Monday, February 28, 2011

The 100 Most Influetial Canons of World Cinema

     Influence is defined as that intangible power which can affect a person, thing or course of events. Many beleive that motion pictures, more than any art form in the past century, have a profound influence on modern life. I would go further and say, it is hard to argue against that. If one accepts the tenet that directors more than any other creative force in the film production, are responsible for guiding and shaping cinema, then obviously the film directors as a group have had a vastly underestimated effect on how the society thinks and beleive. But which director has had the most influence on other directors, the style, form and content of cinema, as well as on the public? In the past 100 years, which directors have made an indelible impact on our lives and on the art of movie making process? In what ways have the filmmakers helped to define cinema as we know  and see it today? Who are the auteurs, who challanged and broke the traditional notion of filmmaking? Who amongst them have inspired the later generation of filmmakers and have left a real legacy behind? Who are the innovators in the medium of cinematic form and language?

     In the entire history of cinema, there are very few directors who has made an honest effort to rescue cinema as an art when it seems to be drowned in a sea of glamourized triviality, when human relationships on screen have been reduced to predictable banality, sloppy melodrama, extravagant gizmos and money rules the production and distribution of films. Amidst this cinematic catastrophe, crass commercialism, what puts these directors in a class of their own and catapult their films onto a height inaccessible to other filmmakers? It is first and foremost, their uncompromising stance, never to give up attitude against all odds. It is their self beleif that cinema is an art form, and they offer not only a truthful experience to the viewers of real life but also imprint their signature in the film. Their attempt to make other directors aware of the fact that the most convincing of the art demand a special responsibility on the part of those who work on it,because, the methods by which cinema affects audiences can be used far more easily and rapidly for their moral decomposition than any other means of traditional art forms. As Tarkovsky puts in his book"Sculpting in Time" "....We have reached a time when we must declare open warfare on mediocrity, greyness and lack of expressiveness, and make creative enquiry a rule in cinema....The only condition of fighting for the right to create is faith in your own vocation, readiness to serve, and refusal to compromise." An auteur will inevitably put his mark, maybe in the content or the style or both while creating his work of art.

     In todays generation, when discurssive and critical film analysis has been dispensed with, replacing it with box-office standings and popularity ratings by viewer's poll, when big money, studios and profit oriented global distribution system has a vice like grip on the filmmaking process, where there is a general apathy towards serious cinema amongst the general populace (for they use cinema as a stressbuster), where there is a general decline of cinephilia and TV soap operas and "reality" shows provide instant gratification, it is very difficult to stand out, beleive in oneself, take risk and make good cinema. Still, inspite of so many hurdles we see in today's world artists like Kiarostami, Hou Hsien Hsiao, Angelopoulos, Mike Leigh, Lars von Trier and Sokurov making the last ditch effort to save cinema in its pure form.

     The era of silent films is known as the "Golden Age" of cinema. The auteurs of this era overcame the lack of sound by producing visual brilliance. In the abscence of studio interferences these directors were free to experiment and innovate, which they successfully did and laid the foundation of modern cinematic language. Many of these directors successfully graduated into the sound era. Many of them were absolute genius. Jean Renoir describes the fascination this generation holds for its juniors, "I am pursued by the insistent questions of young colleagues for whom everything that preceded the talking film seems as distant and mysterious as the movement of the great glaciers in the prehistoric period. We elders enjoy a respect analogous to what the modern artist feels in front of the graffiti of the caves of Lascaux. The comparision is flattering and brings us the satisfaction of knowing that we weren't wasting film."

     The Golden era of Hollywood began in 1927 with the release of "The Jazz Singer" and it lasted till 1960s. The mode of production came to be known as the Hollywood studio system and the star system, which standardized the way movies were produced. All film workers (actors, directors, screenwriters,editors etc) were employees of a particular film studio. Most Hollywood pictures adhered closely to a genre                                                                                                           

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Carlos Reygadas : Films, Influence, Image and Sound - A Critical Essay

     Carlos Reygadas, the Mexican filmmaker, made his presence felt in the world cinema, by his very first feature "Japon", a haunting piece of minimalist filmmaking. Born in a well -to -do Mexican family, he studied international law and specialized in Armed Conflicts and served overseas. He was a keen sportsman too and represented Mexican national team in Rugby. Having developed an avid interest in meaningful cinema, he honed his filmic passion by watching masterpieces of Andrei Tarkovsky, Robert Bresson, Roberto Rossellini, Werner Herzog, Michaelangelo Antonioni and Carl Dreyer. During his stint in the foreign office he realized the futility of his service. "It was so pathetic," he says, "They did a great favour to me because I decided to change my life." He turned to his great love, cinema.
Carlos Reygadas

      Japon received a special mention for the Camera d'Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. His next feature Battle in Heaven competed for the Palm d'Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. In 2007, Reygadas filmed Silent Light, which went on to win the Jury Prize at Cannes.

     With three features under his belt, Reygadas has emerged as a full fledged member of a new wave of successful young Mexican filmmakers, along with Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Now he is one of the most prominent directors in world cinema. The critical analysis of his body of work seems to confluence in several aspects : his films delve in the realm of metphysicality, his style and content has been influenced by the legends of European cinema, yet by his deviation from these very influences, innovative use of sound and image and his keenness for topographical details, both macro and micro of nature and human body, he has developed a distinct oeuvre of his own.

     Japon (2002)

     Japon was shot entirely on location in Ayacatzintla, a remote village of less than 170 inhabitants. it tells the story of a middle-aged , unnamed man, probably an artist, who's in an existential crisis. He leaves his town on a journey to this remote village, amidst a rugged canyon, a place where he used to go on vacation as a child with his family. The self-condemned man seeks lodging and encounters Ascen, an old widow with countenance as corroded as a canyon and demeanour as humble as a saint, who agrees to shelter him in the smouldering stone barn attached to her dilapidated house overlooking the canyon.

     The film unfolds in a languid pace showing both of them carrying on their daily chores. The man having breakfast at Ascen's house, climbing up and down the hills, listening to Bach, smoking marijuana. Ascen washing her clothes, making his bed, cleaning up his house and making iced tea to quench his thirst. But even in these quotidian activities a silent bond unknowingly grows between them. These lengthy scenes of the man's solitary wanderings, in addition to reflecting his existential dilemma, produce a sense of delay in the film and undermine the narrative momentum, as it postpones his anticipitated suicide.

      As the man keeps wandering about, amidst the harsh nature, interacts with her, he begins to question his idea of committing suicide and finds himself with a strong sexual desire in need of satisfaction. Although dialogue is sparse, and more is conveyed by sound and images, a key exchange of words do take place between the two protagonists.

