francis Lee, 2020)
Favolacce (Bad tales, Fratelli D’Innocenzo, 2020)
Bloody nose, empty pockets (Bill Ross IV & Turner Ross, 2020)
Little women (Greta Gerwig, 2019)
Lovers rock (Steve McQueen, 2020)
The personal history of David Copperfield (Armando Iannucci, 2019)
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a lady on fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
Mes provinciales (A Paris education, Jean Paul Civeyrac, 2018)
Shirley (Josephine Decker, 2020)
Zoey’s extraordinary playlist (Richard Shepard et al, 2020)

Best performance: Delroy Lindo in Da 5 bloods (Spike Lee, 2020). Lee’s revisionist historiography ends up repeating the same Orientalist clichés as the predecessors it seeks to displace – American trauma worked out in somebody else’s backyard (The deer hunter, Apocalypse now, Platoon). But Lindo’s ferocious humanity showed up much of 2020 film (etc.) for the middlebrow toe-dipping it was.

Mixed feelings: Ultraviolence (Ken Fero, 2020), a damning inventory of Black deaths in British police custody. Ideologically, the film is the last gasp of Corbynism – images of the lost leader are lingered over with fatuous reverence – and ends with an irrelevant yet obligatory statement of anti-Semitism, sorry anti-Zionism. But the CCTV footage of what effectively amounts to extra-judicial murder deserves a privileged place in the history of ontological cinema alongside early Lumière actualités, the Zapruder film, and Radu Jude’s The marshal’s two executions (2018).

Best older films encountered for the first time in 2020
2020 gave me the time to plug some of the deplorable gaps in my film (etc.) knowledge.

Khlib (Bread, Nikolai Shpikovsky, 1929)
The sign of the cross (Cecil B. deMille, 1932)
Tarzan the ape man (W.S. van Dyke, 1932)
Hands across the table (Mitchell Leisen, 1935)
Come and get it (Howard Hawks & William Wyler, 1936)
Marihuana (Dwain Esper, 1936)
Big city (Frank Borzage, 1937)
Outcast (Robert Florey, 1937)
Unashamed: a romance (Allen Stuart, 1938)
Le diable au corps (Devil in the flesh, Claude Autant-Lara, 1947)
Corridor of mirrors (Terence Young, 1948)
The Lusty Men (Nicholas Ray, 1952)
Glen or Glenda (Edward D. Wood Jr., 1953)
Thérèse Raquin (Marcel Carné, 1953)
Bayou (Harold Daniels, 1957)
Wsród ludzi (Among men, Wladyslaw Slesicki, 1960)
Splendor in the grass (Eliz Kazan, 1961)
El Naser Salah el Dine (Saladin, 1963), Awdat al ibn al dal (Return of the prodigal son, 1978), and Iskanderija… lih? (Alexandria… why?, 1979) – Youssef Chahine
Yûkoku (Patriotism, Yukio Mishima, 1966)
Cybele: a pastoral ritual in five scenes (Donald Ritchie, 1968)
A walk with love and death (1969) and Fats City (1972) – John Huston
I clowns (The clowns, Federico Fellini, 1970)
Petrolejové lampy (Oil lamps, 1971) and Morgiana (1972) – Juraj Herz
Mosāfer (The traveller, Abbas Kiarostami, 1974)
Coilin and Platonida (James Scott, 1976)
Cría cuervos (Carlos Saura, 1976)
Dharam Veer (Manmohan Desai, 1977)
Postriziny (Shortcuts, Jirí Menzel, 1981)
Sophie’s choice (Alan J. Pakula, 1982)
Silkwood (Mike Nichols, 1983)

Several Sridevi masterpieces – Sadma (Balu Mahendra, 1983), Jaag utha insan (K. Vishwanathan, 1984), Sultanat (Mukul Anand, 1986), Aulad (Vijay Sadanah, 1987), Majaal (K. Bapaiah, 1987), Naaka bandi (Shibu Mitra, 1990), Laadla (Raj Kanwar, 1994), and Judaai (Raj Kanwar, 1997)

Yentl (Barbra Streisand, 1983)
Body double (Brian de Palma, 1984)
To sleep with anger (Charles Burnett, 1990)
A Comédia de Deus (God’s comedy, João César Monteiro, 1995)
Hamlet (Michael Almereyda, 2000)
Twenty thousand streets under the sky (Simon Curtis, 2005)
Were the world mine (Tom Gustafson, 2008)
Community (Anthony Russo & Joe Russo et al, 2009-2015)
BoJack Horseman (Joel Moser et al, 2014-2020)

