Film: Best of 2011

Regina Schlagnitweit

Aki Kaurismäki, Le Havre, 2011, still from a color film in 35 mm, 93 minutes. Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) and Marcel Marx (André Wilms).

1 Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki) Often taken as a “lightweight,” Kaurismäki has made his most urgent film so far. A “utopian fable,” yes, but one that is fully grounded, summoning the spirits of cinema history in order to speak, with love and anger, about Europe Now.

2 The Forgotten Space (Allan Sekula and Noël Burch) If Le Havre were in need of a companion piece, I would pair it with Sekula and Burch’s eye-opening and richly woven essay about capitalism at sea.

3 Century of Birthing (Lav Diaz) Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz’s latest epic again makes the case for a cinema that you can—and must—inhabit, a cinema in which time is figured not as a cost but as a gift.

4 This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb) In terms of rendering the practice of filmmaking as an irrepressible, existential force, Diaz had only one equal in 2011: Jafar Panahi, who was banned

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