     The Man: The best things in life can't be bought, right?
     Ascen     : I really couldn't say...First explain why you came to this place?
     The Man: To be calm ... But it isn't just that. Much serenity is necessary to be left behind. The thing we're used to and don't really like anymore, we must learn to dispose off what's useless.
      Ascen    : But it's better to fix things than throw them out.
     The Man : Sure, but certain things can't be fixed. Disposing of them is better than clinging on to them out of habit.
     Ascen     : I think I understand, Sir...But you know, Sir even though I don't like my sick, old arms. I wouldn’t chop them off.
    The Man : Sure, I get you.

     In her inimicable way, Ascen teaches the man the value of life. To get back his serenity, he requires, to curb his instincts, especially sexual instincts, which is already aroused (as we see him masturbating and imagining Ascen kissing an unknown young woman earlier) and therefore he proposes to Ascen for sexual intercourse.


     The depiction of Ascen in the film repeatedly evokes the figure of Jesus Christ. When she first appears in the film, Ascen emphatically tells the man that her name is Ascension, which means "Christ ascending into heaven with nobody's help." Ascen's simplicity and goodness, attributes associated with saintliness, also embodies the man's salvation. She accepts the proposal. The only plausible explanation foe her accepting to have sex with the man would be her desire to endow the man with the appeasement he seeks, which further reinforces her saintliness.

     The film ends with her mysterious death following a railway accident which follows up her sexual encounter with the man. Like Jesus, Ascen dies in order to save the man's soul. The film leaves in suspension whether the man will now commit his planned suicide as he sobs while learning about the accident.

     Japon is ultimately about redemption and conquering one's nature. It's about uncharted spiritual love. Japon doesn't refer to a place, but to the distance one must travel to find peace of mind.

     Battle in Heaven (2005)

     In "Battle in Heaven" Carlos Reygadas depicts the struggle of a man called Marcos, within himself as he falls into a maelstrom of crime and guilt and externally with his class struggle with Ana, the general's daughter.

     Marcos is an obese native Mexican Indian, who works as a driver to a general, in addition to working as a security guard at a military fort where his duties include being part of the ceremonial cadre who raises and lowers the national flag. For Marcos, the drudgery of daily ritual has come to define his very existence. Even his employment as a driver involves a certain mundaneness of predictability, often chauffeuring Ana to her boyfriend's apartment or a clandestine brothel, where she works as a part-time prostitute.
     Regadas takes an incisive, searing look at the inherent hypocrisies of Mexico's social structures. Marcos aspires for a better life for his family. Desperate, the couple kidnap an infant child for ransom. When the baby dies, the crime adds a crushing burden to his conscience. As the film unfolds against the backdrop of the Virgin of Guadalupe week in Mexico City, Marcos' spiritual turmoil becomes increasingly visible. He undergoes a change in his attitude towards religion. At first, he seems to embody disbelief in it. This is what happens as we see Marcos commenting, "They are all a flock of sheep," when he sees a religious procession at a gas station. But as time passes, the burden of the criminal deed makes him rethink his stand on religion and ritualism. The growing weight of spirituality in his life is underlined in the sequence in which he walks alone in the countryside amidst mists and clouds, ultimately reaching the hilltop with crosses entrenched. Finally, he performs penance by embarking on a flagellation ritual, collapsing dead inside the Basilica of Guadalupe.

Marcus inflagellation ritual

     With de-dramatized, provocative and surreal imagery Reygadas explores the Class struggle of Marcos and Ana. The two confides their darkest secrets in one another. Ana and Marcos' story is of love and passion between two unequal individuals and also of manipulation and betrayal. Ana would confess her darkest secrets to Marcos and even make him complicit through secrecy and sexual favours, but when he confesses his crime to her, the Rubicon gets crossed. Equality is aspired but denied. Ana encourages Marcos to turn himself in knowing fully well that he may be executed. She now wants to dispose with the unwanted. This betrayal adds weight to the albatross already hanging around his neck and, Marcos shocked in the face of stark reality, murders her.

    This uncompromising, yet un-mistakenly humanistic film paints a canvass of the irredeemable and fractured Mexican society and Marcos' titanic struggle to redeem himself using the ritualism as a path to transcendence.

     Silent Light (2007)

     It's a timeless tale of love, betrayal, desire and sacrifice set within a remote Mennonite community in northern Mexico. Drawing loose inspiration from Dreyer's "Ordet" it revolves around a miracle, where a woman's love for her man and grief for his conjugal partner saves a turbulent marriage. The film does not dwell on religion but the Mennonite world is. Religion remains in the backdrop; in the foreground is love between individuals, lovers, husbands, wives, sons and parents. What Reygadas achieves is to nudge the viewer to perceive an all encompassing, mystical universe, enveloped in love in which we form miniscule inconsequential atoms.

     Johan, a farmer with seven children and a devoted wife, Esther, has fallen in love with another woman, Marianne. Johan is torn apart by his moral dilemma. While the tenets of his faith strictly forbid adultery, his lust and passion for Marianne overcomes his ethical moorings. He confesses his strayed ventures to Esther, his friend Zacarius and also to his father, who warned him that it "is the work of the enemy". Nonetheless, his shame is insufficient to tame his desires. In the meantime, Esther suffers silently and awaits her husband to realise his mistake and grapple with the crisis on his own. And so, while Esther waits on the sidelines of their life with her unquiet eyes, tending to children, keeping the house and harvesting crop, Johan goes through the self-created crisis of faith and faithfulness.

Johan and Marianne
     Johan and Marianne in their last sexual rendezvous (they have decided to separate unable to cope with the situation anymore), predicts the impending doom.

      Marianne : Peace is stronger than love...Poor Esther.
      Johan      : I'm afraid there's more pain yet to come, but then there will be peace and afterwards, a happiness like we've never known.

     In the most touching scene, Esther dies of Grief, drenched by torrential rain. Johan carries her dead body in the downpour to his truck, sobbing profusely. From here on the journey of Johan's grief unfolds. In the final scene, where Reygadas replicates "Ordet". the miracle that happens when Marianne kisses Esther on her lips, is less an act of faith that is more a fairy tale ending.

Ultimately, it is a contemplative cinema about transgression, regret and comprehension of human fallibility. "Silent Light" though is an allusion to love, remains silent on passing judgements. It does not judge the moral and ethical transgressions of the protagonists but lets, in a detached kind of way, the silent awareness of their acts and lives seep into you.

     Canonical Influences

     Carlos Reygadas was influenced by the works of the great masters of European cinema, particularly, Tarkovsky, Bresson, Dreyer, Antonioni and Rossellini. These cinematic influences are admitted by Reygadas himself "I like Roberto Rossellini very much, and the condition in which he had to shoot with whatever was there. Rossellini was a master at using the world as it is to create everything he needed for his stories. For me Dreyer is also great. Ordet (1954) is one of the most moving films I've ever seen in my life, a miracle of a film. Bresson is also a master, especially in the way he works with non-actors and uses sound. A Man Escaped (1956) is a personal favourite. Tarkovsky was the one to really open my eyes. When I saw his films I realized that emotion could come directly out of the sound and the image, and not necessarily from the story-telling.....In my opinion he's (Antonioni) the greatest filmmaker. "

     The realist techniques used by these auteurs are commonly seen in Reygadas' films. Firstly, his preference for non-professional actors. In all of his films the actors are amateurs, often local rustic people, as in Japon or Mennonites as in Silent Light. Even the main protagonists in Battle in Heaven are all non-actors. Reygadas is not interested in people representing something else apart from what they are, not even the role in the film. He just wants their presence and that's all. There should be no obstacle between the actual individual and the camera. And this was exactly the idea of Bresson, who said, "....acting was an obstacle between the actual individual and the camera."

