White Supremacist Cinema: The Gentlemen (Guy Ritchie, UK/USA, 2019)

American cinema, Blogpost, British cinema, Uncategorized

Perhaps the biggest problem with racism in the UK is the UK’s belief that it does not have one.

The ‘it’ from the previous sentence should be defined as pertaining most specifically to the UK’s white population, perhaps especially those white citizens who identify solely as British nationals.

And yet, when we watch a film like The Gentlemen, it seems clear that racism is alive and well in the UK, including in British cinema (which is not to say that cinema as a whole might be a tool built upon racism).

Or, at least, The Gentlemen would wish to suggest that its white, male and Anglo-American values are ‘cinematic,’ while other, diverse forms of expression belong to smaller, ‘inferior’ screens.

We’ll get to the treatment of race in The Gentlemen shortly. First, however, we should get to grips with what I mean when I include the phrase ‘white supremacy’ in the title of this post.

For, in order to understand how white supremacy works, it is important to understand what it is, and because The Gentlemen is not especially subtle in its white supremacy, it functions as a good tool for us to think about how and why white supremacy is at work in the film.

So, as perhaps needs to be said every time one engages with the issue of race in the UK, white supremacy, as well as racism more generally, are not uniquely defined by hood-wearing white people lynching non-white people.

Rather, white supremacy is, simply enough, the belief that whites and whiteness are of greater value than non-whites and non-whiteness, perhaps especially blackness, but for certain in The Gentlemen, more valuable than yellowness.

The immediate defence mechanism that a white supremacist will put into play is the idea that I just betrayed my own racism by using ‘racist’ terms like black and yellow, as well as perhaps white.

To be clear, ‘yellow’ especially is a term that is loaded with a racist history, not least because it has historically been and continues to be a term applied by whites (and others) to various Asian peoples in precisely a derogatory fashion: the ‘yellow peril,’ for example, has long expressed the fear of whites that the Chinese (or others) will ‘take over’ the white world – a fear that is overtly at work in The Gentlemen.

All the same, while Asian people rarely and perhaps only ever with some sense of irony define themselves as ‘yellow’ (unlike Blacks, who do define themselves proactively as black, even though what ‘black’ really is or means has never been accurately or exactly defined – except perhaps by whites), I use the term(s) here to get us to think about how white supremacy works from the inside.

By this, what I mean to say is that white supremacy sees whites and whiteness as being superior to all other colours. In order to do this, it has to cast those other, non-white people into those other colour categories (black, yellow, brown) in order specifically to highlight that they are not white.

Having made this conceptual distinction, which allows the white to value himself above the non-white, the white takes the ‘supreme’ position from among the different colour categories. It is not that there are different colours, so much as a hierarchy of colours, with white at the top. Hence white supremacy.

Thereafter follow myriad ways in which whites and whiteness receive preferential treatment, get more opportunities and so on and so forth, all because they are white, while those non-whites (yellow, black, brown and so on) get inferior treatment, fewer opportunities and so on and so forth.

The point that I wish to make at the outset, then, is that you don’t need to be an overt racist to be a white supremacist or, at the very least, to benefit from a white supremacist system, or to thrive within a society that is white supremacist.

Nor, I might add, do you need to be white to thrive in a white supremacist society. You can be non-white and thrive; and you can be white and not thrive.

But if you are white, then the chances are significantly increased that you will thrive, or at least be more comfortable than if you were not white; and if you are non-white, then you will have significantly greater barriers before you to both comfort and, better yet, thriving.

And so if you benefit from such a system or thrive within such a society because of your whiteness, and if you do not do anything to change the advantages that you have, by, for example, refusing to share that advantegeous position, then, simply put, you are a white supremacist out of complicity, if not out of explicit action.

(That said, how we might separate explicit action from ‘mere’ complicity when we are considering the entire fabric of a life seems quite difficult to me; ‘doing nothing,’ or allowing disadvantages to continue for others simply because this gives you greater advantages, is an explicit action, just as not helping your neighbour is an explicit action… whether or not you run the risk of seeming like a chump to other advantaged people, who will think that you are betraying them because you see, understand and try to do something about the disadvantages presented to some – with the same advantaged people perhaps also thinking you stupid for not taking the same advantages as they do, even though you have those advantages before you. In short, the easy option – allowing things to stand as they are – negates the difference between complicity and explicit action; taking the harder option is always harder, and part of why it is harder is because others will make your life harder for taking that option – calling you names, making you feel bad about yourself and so on.)

Anyway, one of the next defence mechanisms that a typical white supremacist would throw out in order to deny racism, be that their own racism or that of the system from which they benefit, would be an appeal to history.

That is, and as per the notion described above of complicity/allowing things to stand as they are, a white supremacist (be they explicitly racist or simply happy quietly to benefit from white supremacy), would say that the UK is historically ‘white’ and that blacks and other non-whites of course are welcome here, but that they have to come and work their way ‘up the ladder’ and that of course this cannot happen overnight and so on and so forth.

However, while the appeal of such a view is perhaps inevitable to an unthinking white supremacist and to an overt racist alike, it is also false and an act of white supremacist thinking in and of itself.

Its falseness would probably take too long to deal with here in full. But put bluntly, the view is false because the idea that the UK is ‘historically’ white elides in this case race with nationalism – using race to define what is ‘British’ as that which is ‘white.’