World of tomorrow
(2015) and World of tomorrow, episode two: the burden of other people’s thoughts (2017) – Don Hertzfeldt [episode three was slightly disappointing]

Car share (Peter Kay, 2015-2020)
Insecure (Melina Matsoukas et al, 2016-)
Koe no katachi (A silent voice, Naoko Yamada, 2016)
Love & friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
Barry (Bill Hader et al, 2018)

Best retrospective: Carole Lombard at the BFI, London.
Best multimedia exhibition: Michael Clark, cosmic dancer at the Barbican, London.
Best online cinematic experience in 2020: The world went to hell in the proverbial handbag in 2020, and couldn’t care less about the cinephilic hang-ups of a fat, bald, middle-aged manic depressive. But you asked…

Psychologically, I was unable to separate the experience of watching movies on the same laptop I had to use to work from home – the misery of the latter affected any pleasure that could be expected from the former. And in any case, as I look over my records, I find that I can’t remember the vast majority of films I have apparently seen online this year. Which probably indicates mere senility, but may be confirmation of the insights of Marker and Rivette into how the physical projection of analogue film actually works on our memory.

So my greatest joy in 2020 was a routine repertory screening of High Sierra (Raoul Walsh, 1941) in 35mm with an analogue audience at the BFI in the short reprieve between lockdowns in November and December. Even the fogging up of my glasses caused by the obligatory facemask perversely enhanced my viewing. Normally I try to leave my harassed brain at home and surrender wholly to spectacle and sensation, but now I was repeatedly forced out of utopian plenitude by Verfremdungseffekts never dreamed of by Brecht or Mulvey.

[That said, grateful thanks to London Film Festival for the opportunity to see most of the films in my top ten and more.]


andreea pĂtru 


Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020)
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (Bill Ross IV & Turner Ross, 2020)
Malmkrog (Cristi Puiu, 2020)
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman, 2020)
Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020)
Last and First Men (Jóhann Jóhannsson, 2020)
Los Conductos (Camilo Restrepo, 2020)
Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
Ta fang jian li de yun (The Cloud in Her Room, Zheng Lu Xinyuan, 2020)
A media voz (In a Whisper, Heidi Hassan & Patricia Pérez, 2019)

Point and Line to Plane (Sofia Bohdanowicz, 2020)
Was wahrscheinlich passiert wäre, wäre ich nicht zuhause geblieben (What Probably Would Have Happened, If I Hadn’t Stayed at Home, Willy Hans, 2020)
Giòng Sông Không Nhìn Thấy (The Unseen River, Phạm Ngọc Lân, 2020)
Sun Dog (Dorian Jespers, 2020)
Clean with Me (After Dark) (Gabrielle Stemmer, 2019)
Os olhos na mata e o gosto na água (The Eyes in the Woods and the Taste in the Water, Luciana Mazeto, Vinícius Lopes, 2020)
Explaining the Law to Kwame (Roee Rosen, 2020)
Look Then Below (Ben Rivers, 2020)
We Still Have to Close Our Eyes (John Torres, 2019)
O Black Hole! (Renee Zhan, 2020)

antoni peris 


Some movies forced me to consider life both from personal and social points of view. Mainly El año del descubrimiento (The year of the Discovery, Luis López-Carrasco, 2020), where the director uses restaurant conversations of supposedly common people (as a matter of fact nonprofessional actors who received instructions to comment on some social or personal subjects) to analyse Spain’s social and political trajectory in the last three decades. Also The forbidden reel (Ariel Nasr, 2019) where Afghan history and cinema are so intertwined that the former is explained through the latter, allowing an understanding of Afghan history as a rough and contradictory flow. History is also understood this way in the fictional Last words (Jonathan Nossiter, 2020), where an apocalyptic sci-fi story puts a mirror up to the public. What are our lives for? Do we make them worth living? What is the sense of art and, specifically, cinema in life itself, what are the benefits of it for mankind or individuals? The end of mankind linked to a “cough virus” makes us ponder our life and the impact of cinema on us. It’s nice to greet a last and optimistic arrival, the new Pixar product, full of hope and trust in life as it is: Soul (Pete Docter, Kemp Powers, 2020).