     Bresson called his non-professional actors models and he wanted them to be neutral, pure and emotionless. For this, he would make his models repeat rehearsals multiple times, till they were exhausted and bereft of emotions. He would build the emotions with sound and images.

     However, Reygadas differed from Bresson in application of this principle, In the strictest sense, Reygadas' actors are not models because he doesn't model/tutor them at all. He wants his actors to give their true nature. Reygadas explains, "When you put a known face in front of the camera, you're contributing to the grand delusion of cinema. If you imagine this film (Silent Light) with Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman in the central roles, you would destroy it. You would instantly know you're watching Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman dressed as bloody Mennonites. It's not that I'm hard man to please. It's just that I don't like the whole circus, these people being recycled. To me, cinema is a fancy dress party." He has horrors for pretence and the technique of acting, preferring his cast to simply "be" - hence his decision to use non-professionals. He utters: "What I don't like about the theatre is the fact that the actors are representing roles....Theatre is interesting as a catharsis for actors because it's the only way you can be idiotic and get away with it." He distanced himself from the theatrical mode of film-making, which is the commonest practice in vogue in mainstream cinema.

     Carlos Reygadas defining principle is as he says, "Letting cinema construct the characters rather than actors constructing characters." The method that he employs is carefully and intuitively choosing the actors and building up a very good interaction and profound rapport with them. For these non-actors to deliver they need to blindly trust the director. He does not give psychological information to his actors, just give them practical, spatial, temporal information and then letting the editing and the whole of the cinematic process construct the characters. That's why he doesn't allow them to read any script and only gives a brief outline of the plot. Nor does he do any rehearsal or give them any psychological background of the characters. He trusts his actors to be just themselves. That's why he doesn't want them to express emotions. He thinks that a stronger kind of emotion can pass through if they don't emote. The meticulous methods employed by Reygadas are the result of a firm belief in the immersive power of cinema. Reygadas opines, "The most powerful quality of cinema is that the senses receive it as if it were real life. For me, that illusion is just wonderful."

     Perhaps the director who has greatest impact on Reygadas is Andrei Tarkovsky. Reygadas muses, "But of course Tarkovsky was very important to me. I mean he is a person that I will always love everything - every shot he did - He touched me very deeply and he has given me energy to want to do things." Like Tarkovsky he felt cinema is not about telling a story. Reygadas expounds, "Narrative for me is just a vehicle that is probably an evil but a necessary evil. You do need a story but I don't care about the story. So I really feel much closer to painting or music where narrative is not important." So, that's why in Battle in Heaven, Marcos' kidnapping or the suicide of the self-condemned man in Japon or Johan's unfaithfulness in Silent Light is not the central issue, but the core theme is exploring spirituality, the sublime through the internal struggle of men suffering existential crisis. And that is the most powerful thing one can try to do with cinema. It's contemplation primarily as a means to a deeper form of entertainment.

     Not only he admits to be a fan of Tarkovsky alone, but also great Russian film-makers like Dovzhenko and Sukharov. He questions the notion of popular cinema as he utters, "I really think most of what we call cinema is not cinema. It's really film theatre, or even worse, illustrated literature. The object of the film is story, the characters are just technical people representing something. Most cinema is comic books. In my opinion that is not real cinema. Real cinema is much closer to music. Music doesn't represent anything; it is just something that will convey feelings."

     In Japon, the austere pace, man in existential crisis, religious iconography 360 degree pans recall Tarkovsky maserpiece Andrei Rublev. The spiritual stuggle of Marcos, leading to his death in flagellation ritual reminds us of Tarkovsky's Nostalghia. In Battle in Heaven, when Marcos embarks on a mountain walk, makes his way into the woods and recedes from the camera in the thick canopy of fog, the hypnotic imagery is transcendent; when he crawls on his knees at a religious pilgrimage, the picture portrayed is typically Bressonian in its concept of rituals as a path for metaphisicality and the impact is harrowing. The slow-burning result may feel elusive, but they're also genuinely searching, stretching and contemplative.

     In Silent Light, in one of the most poignant image of the film, Johan's family idles around a community bathing pool. As some of the children drift languorously in the water, the parents endearingly engage in the washing up of the children. This sensuous yet gorgeous scene is a visual delight which strums a chord in our heart. Reygadas distinctly gives a Tarkovskinian touch over here, as he captures the magical, inconsequential, fleeting and tender moments of life that goes unnoticed in our life.

     Certainly, in Japon, the equation of sexual intercourse between the man and Ascen with spiritual salvation seems to have been lifted from Tarkovsky's Offret. Japon's nod to this film is evident in Reygadas' use of the same extractof Bach, featured at the end of Offret. The visual composition of one of its first scenes is also evocative of Offret's opening sequence as we see the man with a child by an enormous tree. Alexander ends up having sex with his maid-servant Maria as a means to rediscover his spirituality. But whereas Tarkovsky is more careful to tone the sexual act in the scene so as to heighten its symbolic significance, Reygadas delves into the materiality of flesh to focus on naturalism.

     Reygadas' preference for parsimonious long takes, languid pace, open landscapes with the crops swaying in the breeze, horses and religious music evoke the hallmarks of Tarkovsky's cinema. His use of real locations, religious procession can be seen reminiscent of Rossellini's films. One need to consider, for instance, the scenes of religious procession in both Rossellini's Voyage in Italy and Reygadas's Battle in Heaven. The harshness and rugged cruelty of the landscape in Japon reminds us of Werner Herzog. A thematic similarity can be drawn in the internal crisis of men contemplating suicide in both Japon and Abbas Kiarostami's A Taste of Cherry.

     Carlos Reygadas admits that Silent Light is a tribute to Ordet. Reygadas' movie takes Carl Dreyer's stoic religious parable and blends it with a tale of infidelity amongst the most religious and devoted people, the Mennonites. Silent Light is a rhapsodic, elemental fairy tale. Dreyer's style and narrative sense hang over Silent Light in many aspects. Johan's name alludes to the character of Johannes in Ordet; the scene of Johan's father symbolically restarting the clock echoes the exact same gesture performed by Anders in Ordet's final scene; the sequence of Esther's funeral in which community mourns her death by singing religious songs, sipping tea, all draws similarity between the two films. It is the sequence of Esther's dead body in the coffin and the ensuing miracle that bridges the two works. Reygadas ensures that the visual composition of this scene is almost identical to that of Ordet's most famous shot. Silent Light reproduce the positioning of the coffin at the centre of the screen between two tall candle sticks and Dreyer's celebrated "milky whiteness" by shooting in a fully white room.