But if ‘British’ and ‘white’ are now supposed to be synonymous, then we quickly get into hot water, as many comedians have pointed out – including perhaps most memorably Stewart Lee – since what ‘British’ is has no clear or exact meaning. We are a nation historically made of up Angles, French, Vikings, Norsemen, Celts, the Welsh, the Cornish, Germans, Greeks and more. (Many more!)

To suggest that Britishness and whiteness are historically synonymous is false, then, not because these other nations (Angles, French, Vikings, etc) are non-white (although more on this detail in a short moment), but because if ‘British’ is a single identity that in fact springs from a wide range of different identities, then there is no reason to suggest that ‘British’ is a single identity that has to have a specific skin colour.

What is more, the idea that the UK is historically white is also false and in and of itself white supremacist because if those non-white people who supposedly are ‘now’ British were indeed ‘British,’ then they would simply be British – and there would be no need to tell them that they were somehow ‘not British enough’ because of their skin colour.

That is, when history is used as an appeal to justify ongoing imbalances along racial lines within the UK, it places those non-white people in the category of ‘not quite British’ or ‘not British enough’ – as if having British nationality and/or permission to live and work in the UK were not the end of it.

To be treated as ‘not quite British’ means that history is being used as an excuse to preserve white Britishness in its supreme position, with that supremacy now based upon whiteness (i.e. it is white supremacy), since it is the non-whiteness of the other that renders them ‘not quite British.’

(Nationality can also be used instead of race to classify someone as ‘not quite British.’ For example, one might be Irish or Polish in origin, and this non-British origin is now used as a reason to define the other as ‘not quite British.’ In other words, white supremacy can also work alongside a sense of nationalist supremacy. It is not for no reason, though, that the Irish and the Polish have historically sometimes been referred to as the ‘blacks of Europe.’ That is, nationalist supremacy and white supremacy often go hand in hand, and even though the skin of many Irish people is ‘white,’ and indistinguishable from the skin of many British people, the Irish have not always been considered ‘fully white,’ just as they have not always been considered ‘fully British’ – whatever that means. As a result, ‘whiteness’ is a set of values not always wholly linked to skin colour alone.)

(Furthermore, the appeal to history also is inherently conservative in that it assumes that the past is more correct than the present and the future – a perspective that contradicts the notion of ‘progress,’ which can be equally problematic, and which claims that the present is more correct than the past – and that the future will be more correct yet than the present. In other words, such a view suggests that historical whiteness overrules present diversity and future non-whiteness. Given that history has favoured whites, such a conservative view of the world is thus to my mind itself a culturally ‘white supremacist’ view.)

‘But,’ our white supremacist might contend in their next line of defence, ‘if we don’t look out, then we’ll be overrun by foreigners’ – which is the ‘yellow peril’ line of argument at work in its clearest fashion (although the peril need not always be yellow; it can also be black and/or Polish and so on).

What this line of defence suggests again is that the now-British person is again not quite British enough, and that rather than Britain changing in its complexion in order to match its citizens, it is citizens who must change in their complexion in order to match the nationality.

Again, if we are all only really ‘now-British,’ in that everyone is non-British if you go back far enough, then it is both senseless and racist to say that the newer ‘now-British’ are ‘not quite British’ or ‘not really British’ because of their skin colour (or former nationality). That is, none of us is ‘really British’ when we look hard enough at it, with Britishness – as well as whiteness – simply being imaginary constructs.

The contention comes in again: how can you say race is an imaginary construct when I can see that a black person has a different colour of skin to a white person? I am not ‘imagining’ that difference at all…

In some senses, this white supremacist defence is not wrong; many people defined as black do indeed have darker skin pigmentation than many people defined as white.

However, it is how these differences are meaningful that is an act of the imagination.

For, if I am six foot tall, I am definitely taller than someone who is five foot six. And while some tall people do think that they are superior to shorter people, we nonetheless do not at present exclude people from a group (except perhaps for ‘those who can enjoy certain theme park rides’) as a result of their height. No, theme park rides aside, that would be completely arbitrary and meaningless.

And yet, while we do not (in principle) offer different opportunities to people who are taller than to people who are shorter, white supremacist societies, including the UK, do offer different opportunities to people because of their skin colour.

If we lived in a world where, say, people with size 8 shoes and below were discriminated against, while people with size 9 shoes and above enjoyed the majority of the opportunities and spoils, then we’d not look at skin colour but at shoe size in order to differentiate between people. In such a world, someone with darker skin would still have darker skin, and we would still be able to recognise as much, just as in our current world we can still tell if someone is short and/or has a smaller shoe size. But as we are cool with grouping up with people of different heights and/or shoe sizes in our world, so would we be cool in that other world of grouping up with people of different skin colours – just as long as they had the right shoe size or were the right height!

Since on the whole we are cool with grouping up with people of different shoe sizes, it seems weird that some people are not cool with grouping up with people of different skin colours.

With this example, then, I hope to have suggested that while there are indeed different skin colours (indeed, there are so many different skin colours that there are perhaps no two people with exactly the same skin colour, just as there are perhaps no two people with exactly the same shape and size of feet), what is an act of the imagination is how skin colour determines so much meaning and value in our world.

In the world where we discriminate by height and shoe size, skin colour would still be real, but it would determine so much less. In our world, height and shoe size are still real, but for some reason they determine relatively little (but definitely not nothing) in how much we esteem and value people, while skin colour determines a lot. That it is one and not the other is because of how we imagine people to be and how we imagine people to have or to accrue value.