Life is hard on many people around the world. It’s to the poorest or less privileged that some directors turned their eyes to, in many different ways, either in the UK, South Africa, Portugal, Belgium, the United States, Filipinas or China: Bait (Mark Jenkin, 2019), This is not a burial, it’s a resurrection (Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, 2019), Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019 ), Ghost tropic (Bas Devos, 2019), Give me liberty (Kirill Mikhanovsky, 2019), The halt (Lav Diaz, 2019), Dwelling under the Fuchun Mountains (Chun Jiang Shui Nuan, Xiaogang Gu, 2019).

Other movies pointed out the inconsistency of common criteria assumed as untouchable, such as geniality as a main reason for art creation (Bliss, Joe Begos, 2019), hierarchical order in army (Monos, Alejandro Landes, 2019; Abou Leila, Amin Sidi-Boumediène, 2019) or nationalism as essential to identity (Synonymes, Nadav Lapid, 2019; Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi, 2019).

Finally there were directors who used genre to establish a starting point for their plot or focus: the antihero in Possessor (Brandon Cronenberg, 2020) or the palindromic Tenet (Christopher Nolan, 2020).

New directors appear with real strength in their narratives and mise en scène, taking once again old starting points to develop new paths, such as Saint Maud (Rose Glass, 2019), My heart can`t beat unless you tell it to (Jonathan Cuartas, 2020) or Rent-a-pal (Jon Stevenson, 2020). Fortunately there is also reunion with old “friends”, who go on with their peculiar careers and bring exciting new proposals: the dysfunctional story and enjoyment of Kajillionaire (Miranda July, 2020), the disturbing I’m thinking of ending things (Charlie Kaufman, 2020) and the soothing images of a tender friendship story, First cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019).

Finally three considerations on what the pandemic has brought to us

  • Paradoxically, the confinement allowed us to enjoy movies we had missed such as, in my case, the filmography of Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, 2001; Southland tales, 2006; The box, 2009) or the epic The epic of Everest (Captain Noel, 1924).
  • Many projects were cut or even cancelled. Nevertheless directors keep minds alive and the situation has been transferred to images. Zoom application appears to effectively and timely spread terror in Host (Rob Savage, 2020), maybe the fastest answer of terror cinema to the pandemic. On the other hand, the anxiety, uneasiness and malaise of 2020 appears perfectly in screen (whether so considered or not during film production) in Un efecto óptico (An optical illusion, Juan Cavestany, 2020) and She dies tomorrow (Amy Seimetz, 2020).
  • Last but not least the big question… are the cinemas going to disappear? Is the cinema as we know changing forever to live on platforms? We’ll get the answer soon, whatever it is, whatever the consequences may be.

andréa picard 


New features (alphabetical order):
Beginning (Dea Kulumbegashvili, 2020)
Domangchin Yeoja (The Woman who Ran, Hong Sang-soo, 2020)
El año del descubrimiento (Luis López Carrasco, 2020)
Fauna (Nicolás Pereda, 2020)
Isabella (Matías Piñeiro, 2020)
Lovers Rock (Steve McQueen, 2020)
Malmkrog (Manor House, Cristi Puiu, 2020)
Notturno (Gianfranco Rosi, 2020)
Ping jing (The Calming, Song Fang, 2020)
Rizi (Days, Tsai Ming-Liang, 2020)
The Inheritance (Ephraim Asili, 2020)
The Last City (Heinz Emigholz, 2020)
The Two Sights (Joshua Bonnetta, 2020)
The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) (C.W. Winter & Anders Edström, 2020)
Undine (Christian Petzold, 2020)

New Shorts (alphabetical order):
Apparition (Ismaïl Bahri, 2019)
Figure Minus Fact (Mary Helena Clark, 2020)
Point and Line to Plane (Sofia Bohdanowicz, 2020)
The House Was Quiet (Ben Rivers, 2020)
The Red Filter is Withdrawn (Minjung Kim, 2020)
While Cursed by Specters (Burak Çevik, 2020)

Best online experiences:
Sky Hopinka’s tremendously moving and intimate slideshow reading in real time, titled “Around the Edge of an Encircling Lake” for the Images Festival, Toronto. The vulnerability of the artist met that of the spectator and transcended the medium. I watched and listened from my bathtub in Toronto.