     Though Silent Light is an extended homage to Dreyer's classic Ordet, but the differences are telling as well. Both films are set in isolation among the religiously devout, and both end with a moment of divine grace. But whereas Dreyer's world is narrow, stoic, suffocating and punishingly austere, Reygadas proves himself a sensualist. Ordet's fundamentally religious plot, its emphasis in the power of faith, its endorsement of a Christian theology, are entirely absent in Silent Light. Whereas though religion is present in Reygadas' film, it figures as the backdrop against which the tale of love and betrayal unfolds. It is the paradoxical mundanity of an adultery tale told in an orthodox religious community that makes the film's originality. Unlike Ordet, nowhere is the characters' belief in God or their faith in religion put to test, the film is unconcerned with the questions. Moreover, the so called miracle which apparently happens when Marianne kisses Esther on her lips seems less like an act of faith but more like an act of love, a fairy tale - taken from the pages of "Sleeping Beauty".

     His affinity with these film canons is equally verifiable in the themes running through his works. Like a considerable part of the work of these "transcendental" film-makers, Reygadas' films have religion at their core. Yet, exactly how close is Reygadas to the spiritual link drawn through physicality by these directors? Does Reygadas attempt to replicate the spiritual and moral thrust of these directors? Reygadas' films deals with a "surplus of materiality". Often the physicality which should act as the gateway to the metaphysical realm, itself becomes the focus of detailed attention.

     Subjectivity of Image and Sound

     Carlos Reygadas, influenced by the works of Tarkovsky, Bresson and Antonioni realized the magical power of visuals and soundtrack to enhance the emotions and connect to the transcendental, beyond the narrative plot. In fact, by his own admission, he inspite of seeing Nostalghia 15 times hardly remembers the plot of the movie, but the audio-visual beauty of each and every shot had a lasting impression on him. Amongst the American directors, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and Terrence Malick used sight and sound with a telling effect. Surely, Reygadas is influenced by them as well.

     In Silent Light Reygadas bookends his film with mesmerizing slowly panning images of a sunrise and a sunset that each lasted for about six minutes. In the film's transporting opening sequence the camera traces a downward arc against a nearly pitch-black sky dotted with starry pinpricks as eerie cacophony of crickets, bellowing of cows and occasional bird call fill the soundtrack. As the sky slowly lightens, the camera descends close to the ground, whereupon it slowly moves forward towards a canopy of trees and the softly greying sky is cut across with a slash of blood red streak across the horizon. The camera pans beyond the silhouette of trees into a clearing that effectively becomes the stage of the ensuing human drama. Once the final shot reverses the opening, travelling through dusk onto a starry night sky, the primordial, enduring and haunting image takes us through a meditative trance from the close quarters of strife of humanity to the boundless realms of the universe. Reygadas sums it up best as he remarks, "I begin and end with stars. This is the beginning and end of the story. There is the universe - the broadest and largest thing - then we go to the story of these three characters - and then back to the universe. It is like our life, we think we are the centre of the universe but then we are nothing too."

     Silent Light is a voyage through the tranquillity of rural life, the reversing of time and the transcending power of realizing one's own mistakes. The symbolism is all pervasive in the film through powerful imagery and imaginative soundtrack. When Johan is circling at the garage, it is as if he is going around in circles trapped in his own net of passion and guilt. When Johan stops the clock at the beginning it is as if he is unnerved by the pangs of reality and wants to shy away from it. In the scene where Esther is harvesting the field, she is torn apart and crushed and being churned inside just like the crops. A fascinating shot of Silent Light is when Marianne embraces a grieving Johan, the sunlight hits her eyes and she raises her arms so as to block the light that now hinders her vision. Her hand and forearm, framed in close-up, diagonally take up the entire screen, thus enveloping the sun. The shot is emblematic as the resulting image has supernatural overtones as it works an eclipse, perhaps signifying the final parting of Marianne and Johan.

     In Silent Light, Reygadas creates one of the most astounding sound designs, awash with natural noise, the clamouring of man-made machinery, the image and sound of the Belgium comedian on TV, and the near silent whispers of Mennonite speaking Plautdietsch. It creates a world beyond the realms of human existence.

     In the last sexual encounter between Johan and Marianne the camera assumes a position on the top from where we can see the orgasmic grunts of Marianne, as if the lens sees her from Johan's point of view.

     In Battle in Heaven, when Marcos and his wife are having sex, the film employs extreme close-ups that scrutinize their excess of flesh. Through intense shots of pained faces and vulnerable bodies making love in grotesque manner, Reygadas highlights the crisis the couples are going through and also portrays humanistic angle in the details of their interlocking and display of affection for each other. Reygadas finds tenderness in touching, so when Marcos and his overweight wife copulate, the human connection registers beyond their bulk in gestures and hugging, particularly enhanced by an of-the-moment post coital chat about Marcos' spectacle.

     At the core of Reygadas' films stand a man unable to tame his lust. He is also concerned with the materiality of harsh, unforgiving environment. In Battle in Heaven, for instance Mexico City appears through sight and sound as an oppressing gigantic metropolis, where class fragmentation is apparent. This is conveyed through recurring images of traffic-jammed avenues, packed subways, bizarre display of profanity and talk about wild sex by a group of rich Mexicans alighting from a car, multitude of people making their way to the Basilica. In Japon, Ayacatzintla is depicted in its poverty, ruthless environmental conditions and wilderness. This portrayal is further identified in the film's emphasis on animal cruelty and death ( as severing of the head of a bird, squeaking of a pig being slaughtered and the corpse of a horse).

     The close-ups of the human skin in his work could be seen as the visual equivalents of the harsh nature outside. This microscopic framing is identified for example in the recurrence of extreme close-up of faces in his films. In Japon, the micro shots of Ascen's rugged skin when juxtaposed with the recurring establishing shots of the rugged canyon, lend themselves to a beautiful connection between topography and that of her environment.

     Reygadas realizes that the details of the human skin in his films could be seen as the visual equivalents of an expression of naturalism. He realizes this naturalism by using the camera as a microscope, dissecting the human body in its minutest detail. In fact, at times, the proximity of the lens to bodies in his films threatens to disfigure the very image so as to focus on its material texture. This is what happens for instance when Ana's dreadlocked hair, framed from too close distance, mutates, itself into an entangled web of gigantic strands, signifying her state of confusion as she also battles an innate struggle against her desire to prostitute and her quest for love. Another e.g. is in the extreme close-up shot of Ana's genitalia, which occupies the entire screen, magnified to such an extent that the porosity of her skin and the texture of her pubic hair stands out.