That is, for some reason the contemporary world sets a lot of importance by skin colour, while it doesn’t supposedly set that much importance by height or shoe size – even though these differences are all real. Why it is skin colour that is so important a marker of difference is an act of imagination; we imagine that this one marker of difference is somehow so much more important than any other (although skin colour is by no means the only important marker of difference, with even height and shoe size sometimes being important enough a marker of difference to make that difference meaningful).

So…

This is a long and roundabout diatribe that has not yet dealt much with The Gentlemen, but which I write at the outset of what is potentially a new series of occasional blogs about how white supremacism creeps into and is at work in contemporary cinema because it is important to demonstrate how the films in question engage with and suggest how whiteness is indeed attributed greater value in the western world, if not globally, and especially in the UK as per Guy Ritchie’s film.

With this in mind, we can turn to various moments in the film that demonstrate its white supremacist values, before then suggesting why it is important to point out the film’s white supremacy, even as it risks spoiling the ‘fun’ of this piece of what would like otherwise to be ‘harmless entertainment.’

Relatively early on in the film a mixed group of youths enter into the otherwise all-white and traditional space of a chippy. The group, which is marked by having non-white members among their number, approach the counter and start putting in orders without paying attention to the other clients – and while speaking in the vernacular of British urban youths.

However, what the youths do not know is that at the counter also awaiting his chips is Coach (Colin Farrell), an Irish boxing/fight coach who just wants peacefully to get his chips without being insulted by these ‘obnoxious’ youths.

What follows is a scene in which Coach beats up a couple of the youths before they recognise who he is and defer to him. As he does this, he also delivers a basic lesson in manners, all the while meeting the nodding approval of the chippy staff, who thus suggest that they have had enough of these young people, too.

The scene plays out as a fantasy of violence enacted against young, mixed groups – whose threat to the otherwise white clientele and workers at the chippy is signalled by the mixed, that is, partially non-white, nature of this particular group.

In other words, The Gentlemen here encourages us as viewers to enjoy seeing violence enacted against these young, urban kids – especially because they are lower class and non-white/mixed.

That this takes place in a chippy is significant: what more of a ‘British’ location could you get then a chippy, given that we are internationally famous for our fish’n’chips? Furthermore, given that a chippy is a ‘working class’ establishment, we can now understand that the youths are not unwelcome there because of their class – because, the chippy owners and the other chippy clients are all ‘working class.’ No – the reason that they are not welcome is because some of them are not white.

That the youths defer to Coach as they get beaten up suggests not only the imposition of a white supremacy over the course of the scene (re-establishing that whites are in charge after their supremacy has been threatened), but also that the youths themselves endorse and support this white supremacy.

That is, The Gentlemen does not just stage whites beating non-whites; it also has the non-whites basically tell the whites that they were correct to do so, since their white ways are better than the non-white ways of the youths – an important lesson that the non-whites learn over the course of this otherwise innocuous-seeming scene.

Having established Coach in his position of white supremacy – a position so supreme that even non-whites recognise his authority – the film then involves a scene in which two boxers at Coach’s gym have an argument. Indeed, one boxer calls Ernie (Bugzy Malone) a ‘black cunt,’ to which Ernie objects by suggesting that this is racist.

Coach interrupts Ernie and explains that it is not racist because Ernie is both black and a cunt, and therefore calling Ernie a black cunt is by definition not racist. Ernie agrees with Coach and goes about his business.

In other words, in this scene we have Coach delegitimise Ernie’s feeling that the other boxer has been racist (which is not to mention misogynist in his use of the term ‘cunt’). But more than simply telling Ernie he is wrong, Coach also gets to give Ernie a lesson in how to call someone a ‘black cunt’ is not racist – with the implication being to call someone a ‘black cunt’ is right. Furthermore, not only does Coach tell Ernie he’s wrong, before ‘proving’ to him why he’s wrong, but the script to The Gentlemen also has Ernie accepting Coach’s argument and basically agreeing with him.

It is important that this ‘lesson’ follows Coach having schooled the youths in the chippy. For now that his authority has been established in the former scene, it is in this second scene simply reaffirmed and not questioned. And this allows for the filmmakers to achieve a deeply problematic triple whammy: to sneak overt racism into this scene, to have that racism explained as non-racism, and for that racism then to be accepted as non-racism by the person to whom this racist slur was directed.

For those unwilling to accept this triple whammy, and who might rather posit that Ernie is indeed black, so it is not wrong to call him black, I should reply: Ernie is not called black, but specifically a black cunt. That is, blackness is here elided with cuntness in such a way that it is made to apply to an entire race, thereby making the discourse racist.

Furthermore, while the c-word does get bandied about in The Gentlemen with some frequency, it is never used in association with, say, white or whiteness. While Fletcher (Hugh Grant) and Ray (Charlie Hunnam) might call each other cunts, neither calls the other a ‘white cunt,’ for example.

Perhaps they don’t have to call each other a ‘white cunt’ because each of them is white; for Ray to call Fletcher a ‘white cunt’ (or vice versa) would be redundant and so it is simpler for them just to call each other a cunt.

However, Ernie must be specified as a black cunt. According to the logic of The Gentlemen, then, race apparently has nothing to do with cuntitude except when you are black, at which point in time it is always worth reminding the cunt in question that they are specifically a black cunt.

The upshot of this is that whiteness becomes invisible (whiteness is not even worth mentioning or specifying), while blackness must always be marked – because blackness is a mark – whether or not cuntness, deeply misogynistic as it is, is also a mark.