Oliver Husain’s hour-long, real-time, and charmingly loopy streaming choreography piece, Streamy Windows presented as part of the “Immaterial Architecture (online)” exhibition at Art Museum at the University of Toronto. I watched and listened from a sofa on Miscou Island, New Brunswick.

Milan pribisic 


We Are Who We Are (Luca Guadagnino, 2020)
Never Sometimes Rarely Always (Eliza Hittman, 2020)
First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019)
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
Fin de siglo (End of the Century, Lucio Castro, 2019)
And Then We Danced (Levan Akin, 2019)
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kaufman, 2020)
Mank (David Fincher, 2020)

The Bigamist

catherine putman


Carol Morley’s #Fridayfilmclub in Lockdown 2020
Lockdown ‘Part One’ and Lockdown ‘The Sequel’ in the UK gave me the opportunity to discover new films and revisit films that I had not seen for decades. 20 of these films were introduced to me during ‘Part One’ by the British independent filmmaker Carol Morley (The Alcohol Years, Dreams of a Life, The Falling, Out of Blue) via #Fridayfilmclub on Twitter. Having avoided social media for years, I joined Twitter solely for the opportunity to be part of this eclectic community of film lovers, and I have not looked back.

Missing the collective nature of the cinema experience, Morley set up #fridayfilmclub on Twitter. She would announce the film on Twitter, and everyone would watch at the same time: 8pm every Friday for 20 weeks. The premise was: we all watch together and discuss (or just read other filmclubbers’ tweets) the film afterwards. Morley specifically chose films that were free to stream as she understood many people may be suffering financially. 15 of the films were directed by women. The full list included:

The Bigamist (Ida Lupino, 1953)
Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley, 2008)
A Star is Born (William Wellman, 1937)
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
Charade (Stanley Donen, 1963)
Boarding House Blues (Josh Binney, 1948)
Meet John Doe (Frank Capra, 1949)
Death is a Caress (Edith Carlmar, 1949)
Craig’s Wife (Dorothy Arzner, 1936)
Starstruck (Gillian Armstrong, 1982)
Sound it Out (Jeanie Finlay, 2011)
Tremble all you Want (Akiko Ooku, 2017)
13th (Ava Duvernay, 2016)
Salt of the Earth (Herbert J. Biberman, 1954)
Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991)
The Widow (Park Nam-Ok, 1955)
Chowringhee Lane (Aparna Sen, 1981)
Olivia/The Pit of Loneliness (Jacqueline Audry, 1951)
Street Corner/Both Sides of the Law (Muriel Box, 1953)
Collective: Unconscious (Lily Baldwin, Nuotama Bodomo, Daniel Patrick Carbone, Josephine Decker, Lauren Wolkstein, 2016)

Whilst I could not make the 8pm showing every week, I made it to most of the ‘live’ screenings and was fully rewarded after the film with the (sometimes-frenzied) lively and diverse twittering. Some clubbers preferred just to say if they enjoyed the film, whereas many participants were more analytical and suggest readings and/or other films to go alongside the screened film.

My personal highlights were – in order of appearance: Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Sound it Out, 13th, Salt of the Earth, Daughters of the Dust, Chowringhee Lane, Olivia and Street Corner. The latter film, which generated much discussion was directed by the prolific and greatly overlooked British filmmaker, Muriel Box, who between 1952 and 1964 directed 13 films. This is staggering, considering no other female British director has directed more than eight films.

Women are at the heart of the majority of Box’s films which explore the complex lives of women and Street Corner is of no exception. Filmed on location in London, it observes the social climate of the early 1950s and the new spectacle of women police officers. One scene that resonates with me is where a young girl performs a handstand against a wall. A true visionary and innovator, Box turns the camera on its head to frame the upside-down rooftops from the girl’s point of view. The topsy-turvy frame also leads to the discovery of a neglected baby who has climbed out of a high window. The following rescue sequence is played out with onlookers and a real fire engine, prescribing to the tenets of social realism.

Since the screening of Street Corner, Morley has spoken passionately about Box on The Film Programme, inviting people who have any memories of Box to get in touch. She also calls for a ‘rallying cry’ for a box set of Box’s oeuvre – a “Box of Box”. I am ashamed to say that I had not heard of Muriel Box before #Fridayfilmclub; however, #Fridayfilmclub was like film studies – a place to learn – without the pressure of essay deadlines. One audience member suggested #Fridayfilmclub was “part film studies, part Saturday morning pictures and part Friday night at the disco,” which sums it up perfectly.

bérénice reynaud

Co-Curator, Film at REDCAT. Faculty, CalArts. Delegate, San Sebastian International Film Festival. Former Program Consultant, The Viennale.