     Reygadas is clearly fascinated by the contours and colours of the human body. The camera plays along lingeringly not only over Ana's young curves, but also over Marcos' less obviously beautiful nakedness and that of his equally proportioned wife. Reygadas comments: "What we say and how we act is learned - no matter how natural we are, we are always acting the role of ourselves. The body cannot act, but it gives you access to internal knowledge. Just think of the great portraits."

     The cinema of Reygadas not only depicts microscopic shots of human flesh, but they also employ long distance shots, backed by awesome music of pop/classical nature, which transforms the natural shape of landscapes. A prime example is the bird's eye view shot of a confluence of flyovers in Mexico City in Battle in Heaven. or the ephemeral long shot of Marcos disappearing in the mountainside in a haze of mist and fog, Even the imagery of the harsh terrain in Japon recalls the documentaries of Herzog.

     Ascen's skin reproduces in its very flesh the physical features of the landscape within which she finds herself. And while these forms could go unnoticed to the human eye alone, the film medium brings micro and macro together to reveal the remarkable similarity of their topographical surfaces.

     When in Battle in Heaven, Marcos and Ana was having sex the camera suddenly and beautifully lifts us from the scene of coitus  to the neighbourhood of adjacent buildings and courtyards and journeys us through the sound and images emanating from there and finally returns us back to where it started from. This astonishing piece of shot reminds us of a scene from "Wing of Desire", directed by Wim Wenders.

     The psychedelic speed of the tracking and 360 degrees panning of the closing final shot of the site of railway accident where Ascen died and the halt of the restless camera on discovering her corpse in Japon, accompanied by the nerve jarring music is a lasting piece of technically astonishing and immensely powerful shot. 

     In Japon, we watch a scene and hear music that's playing and then we would realize that the music is actually playing in the man's headphones and so we are taken by Reygadas right inside the man's head without us realizing it. In Battle in Heaven, the music is really much more cinematographical, open and abstract because the device that produces the music is not subjective. It is real music in a real place and we are listening to it, but then all of a sudden it is made subjective. This is exactly the case in the gas station, like when Marcos moves out and looks at the pilgrim then he turns his head and you see the pilgrims and you stop listening to the music emanating from the gas station, although the music is still playing over there. Thus Reygadas makes music subjective time to time.


     The hallmark of Reygadas' cinema is his ability to fashion, galvanizing miraculous events out of incongruent elements. The gender role-defying relation of Japon, the class warfare of Battle in Heaven or the spirituality versus carnality in Silent Light then serve as human metaphor for Reygadas' combustive disparities. The Silent Light is much more subtle, though may be less innovative, but certainly more matured and accomplished work resulting in exploring the deepest, most absurd boundaries of faith and personal transgression.

     Reygadas is not a moralist. Though his films deals with spirituality and transcendence, he vigorously steers away from judging his characters. He is like the ethereal, naturalistic creator who sits at the distant bank and watches languidly as the human story unfolds. Unlike his canonical influencers, whose films were governed by the recurrence of characters driven by faith, Reygadas' work lacks that moral impulse. For we are talking here of the universe and which thus abolish human made pre-established benchmarks of good and evil, right and wrong, sin and saint. Indeed, we are not asked to sympathise with Esther's sufferings any more than to judge Marcos' criminal acts as to pity the man's existential turmoil, but to contemplate these events as they come into being devoid of a moral value to stare into their germinal insignificance, to apprehend them in their sensuous materiality. This is no concern with morality. And it is this detached deposition of characters and refusal to reinforce moral values that decisively sets apart Reygadas from his cinematic gods. It is here that resides the originality of his work. alice

     Over the course of his career, Reygadas' technique has become more sophisticated and his vocabulary more controlled achieving sublime moments of beauty and the grotesque. His films are neither autobiographical nor self-referential. They construct a platform in which narrative is a ploy; the visual language is the powerful medium, enhanced by the telling effect of soundtracks. This deadly combination produces a mesmerizing display od cinema. Their severity and power arise from the fact that they address serious matters - love, death, fear, sex, sacrifice and redemption - through everyday experiences and in the process of doing so, they put forth a new type of humanism. Steering away from the predominance of narrative and professional acting in film, Reygadas has developed a moving and arresting body of work seemingly devoid of artifice.

     To quote Carlos Reygadas, " Let cinema transmit the power of vision, the power of sound, the power of feeling and being in the world we live in, instead of representing literary narratives taking place inside cardboard houses......In this sense, cinema is the art of reality, the medium in which reality's beauty is captured, where you can film marble or a face, or record someone's voice, a sunset, the innate beauty of what you're contemplating. Tarkovsky achieved this," Perhaps, this enfant terrible of Mexican cinema will live up to the expectation his work has generated. Will he? Well, the future holds the key to this query but so far we are hopeful.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The 400 Greatest Film Directors

     In continuation of the previous article "The 100 Most Influetial Directors" this is a further addition of the names of 400 more great directors, who by their distinctive, pathbreaking films have upheld the notion that cinema is not only a mere popular entertainment, but also the most important and influential form of art.

     These filmmakers from around the world have often worked under difficult conditions and constraint, but with indomitable spirit they have maintained their independence to make films with their personal creative vision, and though the production of the films are a part of industrial process, their creative voice is distinct to shine through all kinds of influences and restrictions. These filmmakers developed recognisable styles, often worked in single or even multiple genres, but their finished product express their own philosophy of life, thoughts, relationships, social commitments, politics and world view. They dared to break the conventions of style and format of filmmaking by innovation and experimentation.                                                                  

     Some of these directors can convey a "sincerity" and "sense of wonder" in their finely crafted films, in which mastering of techniques are evident but not all encompassing. But when technical wizardry, visual gimmicks and stunts overwhelm the visual aesthetics and realistic plotline of the film, for the sole purpose of instant gratification of viewers and commercial gains, then I am afraid I cannot include this filmmakers, however popular they may be, in my list. Therefore to prevent travesty of justice to the process of using film as a medium of expression of art, I have taken the liberty of omitting these directors from my list. The list is according to me very comprehensive and covers cinema from across the globe and include filmmakers from the birth of cinema to the present day. A lot of contemplation and delibration has gone into the process of selection. Though the list contains the maximum number of directors from America( undoubtedly because traditionally USA is the largest producer and distributor of films worldwide apart from Bollywood), quite a few of the American filmmakers mentioned have worked or are working outside the Hollywood system and are pioneers in independant and avant-garde films. Hollywood's recent fascination with its own demise is evident seen through the popularity of disaster, superhero  and horror flicks, movies bereft of realism, superficial, cliched, pretensious and genuinely lacking in creative ideas and pathetically simulating  European/Asiatic cinema. Therefore I am forced  to exclude a lot of popular Hollywood filmmakers from the list.

     Other than USA the major chunk of directors are from France, Japan, Italy, UK, Germany and Spain. Though a good number of Eastern European directors including Russia have found their rightous place in the list. From the last decade of the 20th century till present day there has been a significant spurt of good cinema from Latin America ( especially Mexico, Argentina and Brazil) and Asia(particularly Iran, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Turkey and South Korea). Therefore quite a few auteurs from these parts of the world walked into the list.