That blackness is a mark suggests that all deviations from whiteness are abnormal and need to be defined, most often negatively (Ernie is not a cunt, but a black cunt). The need to mark deviations from whiteness is part and parcel of white supremacy – with the filmmakers here going so far as to mark this marking also as correct, and not just by the white characters, but by the affected black character himself.

That Coach is Irish could conceivably mean that we have a ‘metaphorical black’ talking to a ‘genuine’ Black (the Irish as the ‘blacks of Europe’) about race; that is, these are ‘brothers’ talking. But really The Gentlemen seems here as in the chippy scene to want to use Coach’s Irishness to cover over what is otherwise overt white supremacy.

As is typical of much white supremacist cinema, The Gentlemen does not give much screen time to non-white characters. If you look at the poster for the film, you will see that the main cast is white with the exception of Henry Golding (who plays Dry Eye); while there are non-white characters, then, these generally are cast in subservient and secondary roles.

Furthermore, the only non-white character who does have a leading part and who appears on the poster, namely Dry Eye, is of course the film’s antagonist, or villain – an uppity young Asian man who threatens to take over the business of the whites who otherwise monopolise the marijuana business within the UK.

Now, Dry Eye is not just uppity towards the white overlords. No, The Gentlemen takes care to make sure that Dry Eye is also irreverent towards his Asian boss, Lord George (Tom Wu).

However, while this might with some gerrymandering mean that Dry Eye is just a ‘bad egg,’ and that actually there are some ‘good’ Asians, like Lord George, in the film… in fact the film also makes sure to show that Lord George is also a bad egg.

This in particular takes place through a scene in which weed kingpin Mickey Pierson (Matthew McConnaughey) goes to Lord George’s base and poisons him. Not only does he poison Lord George’s tea such that the latter vomits and soils himself – a humiliation in which Mickey seems to take some pleasure – but he also offers Lord George a lecture on vices.

For, at the start of the scene, Lord George explains that gambling on horses is his only vice. Cue Mickey explaining that Lord George, as someone who deals in cocaine and heroin, has many vices, even if he does not take those drugs himself (and this is not to mention the other rackets with which he is involved). This vileness Mickey compares to his own weed dealing, which in his own eyes is simply an innocent and not life-destroying drug, even as Mickey has knowingly slaughtered his rivals (notably black!) in order to be the biggest weed dealer in the UK and perhaps further afield.

This attribution to the Asian other of evil – which applies to Dry Eye, but especially here to Lord George – is not only another scene of the white telling the non-white about their place within the white world order, but it also involves a curious erasure of history. For, as has regularly been noted, it is the UK who supplied and got countless Asians, specifically Chinese people, addicted to opium during the so-called Opium Wars – and all in the name of Empire. And yet, here it is the ‘evil’ Chinaman (with his pompous faux British name!) who is guilty of doing the same…

Again, then, whiteness reigns supreme in the world of The Gentlemen.

The Gentlemen involves a sequence in which Ray goes with his colleagues, including Bunny (Chidi Ajufo), on to a housing estate in order to extract the daughter of a lord, Laura (Eliot Pauline Sumner). This they do, but not without mistakenly throwing a Russian heir out of a window and to his death.

The body is then filmed by a further group of youths, from whom Ray and his colleagues must take their phones in order to ensure that the mission is not recorded and placed on social media.

This then prompts a sequence just like the one in the chippy: white Ray confronts the mixed/non-white youths and then out-toughs them with a machine gun. While Bunny is indeed on Ray’s ‘side’ during this confrontation, as per the sequence in the chippy, the council estate sequence situates the viewer in such a way as to take pleasure in seeing these youths as humiliated, first by marking them as a threat (especially by keeping Ray’s machine gun hidden not just from the youths, but also from us as viewers), then by marking them as defeated.

Again, then, white supremacy creeps in.

And yet, just as Bunny works for Ray, so does urban youth culture work for the film, since the inclusion of celebrity performers like Bugzy Malone is surely done in a bid to boost the appeal of The Gentlemen beyond a white audience.

And what this means is that black/urban music features on the soundtrack to the film also in a bid to sell it – and in order to increase its coolness.

Toni Morrison has written about how white media regularly use encounters with blacks, especially black music, in order to signal a transition (a character suddenly is galvanised to do something tough by listening to hip hop, for example) – and it is clear in the history of cinema more generally that black music is regularly used to signify ‘action’ and ‘excitement’ in films that otherwise have unmarked white characters taking up the vast majority of the screen time.

This exploitation is also at work here in The Gentlemen, then, where all that is non-white is derided and yet used profitably by whiteness, including the humiliation of non-whites for the pleasure of white audiences. (There is even a series of jokes at the expense of a character called Phuc, played by Jason Wong.)

And yet, for all of its use of blackness to increase its caché and chances of making a profit, The Gentlemen also has the temerity to deride black culture.

This it does relatively subtly towards the beginning of the film. For, Fletcher explains to Ray that he has written a film script about the whole plot in which he finds himself involved – for Fletcher is an investigative journalist who has been following the exploits of Mickey Pierson now for some time… and he is with Ray, as Mickey’s sidekick, to extort some money from him so as not to have Mickey’s business exposed in the tabloid press (represented here by Eddie Marsan playing newspaper editor Big Dave).

As Fletcher explains to Ray, his script is cinematic, and he outlines what ‘cinematic’ is and means by comparing it to television or even something that one might watch on a small screen on the internet. As if to confirm Fletcher’s argument that cinema is ‘superior’ to these other media, the makers of The Gentlemen consciously change the dimensions of the screen in order to convey how the bigger/more ‘cinematic’ an image is, the more powerful it is.

