Cinema has the power to inform, entertain, educate and help us to make sense of the anarchy of existence.
Here are thirty films we have loved and that have shaped our perception of the world.
— Mary MacDougall and Tom MacDougall
30 Silver Threads
Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) Lotte Reiniger
A silent animated film based on the Arabian Nights legends with spectacular cut-out silhouettes and wonderful, expressive movement.
Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974) Rainer Werner Fassbinder
A white Polish-German woman falls for a young Moroccan man 20 years her junior, to the shocked dismay of her bigoted neighbours
Children of Paradise (1945) Marcel Carné
In the Parisian theatrical world of the 1840s, four men are in love with the mysterious Garance.
Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) Agnès Varda
A spoiled and beautiful young pop singer roams Paris while awaiting the results of a medical test. French existentialism done with a thoughtful touch.
Come Drink with Me (1966) King Hu
A Chinese martial arts film about a mysterious swordswoman named Golden Swallow who is sent to rescue a young official who has been kidnapped. Fantastic visuals and balletic fight scenes.
Dekalog (1989) Krzysztof Kieślowski
A sombre and engrossing 10-part television series inspired by the Ten Commandments. Set around an austere housing project in 1980s Poland, each stand-alone episode features characters that face serious moral and ethical dilemmas.
Fanny and Alexander (1983) Ingmar Bergman
Two siblings in 1900’s Sweden must contend with their mother’s re-marriage to an uncaring, dictatorial clergyman. A tender film.
Female Trouble (1974) John Waters
The depraved story of Dawn Davenport (played by Divine). We follow her journey from bad girl teenager, to go-go dancer, to career criminal. A subversive deep dive into celebrity and mayhem.
Flirting (1991) John Duigan
Noah Taylor and Thandie Newton star as teenagers who fall in love at a strict boarding school in rural Australia in the 1960’s. Nicole Kidman is a frosty head prefect and unlikely ally. An underrated classic.
In the Mood for Love (2000) Wong Kar-wai
A melancholic film set in 1960’s Hong Kong about two neighbours who form a relationship after both suspect extramarital activities of their spouses.
Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) Chantal Akerman
A mesmerising, experimental film about a middle-aged widow driven to desperation.
Kuroneko (1968) Kaneto Shindo
A striking supernatural thriller about a vengeful cat spirit that terrorises a samurai in 12th Century Japan.
L’Atalante (1934) Jean Vigo
A naive young woman marries a barge captain; but then slips away from his boat for the opportunity to explore Paris on her own. A raw and off-beat fairy tale.
Last Year at Marienbad (1961) Alain Resnais
At an elegant chateau, a man encounters a woman and claims they met at a spa the previous year. This dream-like film features stunning imagery, while deliberately avoiding conventional plot and character development.
Léon Morin, Priest (1961) Jean-Pierre Melville
The tale of a young war widow who is helped to work through her doubts and bitterness by a young priest. A contemplative study of grief.
Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine (2008) Marion Cajori and Amei Wallach
A disarming portrait of the artist Louise Bourgeois, filmed over 14 years.
Mishima: A life in four chapters (1985) Paul Schrader
A unique and visually compelling biopic about the great Japanese writer, Yukio Mishima. Features a score by Philip Glass.
Nashville (1975) Robert Altman
A mosaic of funny and tragic stories set in America’s country music capital. This prophetic film deals with America’s obsession with entertainment and politics.
Orpheus (1949) Jean Cocteau
Jean Marais stars in this magical adaptation of the Orpheus myth, set in a fantasy version of contemporary Paris.
Red Sonja (1985) Richard Fleischer
A fearless swordswoman sets out to avenge her family’s murder and wrestle an all-powerful talisman from an evil queen. Production design by Fellini favourite Danilo Donati.
Sansho the Bailiff (1954) Kenji Mizoguchi
In 11th-century Japan, a family is ambushed by kidnappers who sell the mother as a prostitute and the two children as slaves. An emotionally wrenching masterpiece.
Senso (1954) Luchino Visconti
An Italian countess has a self-destructive love affair with an Austrian solider in occupied Venice in the 1860’s. Lush, melodramatic and beautifully photographed.
Spirit of the Beehive (1973) Victor Erice
An absorbing childhood fable about two sisters in a Spanish village who are obsessed with Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein, and believe that an escaped convict is the monster from the screen.
Spirited Away (2001) Hayao Miyazaki
A wildly imaginative Japanese animated film about a young girl who becomes lost in an enchanted amusement park.
Ten Canoes (2006) Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr
The lives of two Indigenous Australian warriors in Arnhem Land are woven together in a film that combines adventure, comedy and anthropology.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) Luis Buñuel
A dinner party is repeatedly interrupted by odd occurrences which surrealistically skewer polite society.
The Leopard (1963) Luchino Visconti
A Sicilian prince faces social upheavals in 18th century Italy. Lavish and wistful, The Leopard features epic battles and elaborate costumes.
Tristana (1970) Luis Buñuel
After the death of her mother, a young woman (Catherine Denueve), goes to live with her much older guardian who seduces her. She escapes from him, but unfortunate circumstances force her to return.
Viridiana (1961) Luis Buñuel
A young woman soon to become a nun inherits a mansion and opens it up to a group of vagrants. Trouble ensues. An uncompromising film with baroque cinematography.
What have I done to deserve this? (1984) Pedro Almodóvar
Carmen Maura plays a middle-class housewife hemmed in by her eccentric relatives. A darkly comic descent into urban hell.