     The filmmakers included are those who strive to lift the film to an artistic level. Based upon a common belief that the mainstream cinema have become " morally corrupt, aesthetically obsolete, thematically superficial and temperamentally boring" all the filmmakers who challenged the boundaries of mundaneness and struggled for revival of cinema as a form of art are mentioned. But still I owe my apology to many great filmmakers whom I could not accomodate due to paucity of space( after all 400 is just an arbitrary number). Particulrly I would like to mention over here the notable omissions; Victor Nunez, Alexander Payne, Gregory La Cava, Henry Hathaway, Anatole Litvak, Larry Clark, Ida Lupino, John Gianvito and Ray Parla from USA, Arnoldo Jabor (Brazil), Peter Lilianthal, Wolfgang Becker, Walter Ruttman and Marc Rothemund (Germany), Toshio Matsumata, Kenji Fukasawa, Kawashima Yuzo, Susumu Hani, Shunichi Nagasaki, Naomi Kawase and Ishiro Honda (Japan),Rithy Panh (Cambodia), Silvio Soldini and Franco Zeffirelli (Italy), Germaine Dulac, Andrej Zulawski and Nicolas Philibert (France), Dariush Mehrjui (Iran), Andrei Konchalovsky, Pavel Chukhrai, Mikhael Kalatazov, Julia Solntseva, Aleksei German, Elem Klimov, Larissa Shepitko and Pavel Lungin (Russia), Lucrecia Martel, Juan Jose Campanella, Fernando E. Solanas, Hector Babenco and Jeanine Meerapfel (Argentina), Manuel De Landa (Mexico), Astrid Henning Jenson and Henning Carlsen (Denmark), Jos Stelling and Rolf de Heer (Holland), Dusan Hanak (Slovakia) Claude Jutra (Canada), Tran Anh Hueng (Vietnam), Terry Jones, Stephen Daldry, Mike Hodges and Paul Greengrass (UK), Agnieszka Holland (Poland), Ishmael Bernal (Phillipines), Danis Tanovic (Bosnia), Marta Meszaros (Hungary), Marion Hensel (Belgium), Desire Ecaire(Ivory Coast), Amos Kollek (Israel) and Adoor Gopalakrishan, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Shyam Benegal from India.

1.     Olivier Assayas               (France)
2.     Jacques Audiard             (France)
3.     Alexandre Astruc            (France)
4.     Fatih Akin                       (Germany)
5.     Pedro Almodovar            (Spain)
6.     Alejandro Amenebar        (Spain)
7.     Manuel Guiterrez Aragon  (Spain)
8.     Chantal Akerman              (Belgium)
9.     Gianni Amelio                   (Italy)
10.   Dario Argento                   (Italy)
11.   Pupi Avati                         (Italy)
12.   Gilliam Armstrong              (Australia) (USA)
13.   Fernando Ayala                 (Argentina)
14.   Tomas Guiterrez Alea        (Cuba)
15.   Bille August                       (Denmark)
16.   Theodore Angelopoulos     (Greece)
17.   Denys Arcand                    (Canada)
18.   Tex Avery                          (USA)
19.   Michael Almereyda             (USA)
20.   Dorothy Arzner                   (USA)
21.   Peggy Ahwesh                     (USA)
22.   Hal Ashby                            (USA)
23.   Paul Thomas Anderson         (USA)
24.   Wes Anderson                      (USA)
25.   Darren Aronofsky                 (USA)

26.   Bertrand Blier                       (France)
27.   Claude Berri                          (France)
28.   Catherine Breillat                   (France)
29.   Xavier Beauvois                    (France)
30.   Jacques Becker                     (France)
31.   Luc Besson                           (France)
32.   Kenneth Brannagh                 (UK)
33.   John Boorman                       (UK) (USA)
34.   Juan Antonio Bardem            (Spain)
35.   Luis Garcia Berlanga              (Spain)
36.   Joao Botelho                          (Portugal)
37.   Marco Bellocchio                   (Italy)
38.   Mauro Bologni                        (Italy)
39.   Roberto Benigni                      (Italy)
40.   Sergei Bondarchuk                  (USSR)
41.   Susanne Bier                           (Denmark)
42.   Sarunas Barthas                      (Lithuania)
43.   Lino Brocka                            (Phillipines)
44.   Robert Breer                           (USA)
45.   Craig Baldwin                          (USA)
46.   Clarence Brown                       (USA)
47.   Sadie Benning                           (USA)
48.   Richard Brooks                        (USA)
49.   Peter Bogdanovich                    (USA)
50.   Charles Burnett                         (USA)
51.   Frank Borzage                          (USA)
52.   James Benning                          (USA)
53.   Tim Burton                                (USA)
54.   Tod Browning                           (USA)

55.   Leos Carax                              (France)
56.   Rene Clement                           (France)
57.   Laurent Cantet                          (France)
58.   Andre Cayatte                          (France)
59.   Alain Corneau                           (France)
60.   Patrice Chereau                        (France)
61.   Constantin Costa-Gavras          (France)
62.   Jane Campion                           (New Zealand)
63.   Alex Cox                                  (UK)
64.   Alan Clarke                              (UK)
65.   Mario Camus                            (Spain)
66.   Pedro Costa                              (Portugal)
67.   Luigi Comencini                         (Italy)
68.   Liliana Cavani                            (Italy)
69.   Alfonso Cuaron                         (Mexico)
70.   Youssef Chahine                        (Egypt)
71.   Souleymane Cisse                      (Mali)
72.   Nuri Bilge Ceylan                       (Turkey)
73.   Chang Cheh                               (Hong Kong)
74.   Park Chan-wook                       (South Korea)
75.   Vera Chytilova                           (Czech Rep)
76.   Jack Chambers                           (Canada)
77.   David Cronenberg                       (Canada)
78.   Joseph Cornell                             (USA)
79.   Bob Clampett                              (USA)
80.   Larry Cohen                                (USA)
81.   William Castle                              (USA)
82.   Roger Corman                             (USA)
83.   John Carpenter                            (USA)
84.   Joel and Ethan Coen                    (USA)
85.   Sofia Coppola                              (USA)
86.   Michael Curtiz                              (USA)

87.  Claire Denis                                  (France)
88.  Bruno Dumont                              (France)
89.  Arnaud Desplechin                        (France)
90.  Margaret Duras                             (France)
91.  Guy Debord                                  (France)
92.  Raymond Depardon                      (France)
93.  Jean Delannoy                               (France)
94.  Jacques Deray                               (France)
95.  Michel Deville                                (France)
96.  Jules Dassin                                   (France) (USA)
97.  Terence Davies                              (UK)
98.  Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck  (Germany)
99.  Andre Delvaux                               (Belgium)
100. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne       (Belgium)
101.  Mark Donskoy                             (USSR)
102.  Carlos Diegues                             (Brazil)
103.  Allan Dwan                                  (Canada) (USA)
104.  Joe Dante                                     (USA)
105.  Edward Dmytryk                          (USA)
106.  Jonathan Demme                           (USA)
107.  Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly      (USA)
108.  Cecil B. DeMille                            (USA)