Films released for the first time in 2020 (festivals, cinemas, streaming services). In alphabetical order of the director’s family name:

Time (Garrett Bradley, 2020) – seen at Sundance.
Downstream to Kinshasa (En route pour le milliard, Dieudo Hamadi, 2020) – seen in Cannes Virtual Market, June 22-26.
Never Barely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman, 2020) – seen at Sundance, world premiere. Then internationally premiered in Berlin.
ma ɬni—towards the ocean, towards the shore (Sky Hopinka, 2020) – seen at Sundance.
Nasir (Arun Karthick, 2020) – premiered in Rotterdam, seen at AFI FEST (virtual). October 15-22.
An Old Lady (69 se, Lim Sun-ae, 2019) – premiered in Busan, seen in Cannes Virtual Market, June 22-26.
Should the Wind Drop (Si le vent tombe, Mora Martirossyan) – seen at the AFI FEST (virtual).
Mother (Mazâ, Tatsushi Omori, 2020) – seen in Cannes Virtual Market.
Paris Calligrammes (Ulrike Ottinger, 2020) – premiered in Berlin, seen in Cannes Virtual Market.
Blood of the Family Tree (Christine Panushka, 2020) – seen in a private streaming situation, premiered at REDCAT in October.
There Is No Evil (Sheytan vojud nadarad, Mohammad Rasoulof, 2020) – premiered in Berlin, seen in the remote screenings of the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Ping jing (The Calming, Song Fang, 2020) – premiered in Berlin, seen in a private streaming situation.
The American Sector (Courtney Stephens, Pacho Velez, 2020) – premiered in Berlin, seen at the AFI FEST.
The Earth is Blue as an Orange (Iryna Tsilyk, 2020) – premiered at Sundance, seen in Cannes Virtual Market.
Identifying Features (Sin Señas Particulares, Fernanda Valadez, 2020) – premiered at Sundance, seen in a private screening situation.
Metamorphosis of the Birds (A Metamorfose dos Pássaros, Catarina Vasconcelos, 2020) – premiered in Berlin, seen in San Sebastian Cinemateca.
Bad Roads (Pohani Dorogi, Natalya Vorozhbit, 2010) – premiered in Venice, seen at the AFM On Demand Virtual Market.

Older films re-encountered in 2020 (seen in festivals, cinémathèques, re-releases, home entertainment, streaming channels, etc.)

Two films by Cheryl Dunye, restored by UCLA Legacy Project: The Watermelon Woman (1996) [shown at AFI FEST (virtual), Oct 15-22] and Stranger Inside (2001) [shown at OUTFEST (virtual), July 16-26]

daniel ribas


This brief memory of 2020 is dedicated to Vicente Pinto de Abreu, who passed away in the middle of the year. He was the most generous and encyclopaedic cinephile I ever knew. We miss him very much. I know he would be proud of my screening list of this year: a Nicholas Ray’s complete retrospective. The following text lists the ten films I liked most in 2020, by screening order.

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019) A caring portrait of a forbidden love, full of desire and a delicate mise en scène.

Uncut Gems (Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, 2019) Fast and furious, gentle and violent, beautiful and sad.

O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019) The proof of vitality from the New Galician Cinema, the best beginning of a film in the year. So much power and aesthetic tour de force.

A Metamorfose dos Pássaros (The Metamorphosis of Birds, Catarina Vasconcelos, 2020) How to reinvent the force of life from the “dead” letters of a lost love? Vasconcelos does a gentle hybrid essay film about family and tenderness.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman, 2020) Two years ago, Beach Rats sent me a message. This year, Hittman delivered the most minimalistic and yet compassionate film of a complicated coming of age.

Om det oändliga (About Endlessness, Roy Andersson, 2019) Humanity as itself. Loneliness and coldness.

First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019) A parable of love; but also, of the world and its powers.

Lovers Rock (Steve McQueen, 2020) Bodies, touch, music, lovers. Dance, dance, dance.

Undine (Christian Petzold, 2020) We will always search for the ultimate love. And we always will find just an image of it.