That is, cinema is upheld in The Gentlemen as the supreme audiovisual format.

But more than this, cinema is also upheld as white when it transpires that Coach’s non-white protégés, including Ernie and others, have not only stolen some of Mickey’s weed from one of his plantations (a problematic term that I use provocatively by choice), but that they have also recorded their exploits and uploaded them to social media.

In other words, non-whiteness is here implicitly associated with the small screen, which in turn is defined as an inferior medium not just by Fletcher, but also by the film itself, since the film consciously changes the dimensions of the screen in order to demonstrate Fletcher’s point, i.e. to demonstrate that Fletcher is correct.

It is for this reason, then, that the makers of The Gentlemen elide whiteness with cinema as a whole, with whiteness being supreme, especially in this ‘supreme’ medium. Non-whites are associated with inferior media, which in turn confirms their ‘inferior’ societal status.

And yet, for all of their supposed aesthetic ‘inferiority,’ The Gentlemen is very happy to replicate the aesthetics of social media for the purposes of telling its story, including by showing in full one of the music videos created by Ernie/Bugzy Malone in the closing credits.

White supremacy, then, relies on the non-white for its own power, and yet denies this reliance even as it overtly uses non-whiteness to its own advantage.

Of course, a white supremacist might just finally contend two things. Firstly, that someone has to be the bad guy, and so why not the Asian other/Dry Eye? To which one might respond that no one has to be the bad guy at all, especially if we understand that anyone who does ‘bad’ things generally does them for reasons beyond simply being ‘evil’ – even if The Gentlemen cannot be bothered to take the time to show the reasons behind, say, Dry Eye’s greed (meaning that he is simply allowed to be or to become a ‘bad’ Asian).

(I might suggest that cinema as a whole does not generally bother to spend time investigating or exploring complexities of character, a wider issue that is related both to conventions of storytelling, and to the kinds of films we watch, how long they run, where they play and so on. That is, films generally cannot be bothered to explore complexity because it would require slower, less ‘interesting’ and more thoughtful films. This would in turn mean that cinema would run the risk of not making as much money; and so, capitalism as a whole is in part responsible for the lack of thoughtful movies, meaning that cinema is a race to the bottom in terms of indulging unthoughtfulness. How and why thought and thinking are so unappealing in our attention-driven and capitalist society is an issue that will have to await another discussion.)

Secondly, a white supremacist might contend that The Gentlemen need not be bothered to show such complexities because it is, after all, ‘just a movie,’ just ‘a bit of fun,’ or just entertainment – as the film consciously suggests by choosing The Jam’s ‘That’s Entertainment’ as the song that plays over the start of the final credits.

But, as Richard Dyer has also suggested, that which is put forward as ‘only entertainment’ is often far from being such.

Or, put differently, we don’t have many pro-KKK films (although we should worry about their existence and the popularity that any such films enjoy). And yet, we do have issues of white supremacy and racism in our society. And white supremacy persists in our societies not only because of overt racism, but also because of white supremacy is fed to us in ‘mere entertainments’ such as The Gentlemen.

I might push further and suggest that not only is there white supremacy in our society, but that we live in a white supremacist society as a whole; that is, our society is built upon white supremacy, among other things (including classism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and other issues – and all of which are present in The Gentlemen, too). Since our society is built upon white supremacy, we cannot change white supremacy without changing society.

I might also suggest that cinema as a whole is white supremacist and that we cannot change white supremacy in cinema without fundamentally changing cinema.

The reason to write a blog (series) such as this, then, is to suggest that we should indeed be looking to change cinema – by encouraging producers, editors, writers, directors, cinematographers, actors, all crew and cast, and even all cinema goers, as well as critics and so on – to be attuned to how white supremacy is at work in the medium, and especially in films like this one.

If we don’t put in such work – if we don’t kill some of the ‘joy’ that people take in white supremacy – then white supremacy will continue. And it is time to put an end to such white supremacy – not necessarily by making only films about paraplegic black lesbians or whatever other sarcastic response a white supremacist might put defensively in place (although why not have many more such films?), but by being and/or becoming more responsible for how we think, how we express our thoughts, and how we live with each other today.

That is, if we can spread a wider understanding of how white supremacy works, then perhaps the fabric of films like The Gentlemen might change. Producers, actors, writers, editors and so on would not want to make such films, and so such films would change. This in turn might change cinema. And by changing cinema we might in turn change society.

Such changes need to be made…

* Another white supremacist contention might be aimed at the writer of this blog as a white (cisgendered) male, etc: am I not also implicated in white supremacy, the recipient of many of its benefits and so on? That is, am I not just a virtue-signalling hypocrite in writing anti-white supremacy blogs? I am indeed complicit in white supremacy, and this has emerged in different ways at different points in my life – and it likely will never not be the case. However, as I grow increasingly to understand the workings of white supremacy myself, I feel it important not only to seek to change my own behaviours and complicity with that system, but also to share what it is that I am learning in a bid to bring about wider change. The process of learning has not ended and likely never will end. To bring it to an end, though, is what we might call a project: a part of one’s life work, something that goes on until death, but which may well give meaning to such a life, rather than persisting in meaningless complicity.

A Review of Cinema in 2017

Blogpost, Film reviews, Uncategorized

In an essay for Frames Cinema Journal, I once suggested that Sean Baker’s Tangerine (USA, 2015) was as important as, if not more important than, Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs (UK/USA, 2015). My reasoning was that in its use of the iPhone to make a film about transsexual sex workers in Los Angeles, Tangerine did something more interesting both thematically and formally than Boyle’s fantastically smart biopic enshrining the Great Man behind Apple.