109.  Jean Eustache                              (France)
110.  Jean Epstein                                 (France)
111.  Atom Egoyan                               (Canada)
112.  Victor Erice                                  (Spain)
113.  Clint Eastwood                             (USA)

114.  Georges Franju                            (France)
115.  Stephen Frears                             (UK)
116.  Oscar Fischinger                          (Germany)
117.  Harun Farocki                              (Germany)
118.  Su Friedrich                                 (Germany)
119.  Lucio Fulci                                   (Italy)
120.  Marco Ferreri                               (Italy)
121.  Louise Kolm-Fleck                      (Austria)
122.  Willi Frost                                    (Austria)
123.  Richard Franklin                           (Australia)
124.  Zoltan Fabri                                  (Hungary)
125.  Milos Forman                              (Czech Rep) (USA)
126.  Abel Ferrara                                (USA)
127.  Hollis Frampton                           (USA)
128.  David Fincher                              (USA)
129.  John Frankenheimer                     (USA)
130.  Robert J. Flaherty                        (USA)
131.  William Friedkin                           (USA)
132.  Victor Fleming                             (USA)
133.  Philippe Garrel                            (France)
134.  Jean-Pierre Gorin                        (France)
135.  Michel Gondry                            (France)
136.  Robert Guediguian                      (France)
137.  Sacha Guitry                               (France)
138.  Jean Gremillon                            (France)
139.  Peter Greenaway                        (UK)
140.  Pietro Germi                               (Italy)
141.  Marco Tullio Giordana                (Italy)
142.  Yilmaz Guny                               (Turkey)
143.  Bahman Ghobadi                        (Iran)
144.  Claude Goretta                           (Switzerland)
145.  Amos Gitai                                 (Israel)
146.  Ritwik Ghattak                           (India)
147.  Terry Gilliam                              (USA)
148.  Ernie Gehr                                 (USA)
149.  Michael Haneke                        (Austria) (Germany) (France)
150.  Bert Haanstra                            (Holland)
151.  Juraj Herz                                  (Czech Rep) (Germany)
152.  Yim Ho                                     (Hong Kong)
153.  Tsui Hark                                  (Hong Kong)
154.  King Hu                                    (Hong Kong) (Taiwan)
155.  Ann Hui                                    (Hong Kong)
156.  Hal Hartley                               (USA)
157.  Monte Hellman                         (USA)
158.  Todd Haynes                            (USA)
159.  John Huston                              (USA)

160.  Otar Iosseliani                          (France)
161.  Alejandro de la Iglesia              (Spain)
162.  Joris Ivens                               (Holland) (France)
163.  Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu      (Mexico)
164.  Juzo Itami                                (Japan)
165.  Hiroshi Inagaki                         (Japan)
166.  Shohei Imamura                       (Japan)
167.  Kwon-taek Im                         (South Korea)

168.  Jean-Pierre Juenet                  (France)
169.  Benoit Jacquot                       (France)
170.  Derek Jarman                         (UK)
171.  Peter Jackson                         (New Zealand) (USA)
172.  Alejandro Jodorowsky           (Mexico)
173.  Miklos Jancso                        (Hungary)
174.  Jaromil Jires                            (Czech Rep)
175.  Jan Jost                                  (USA)
176.  Chuck Jones                           (USA)
177.  Spike Jonze                            (USA)
178.  Jim Jarmusch                          (USA)
179.  Ken Jacobs                            (USA)

180.  Diane Kurys                          (France)
181.  Helmut Kautner                     (Germany)
182.  Chen Kaige                           (China)
183.  Stanley Kwan                        (Hong Kong)
184.  Grigori Kozintsev                   (USSR)
185.  Peter Kubelka                       (USSR)
186.  Jan Jacob Kolski                   (Poland)
187.  Aki Kaurismaki                     (Finland)
188.  Emir Kusturica                      (Serbia)
189.  Ted Kotcheff                        (Canada)
190.  Kim Ki-duk                          (South Korea)
191.  Kiyoshi Kurosawa                (Japan)
192.  Takeshi Kitano                     (Japan)
193.  Masaki Kobyashi                 (Japan)
194.  Hirokazu Kore-eda              (Japan)
195.  Harmony Korine                  (USA)
196.  Kuchar Bros.                       (USA)
197.  Elia Kazan                           (USA)

198.  Patrice Leconte                   (France)
199.  Claude Autant-Lara            (France)
200.  Ken Loach                         (UK)
201.  David Lean                         (UK)
202.  Richard Lester                    (UK)
203.  Joseph Losey                      (UK)
204.  Angela Ricci Lucchi and Yervant Gianikian  (Italy)
205.  Len Lye                             (New Zealand)
206.  Francis J. Lombardi           (Peru)
207.  Gerardo de Leon               (Phillipines)
208.  Clara Law                         (Hong Kong) (Australia)
209.  Miguel Littin                      (Chile)
210.  Ang Lee                           (Hong Kong) (USA)
211.  Tsai Ming Liang                (Taiwan)
212.  Arthur Lipsett                   (Canada)
213.  Georges Landow              (USA)
214.  John Landis                      (USA)
215.  George Lucas                   (USA)
216.  Sidney Lumet                    (USA)
217.  Spike Lee                         (USA)
218.  Barry Levinson                 (USA)
219.  Joseph H. Lewis               (USA)
220.  Richard Linklater              (USA)
221.  Jerry Lewis                      (USA)

222.  Jean-Pierre Melville         (France)
223.  Claude Miller                  (France)
224.  Luc Moullet                    (France)
225.  Julio Medem                   (Spain)
226.  Joao Cesar Monteiro      (Portugal)
227.  Mario Monicelli              (Italy)
228.  Nanni Moretti                 (Italy)
229.  Antonio Margheriti          (Italy)
230.  Nikita Mikhalkov            (USSR)
231.  Kira Muratova                (USSR)
232.  Samira Makhmalbaf        (Iran)
233.  Mohsen Makhmalbaf      (Iran)
234.  Majid Majidi                  (Iran)
235.  Djibril Diop Mamberty   (Senegal)
236.  Frederick M. Murer       (Switzerland)
237.  Dusan Makavajev          (Serbia)
238.  Karoly Makk                 (Hungary)
239.  Jiri Menzel                      (Czech Rep)
240.  Lukas Moodysson         (Sweden)
241.  Guy Maddin                  (Canada)
242.  Yasuzo Masumara         (Japan)
243.  Takashe Miike               (Japan)
244.  Yoshimitsu Morita          (Japan)
245.  Hayao Miyazaki             (Japan)
246.  Marie Menken               (USA)
247.  Russ Meyer                   (USA)
248.  Errol Morris                    (USA)
249.  Michael Moore              (USA)
250.  Lewis Milestone            (USA)
251.  Jonas Mekas                 (USA)
252.  Joseph L. Mankiewicz   (USA)
253.  Terence Malick             (USA)
254.  Alexander Mackendrick  (USA)
255.  Rouben Mamoulian       (USA)

