Thursday, July 28, 2022

Best Films from Austria, Belgium, Greece, Holland, Ireland, and Switzerland

Doing a deep dive into a specific region or nation’s cinema often reveals blindspots and gaps in one’s knowledge. This proved to be case when compiling a list of top films from Austria, Belgium, Greece, Holland, Ireland, and Switzerland for Wonders in the Dark’s “Rest of Europe” spotlight. The gaps again highlight the lack of viable legal options to see many classic films from these six nations. There are some exceptions though when it comes to older films from these regions such as Chantal Akerman’s 1975 film Jeanne Dielman and Paul Verhoeven’s 1973 Turkish Delight, both of which are easily available. The oldest film in this list is Michael Cacoyannis’s 1956 Greek film A Girl in Black and that isn’t a surprise because until the late 1990s, his films such as Stella (1955), Zorba the Greek (1964), Attila 74 (1975) were the most common Greek films available to rent on VHS tapes at my local video stores (yes those physical spaces). Next most common Greek films available were those of Theo Angelopoulos. Things changed after 2010 when newer Greek films became available due to works of New Greek cinema playing at most film festivals and finding distribution after their festival runs.

Top 15 films from “Rest of Europe” Poll: Austria, Belgium, Greece, Holland, Ireland, and Switzerland

1. Homo Sapiens (2016, Austria, Nikolaus Geyrhalter)
2. L’Enfant (2005, Belgium, Jean-Pierre Dardenne/Luc Dardenne)
3. Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, Belgium, Chantal Akerman)
4. The Vanishing (1988, Holland, George Sluizer)
5. Rosetta (1999, Belgium, Jean-Pierre Dardenne/Luc Dardenne)
6. Father and Daughter (2000, Holland, Michael Dudok de Wit)
7. Turkish Delight (1973, Holland, Paul Verhoeven)
8. A Girl in Black (1956, Greece, Michael Cacoyannis)
9. The Weeping Meadow (2004, Greece, Theo Angelopoulos)
10. Lourdes (2009, Austria, Jessica Hausner)
11. The Boat is Full (1981, Switzerland, Markus Imhoof)
12. In the Name of the Father (1993, Ireland, Jim Sheridan)
13. Revanche (2008, Austria, Götz Spielmann)
14. A Town Called Panic (2009, Belgium, Stéphane Aubier/Vincent Patar)
15. Dogtooth (2009, Greece, Yorgos Lanthimos)

Honourable mention:

Man Bites Dog (1992, Belgium, Rémy Belvaux/André Bonzel/Benoît Poelvoorde)

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Best Films from Africa and Middle East

Wonders in the Dark recently concluded a Best Films from Africa and Middle East poll. The inclusion of Iran, Israel and Turkey in this poll meant that the list is vastly different than the combined results of my previous Best films from Africa and Arab World list. Here is my submitted entry. 

Top 20 films from Africa and Middle East.

1. Taste of Cherry (1997, Iran, Abbas Kiarostami)
2. Touki Bouki (1973, Senegal, Djibril Diop Mambéty)
3. Crimson Gold (2003, Iran, Jafar Panahi)
4. The Time That Remains (2009, Palestine, Elia Sulieman)
5. Soleil Ô (1967, Mauritania, Med Hondo)
6. Timbuktu (2014, Mauritania, Abderrahmane Sissako)
7. Black Girl (1966, Senegal, Ousmane Sembene)
8. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011, Turkey, Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
9. The House is Black (1963, Iran, Forugh Farrokhzad)
10. Chronicles of the Years of Fire (1975, Algeria, Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina)
11. Close-Up (1990, Iran, Abbas Kiarostami)
12. A Man of Integrity (2017, Iran, Mohammad Rasoulof)
13. Return to Homs (2013, Syria, Talal Derki)
14. A Separation (2011, Iran, Asghar Farhadi)
15. Al-mummia (The Mummy, 1969, Egypt, Chadi Abdel Salam)
16. Cairo Station (1958, Egypt, Youssef Chahine)
17. Salt of This Sea (2007, Palestine, Annemarie Jacir)
18. Tilaï (The Law, 1990, Burkina Faso, Idrissa Ouedraogo)
19. The Little Wars (1982, Lebanon, Maroun Bagdadi)
20. Waltz with Bashir (2008, Israel, Ari Folman)

Note: I have listed the primary country only for the co-productions above.

Titles by country:

Iran: 6
Senegal: 2
Palestine: 2
Mauritania: 2
Egypt: 2
Turkey: 1
Algeria: 1
Syria: 1
Burkina Faso: 1
Lebanon: 1
Israel: 1

It isn't a surprise that Iran dominates this list with 6 titles given the strength of its cinema.