In a year that ends with Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, USA, 2017) marching rapidly and in very little time towards being the highest grossing movie to be released in 2017 (with much of its gross yet to come in 2018), it would seem that in The Florida Project (USA, 2017), Sean Baker has again made a timely film that offers a critical corrective to the mainstream.

For, as Tangerine uses the iPhone to open up new vistas not offered by the conservative Steve Jobs, so does The Florida Project give us insight into America’s underside, as it tells the story of kids living in motels not far from Orlando, of course the home of Disney World.

Indeed, Baker’s film ends with a fantasy escape by two of its child protagonists (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince and Valeria Cotto) away from the police and care workers who will separate one of them from her mother and towards Disney World, which the kids approach as the film cuts to black and ends.

In this image, Baker surely acknowledges the power of Disney in offering escape from and perhaps solace for real world problems, such as negligent parents, poverty and so on. But Baker also reminds us that what we see in The Florida Project is the kind of reality that rarely features in Disney films… and even if it does, it is one from which escape is typically completed rather than left suspended in mid-flight, as here.

In this sense, The Florida Project challenges the approaching monopoly of Disney on the realm of audiovisual entertainment by reminding us that cinema need not be the colonisation of the imagination via escapism, but that it can find beauty in all manner of things, including six-year old kids spitting on a car, trashing an abandoned house and more.

Indeed, The Florida Project is regularly reminiscent of François Truffaut’s classic The 400 Blows (France, 1959), even if Baker’s protagonists are significantly younger than was Jean-Pierre Léaud when he starred in Truffaut’s French New Wave flagship. And as Truffaut breathed new life into cinema by showing the life of children and their refusal to conform to papa and papa’s old-fashioned cinema, so might Baker also breathe new life into cinema by showing the life of children and their refusal to buy into the fake plastic world of toys and the toyification of life.

My stupid Disney conspiracy theory
But if The Florida Project is going to achieve a rejuvenation of cinema, it certainly has its work cut out. For, if we look at the list below of the highest grossing movies of 2017, we see that half of them are Disney movies, with Universal managing two on the list, and then one apiece for Sony, United Entertainment and Warner Bros (with the Sony property, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Jon Watts, USA, 2017, being a Marvel adaptation, meaning that this franchise might at some point return to Marvel Studios and thus to Disney, as happened recently with X-Men after the acquisition by Disney of Fox).

1 Beauty and the Beast Disney $1,263,521,126
2 The Fate of the Furious Universal $1,235,761,498
3 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Disney $1,056,389,228
4 Despicable Me 3 Universal $1,033,508,147
5 Spider-Man: Homecoming Sony Pictures $880,166,924
6 Wolf Warrior 2 United Entertainment $870,325,439
7 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Disney $863,732,512
8 Thor: Ragnarok $848,084,810
9 Wonder Woman Warner Bros. $821,847,012
10 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Disney $794,861,794

Now owning Fox, Marvel, the Star Wars universe, Pixar and of course its own back catalogue (Beauty and the Beast, Bill Condon, USA, 2017, is a remake of a 1991 animation), Disney’s stranglehold on contemporary cinema looks set to increase – not least because there can be endless spin-offs and spinouts and reboots and what have you of the Marvel and the Star Wars universes, exploring the everyday life of ewoks on Endor in a bid to get us watching only Disney and to Disneyfy the planet.

It is noteworthy that as per 2016, the highest grossing films are all sequels or remakes or part of a franchise and that basically all of them feature talking animals and/or flying humans. Some of these might have female, foreign and/or quasi-indie directors (Patty Jenkins, Taika Waititi, James Gunn, Rian Johnson), but they nonetheless all peddle fantasy, violence and escapism, as well as an emphasis on hyper-mobility and speed.

Soon after the invention of the lantern, writes Wolfgang Schivelbusch, light was weaponised, in the sense that it was used as a tool for policing behaviour, while also being used to blind enemies while the wielder of the light remains in darkness. In the era of the atomic bomb, the weaponisation of light becomes clear. And it becomes clearer still in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, when light speed is used to tear apart the destroyers of the Empire (or whatever it is now called).

Cinema also uses light in order to attract/distract attention, and thus in some senses is equally a mechanism of control and thus is put to military use. Some of the highest grossing movies gesture towards being politically progressive (postcolonial elements in Thor: Ragnarok and feminist elements in Wonder Woman), but one wonders that they reflect how cinema through its weaponised light is really the militarisation of all aspects of contemporary life, including political engagement (the militarisation of the postcolonial and woman, as opposed to militant postcolonialism and feminism).

But this mention of Wonder Woman allows me to get to my silly Disney conspiracy theory mentioned above. As Warner Bros owns the DC comic adaptations and as Disney owns Marvel, the studios are like the comic book publishers in competition with each other.

With the exception of Wonder Woman, though, all new Warner Bros films get critically panned, while all Disney films get praised to the heavens – perhaps especially the thoroughly mediocre Last Jedi. The opposition is made most clear when we look at how Captain America: Civil War (Anthony and Joe Russo, USA/Germany, 2016) was celebrated while Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder, USA, 2016) was derided, even though the two are basically the same film (one superhero mistakes another superhero for his enemy, when in fact they could work better together). Justice League (Zack Snyder, USA/UK/Canada, 2017) also received a critical drubbing, even though this viewer thought that it distinctly bore the hallmarks of Joss Whedon, the film’s writer and who does no wrong when he is writing scripts for Disney (e.g. Whedon’s Avengers movies).