DAU (a project by Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, 2019) A very polemic and questionable project, but which deserves being seen and talked about. Humanity in its madness: crime and punishment.


Stuart Richards

  1. 10. Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020)
  2. 1917 (Sam Mendes, 2019)
  3. Little Women (Greta Gerwig, 2019)
  4. Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen (Sam Feder, 2020)
  5. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)
  6. Welcome to Chechnya (David France, 2020)
  7. The Assistant (Kitty Green, 2019)
  8. Minari (Lee Isaac Chung 2020)
  9. High Ground (Stephen Johnson, 2020)
  10. Babyteeth (Shannon Murphy 2019)

peter rinaldi

  1. Shithouse (Cooper Raiff, 2020)
  2. Time (Garrett Bradley, 2020)
  3. Dick Johnson is Dead (Kirsten Johnson, 2020)
  4. Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach, 2019)
  5. Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always (Eliza Hittman, 2020)

There were many great films this weird year. After these 5 the floodgates open. The two most surprisingly impacting things I’ve seen this year were a short film called Youngest by Nat Wolff, and a collection of films made by the students of Caveh Zahedi called The Art of Oversharing. I hope more people get to see those in 2021.

Peter Rist


As bad as the last four (Trump) years have been, 2020 has clearly been the worst, and for me, personally, probably the worst year since the end of World War II, when I was very young. Before the Quebec pandemic “lock down” in mid-March, I was able to go to the Cinema on about 40 occasions, and then I made another eight visits during the brief summer “opening” before the second “lock-down” which never was – with most businesses (not cinemas or restaurants) and schools open. So, only seven of my 20 films for 2020 were seen in the cinema, and the rest on discs, cable television (TCM), or streamed, mostly through festivals. I should mention that the smartest online festival was the compact – one programme a day except Sunday and the two Saturdays – Giornate del Cinema Muto, with really nice introductions by Jay Weissberg and terrific after screening discussions, book launches and music master classes.

My top 20 films seen for the first time in 2020, up until December 10 (in the order in which I saw them):

Christmas on Earth (Barbara Rubin, 1963): attempted reconstruction of the original screening as part of the Barbara Rubin and the Exploding New York Underground (Chuck Smith, 2018) show at the Cinéma Moderne; January
Synonymes (Nadav Lapid, 2019); Cinéma du Parc, January
El vampire negro (The Black Vampire, Román Viñoly Barreto, 1953); Noir City festival, San Francisco, January
First Cow, (Kelly Reichardt, 2019); Cinéma Moderne, March
The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack, 2018); MUBI, streamed, April
Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles, 2019), rental, streamed, April
Çiroka Bajarên Wêranbûyî: Singal (Stories of Destroyed Cities: Shengal, Sêro Hindê, 2020); YouTube, streamed, June
It Must Be Heaven (Elia Suleiman, 2019); Cinéma Moderne, July
Canción sin nombre (Song Without a Name, Melina Léon, 2019); Cinéma Moderne, July
Nadia, Butterfly (Pascal Plante, 2020); Cineplex Forum, July
“Voglia di viaggiare/The Urge to Travel,” a programme of nine short films (1911-1939); Giornate del Cinema Muto, streamed on YouTube, October: the perfect start to an online, “distanced” film festival
Ta fang jian li de yun (The Cloud in Her Room, Zheng Lu Xinyuan, 2020); Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, streamed, October
Chansil-ineun bogdo manhji (Lucky Chan-sil, Kim Cho-hee, 2019); Korean Film Festival (Canada and Republic of Korea), streamed, November
City Hall (Frederic Wiseman, 2020); Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal (RIDM), streamed, November
Krabi 2562 (Anocha Suwichakornpong & Ben Rivers, 2019); Blu-ray disc, November
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020); streamed official Fox Searchlight screener, November
Trotocalles (Streetwalker, Matilde Landeta, 1951); YouTube (no subtitles), December
Three shorts, Making and American Citizen (Alice Guy Blaché, 1912), A Man’s a Man (Guy Blaché, 1912),
The Thief (Guy Blaché, 1913); Blu-ray, December
Small Axe I: Mangrove (Steve McQueen, 2020); Prime, streamed, December
O Ébrio (The Drunkard, Gilda de Abreu, 1946); TCM, December: the highlight of the “Women Make Film” series – a film I have wanted to see since I studied Brazilian film under Robert Stam in 1977.

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