256.  Gaspar Noe                 (France)
257.  Philip Noyce                (Australia) (USA)
258.  Maria Novaro              (Mexico)
259.  Leopoldo Torre Nilsson  (Argentina)
260.  Jan Nemec                   (Czech Rep)
261.  Ko Nakahira                (Japan)
262.  Mikio Naruse               (Japan)
263.  Christopher Nolan        (UK) (USA)

264.  Francoise Ozon           (France)
265.  Laurence Olivier          (UK)
266.  Manoel de Oliviera      (Portugal)
267.  Ermanno Olmi             (Italy)
268.  Idrissa Ouedraego      (Burkina Faso)
269.  Alanis Obomsawin      (Canada)
270.  Shinsuke Ogawa         (Japan)
271.  Mamoru Oshii             (Japan)

272.  Maurice Pialat            (France)
273.  Marcel Pagnol            (France)
274.  Gillo Pontecorvo        (Italy)
275.  Elio Petri                    (Italy)
276.  Sally Potter                (UK)
277.  Pere Portabella          (Spain)
278  Jafar Panahi                (Iran)
279.  Lucian Pintilie            (Romania)
280.  D. A. Pennebacker   (USA)
281.  Melvin van Peebles   (USA)
282.  Sidney Pollack          (USA)
283.  Arthur Penn              (USA)
284.  Brian De Palma         (USA)

285.  Quay Bros.               (USA)

286.  Raoul Ruiz               (Chile) (France)
287.  Jacques Rozier         (France)
288.  Francoise Reichenbach  (France)
289.  Ken Russell              (UK)
290.  Nicholas Roeg          (UK)
291.  Tony Richardson      (UK)
292.  Lynne Ramsay          (UK)
293.  Carol Reed               (UK)
294.  Leni Riefenstahl         (Germany)
295.  Edgar Reitz               (Germany)
296.  Carlos Reygadas       (Mexico)
297.  Francesco Rosi         (Italy)
298.  Dino Risi                   (Italy)
299.  Arturo Ripstein          (Mexico)
300.  Glauber Rocha          (Brazil)
301.  Pen-ek-Ratanaruang  (Thailand)
302.  Godfrey Reggio          (USA)
303.  Marc Rappaport         (USA)
304.  Yvonne Rainer           (USA)
305.  George A. Romero    (USA)
306.  Mark Robson            (USA)
307.  Mervyn Le Roy          (USA)
308.  David O. Russell        (USA)

309.  Claude Sautet           (France)
310.  John Schlesinger       (UK) (USA)
311.  Ridley Scott             (UK) (USA)
312.  Volker Schlondorff   (Germany)
313.  Helke Sander           (Germany)
314.  Helma Sander-Brahms  (Germany)
315.  Werner Schroeter      (Germany)
316.  Hans-Jurgen Syberborg  (Germany)
317.  Carlos Saura               (Spain)
318.  Ettore Scola                (Italy)
319.  Mrinal Sen                  (India)
320.  Jerzy Skolimowski      (Poland)
321.  Alexander Sokurov     (Russia)
322.  Hong Sang-Soo          (South Korea)
323.  Walter Salles              (Brazil)
324.  Nelson Perreira dos Santos  (Brazil)
325.  Humberto Solas         (Cuba)
326.  Ousmane Sembene    (Senegal)
327.  Istvan Szabo              (Hungary)
328.  Alf Sjoberg                (Sweden)
329.  Michael Snow            (Canada)
330.  Shinji Somai               (Japan)
331.  Masahiro Shinoda      (Japan)
332.  Seijun Suzuki             (Japan)
333.  Kaneto Shindo           (Japan)
334.  Kevin Smith               (USA)
335.  Preston Sturges          (USA)
336.  Gus Van Sant             (USA)
337.  Todd Solondz            (USA)
338.  Robert Siodmark       (Germany) (USA)
339.  Douglas Sirk              (USA)
340.  Mark Sandrich           (USA)
341.  Steven Soderburgh     (USA)
342.  John Sayles                (USA)
343.  Paul Schrader             (USA)
344.  Oliver Stone               (USA)
345.  Jack Smith                  (USA)
346.  Don Siegel                  (USA)
347.  George Stevens          (USA)

348.  Andre Techine            (France)
349.  Bertrand Tavernier      (France)
350.  Margaret von Trotta    (Germany)
351.  Tom Tykwer               (Germany)
352.  Giuseppe Tornatore     (Italy)
353.  Vittorio and Paolo Taviani  (Italy)
354.  Lars von Trier              (Denmark)
355.  Alain Tanner                (Switzerland)
356.  Bela Tarr                     (Hungary)
357.  Johnny To                    (Hong Kong)
358.  Jan Gustaf Troell          (Sweden)
359.  Hiroshi Teshigahara      (Japan)
360.  Shuji Terayama            (Japan)
361.  Shinya Tsukamoto        (Japan)
362.  Frank Tashlin               (USA)
363.  Leslie Thornton            (USA)
364.  Jacques Tournuer         (USA)
365.  Quentin Tarantino         (USA)
366.  Andre de Toth              (USA)

367.  Tomu Uchida              (Japan)
368.  Edgar G. Ulmer           (USA)

369.  Agnes Varda               (France)
370.  Paul Verhoeven           (Holland) (USA)
371.  Frantisek Vlacil           (Czech Rep)
372.  Thomas Vinterberg      (Denmark)

373.  Michael Winterbottom   (UK)
374.  Peter Watkins               (UK)
375.  Wim Wenders              (Germany) (USA)
376.  Paul Wegener               (Germany)
377.  Andrzej Wajda             (Poland)
378.  Peter Weir                    (Australia) (USA)
379.  John Woo                    (Hong Kong) (USA)
380.  Wong Kar-Wei            (Hong Kong)
381.  Apichatpong Weerasethakul  (Thailand)
382.  Frederick Wiseman       (USA)
383.  John Waters                 (USA)
384.  Andy Warhol                (USA)
385.  Robert Wise                 (USA)
386.  William Wyler               (USA)
387.  Doris Wishman             (USA)
388.  James Whale                (USA)
389.  William A. Wellman      (USA)
390.  Sam Wood                   (USA)

391.  Wang Xiaoshuai          (China)

392.  Zhang Yimou              (China)
393.  Edward Yang             (Taiwan)
394.  Yoji Yamada              (Japan)

395.  Jia Zhangke               (China)
396.  Tian Zhuangzhuang    (China)
397.  Krzyosztof Zanussi    (Poland)
398.  Andrey Zvyagintsev   (Russia)
399.  Robert Zemeckis       (USA)
400.  Fred Zinnemann         (USA)