Dissing Warner Bros films and praising Disney films – even though to this viewer they are all as good/bad as each other – leads me to this thought: no one knows what a good film is – and it is debatable that the criticisms of the Warners films truly dents their commercial appeal, since even if they are not as high on the list as the Disney films, they still make good money. But the perception of what a good film is becomes as stage-managed as cinema itself.

In other words, I sometimes wonder that somewhere behind the scenes, Disney is simply employing bots to tweet negative reviews of Warner Bros films in order to diminish their standing, while tweeting rave reviews of Disney films in order to improve their rating. Faced with the pressure of having to conform with what the kidz on the internets are saying (even though these accounts are as real as the influential accounts set up by the Russians during the recent American elections), flesh world critics end up agreeing with these perceptions (Warners bad, Disney good) in order to continue to look like they know what people like and thus to attract a wider readership. And so what is really going on is a hidden battle for ratings that in turn may or may not help takings played out across the digital media landscape.

I wish just to emphasise that this is a dumb conspiracy theory and not true. But part of me would not be too surprised if parts of it were true. It is cheap and easy to set up fake accounts and also easy to gain good reviews by paying off genuine online influencers. We know that the practice of buying good reviews has been long-standing in print journalism (just look at the Metro newspaper in London, and you will often see a three-star blockbuster given a full-page spread as Film of the Week, while a four-star documentary gets maybe half a paragraph on the next page – even though by definition the four-star film should be Film of the Week over the three-star film). So it would even be surprising if this did not happen to some extent in the twittersphere.

Performances of 2017
Having mentioned Wonder Woman, I might also suggest that Una mujer fantástica/A Fantastic Woman (Sebastián Lelio, Chile/Germany/Spain/USA, 2017) was paradoxically a much more empowered film, even if it is a film about a transexual, and thus someone whom certain people might claim is not therefore a ‘real’ woman. (Although given that she is immortal and that her body achieves blows that far surpass her shape and bone structure, I would find any claims that Wonder Woman as played by Gal Gadot is a ‘real woman’ highly curious, too.) In the year of Weinstein and so on, I would not want to suggest that it is a man (Lelio) who has made a more progressively feminist film than a woman (Jenkins). But since the films bear similar titles, it becomes hard not to compare them, and Una mujer fantástica is much more in alignment with my personal sensibilities than Wonder Woman – although I was sad to miss and hope soon to catch Mrs Marston and the Wonder Women (Angela Robinson, USA, 2017), which may well be the best of the three.

In starring Rebecca Hall, Mrs Marston and the Wonder Women reminds me of her turn in Christine (Antonio Campos, UK/USA, 2016), which I saw in 2017, and which likely remains an easy winner for the best performance that I saw in a film this year. Daniela Vega’s performance in Una mujer fantástica follows.

And then other standout performances would for me include the afore-mentioned Brooklynn Kimberly Prince in The Florida Project, Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea (who in a fraction of the time made me want to watch the film about her character and not Casey Affleck’s character), Mahershala Ali in Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016), Pyotr Skvortsov in The Student (Kirill Serebrennikov, Russia, 2016), Ruth Negga in Loving (Jeff Nichols, UK/USA, 2016), Sonia Braga in Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil/France, 2016), Ethymis Papadimitriou in Suntan (Argyris Papadimitropoulos, Greece/Germany, 2016), Ellie Kendrick in The Levelling (Hope Dickson Leach, UK, 2016), Jack Lowden in England is Mine (Mark Gill, UK, 2017), Nuno Lopes in São Jorge (Marco Martins, Portugal/France, 2016), Colin Farrell in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, UK/Ireland/USA, 2017) and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, Italy/France/Brazil/USA, 2017).

I want also to say how much I enjoyed specifically seeing Ewen Bremner return and evolve the character of Spud in the otherwise somewhat mediocre T2: Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, UK, 2017), while I continue to harbour soft spots for Keanu Reeves (in John Wick 2, Chad Stahelski, USA/Hong Kong, 2017), Dwayne Johnson (in Baywatch, Seth Gordon, UK/China/USA, 2017) and Tom Cruise (in American Made, Doug Liman, USA, 2017).

Finally, what with Assassin’s Creed (Justin Kurzel, USA/France/UK/Hong Kong/Taiwan/Malta, 2017), The Snowman (Tomas Alfredson, UK/USA/Sweden, 2017), Song to Song (Terrence Malick, USA, 2017) and, to a lesser extent, Alien: Covenant (Ridley Scott, USA/UK, 2017), it would appear that Michael Fassbender continues to choose complete codswallop. Were it not for his remarkable turn in the equally remarkable Trespass Against Us (Adam Smith, UK, 2016), I’d be worried about chalking Fassbender up as a lost cause. (Trespass Against Us also featured good turns from the ever-reliable Brendan Gleeson, while Barry Keoghan also got about between this film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan, UK/Netherlands/France/USA, 2017.)

Movie watching in 2017
Listed at the bottom of this blog are 387 films that I saw in 2017. The absolute vast majority of these are films that I saw for the first time.

That said, while normally I do not list the relatively significant number of films that I watch not for the first time, be that because of teaching or research (the total likely would be around 450 if these were included), a couple are listed below – and for slightly different reasons (maybe because I gave a talk about a specific film and so seeing it was tied to a specific event, which is the case with Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese, USA, 1990; or maybe because I went to the cinema to watch the film before realising that I had seen it before, which is the case with All This Panic, Jenny Gage, USA, 2016; or maybe because I am still not sure whether I have seen the film before or not, which is the case for The Patience Stone (Atiq Rahimi, Afghanistan/France/Germany/UK, 2012), which seemed familiar throughout, but I just cannot remember when I first saw it if indeed I had seen it before).

Typically I do not include short films on my end of year list, but I have in fact begun to list short films quite regularly, especially when they are work by ‘artist filmmakers’ and whose œuvre gets showcased on MUBI (e.g. Jay Rosenblatt).

Anyway, of these 387 films, I saw 183 at the cinema, with a further 150 online – mainly on MUBI, although I was beginning for my sins to watch an increasing number of films on Amazon’s rental and buying service. I had rented but did not quite find time to see a few films that I really wanted to watch in 2017, but which I shall now have to watch in 2018, including Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda, USA, 2017) and I Am Not a Witch (Rungano Nyoni, UK/France/Germany, 2017).

In addition to these two main sources of film viewing, I saw 34 films on DVD, 18 on an aeroplane and two on television, while I also include on the list Homecoming, Richard Mosse’s video installation at the Barbican, both because much of it was quite remarkable audiovisual work, and because it really is worth seeing if you have not and get the chance.

Clearly, therefore, I have not seen all of the films released in 2017, and thus am not in a particularly strong position of authority to make pronouncements about the best films of the year, etc.

Nonetheless, I shall describe below a few more of my experiences before highlighting the five films that really stood out for me this year, as well as some thoughts on end of year film lists in general.

Particularly pleasurable this year was to see various of the films by Philippine slow cinema auteur Lav Diaz. Thanks to a series of screenings up at the University of Westminster’s campus in Harrow, combined with a season of his films on MUBI, I was able to sit through some c40 hours of Diaz’s work – leaving me I think with a tick against every feature film that he has made.

Following his death in 2016, it was also a great pleasure to be able to see various films by the late Julio García Espinosa at Birkbeck, University of London, where Professor Michael Chanan curated a retrospective of JGE’s work, including the brilliant Son o no son (Cuba, 1980).

MUBI also offered introductions to various other filmmakers whose work I am glad to have come to know, including Sergei Loznitsa, Pia Marais and Oliver Laxe. MUBI also provided an entry into a whole slew of films by El Pampero Cine, a group of filmmakers including Mariano Llinás, Alejo Moguillansky, Verónica Llinás and Laura Citarella, who make very intelligent work out in the Argentine countryside.

A remarkable film that I saw on MUBI, but which would not be in my films of the year because it is too old is Até ver a luz/After the Night (Basil da Cunha, Switzerland, 2013), which together with the above-mentioned São Jorge shows real depth to contemporary Portuguese cinema, beyond the likes of Miguel Gomes, Pedro Costa and João Pedro Rodrigues.

MUBI also allowed me to further my knowledge of the work of Raoul Ruiz (four films), while YouTube provided me with an opportunity to see four films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (and which I really should have seen beforehand). Furthermore, the double bill of Pere Portabella’s Informe general sobre unas cuestiones de interés para una proyección pública (Spain, 1977) and Informe general II: el nou rapte d’Europa/General Report II: The New Abduction of Europe (Spain, 2015) also felt very timely as a result of Brexit and the recent unrest in Catalonia.

With regard to online film viewing, I am also glad to have encountered the work of Fabrizio Federico, whose Pregnant (UK, 2015) is one of the most remarkable punk and experimental films that I have seen.

The year also started very well with regard to experimental cinema, as in the same week I saw 55 Years on the Infinite Plain by Tony Conrad at Tate Modern, before then also seeing La région centrale (Michael Snow, Canada, 1971) at the Serpentine Gallery. I also got to see some audiovisual work live by Phill Niblock at Tate Modern also relatively early on in 2017.

Before I go on to discuss the films that I thought were strong, I was in particular sad to miss a couple of films, especially Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Sophie Fiennes, Ireland/UK, 2017) and God’s Own Country (Francis Lee, UK, 2017), which I suspect would have joined The Levelling, Trespass Against Us and England is Mine as strong British movies of 2017, with three of these notably taking place outside of the cities and instead in the countryside. I also wanted very much to watch Bar Bahar/In Between (Maysaloun Hamoud, Israel/France, 2016).

Films of the Year
So, in addition to various of the films mentioned above (perhaps especially The Florida ProjectUna mujer fantásticaThe Levelling, Moonlight and Aquarius), I’d add these films as pretty good and thus as proxime accessunt to a relatively arbitrary bar, but the measure of which is a film that makes me rethink my understanding of something, including life, the universe and cinema itself.

These films include: Get Out (Jordan Peele, Japan/USA, 2017), Neruda (Pablo Larraín, Chile/Argentina/France/Spain/USA, 2016), Grave/Raw (Julia Ducournau, France/Belgium/Italy, 2016), Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, USA, 2016), Twentieth Century Women (Mike Mills, USA, 2016), Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, USA, 2016), The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer, USA, 2015), Prevenge (Alice Lowe, UK, 2016), Homo sapiens (Niklaus Geyrhalter, Switzerland/Germany/Austria, 2016), Miss Sloane (John Madden, France/USA, 2016), Kedi (Ceyda Torun, Turkey/USA, 2016), City of Ghosts (Matthew Heineman, USA, 2017), Step (Amanda Lipitz, USA, 2017), A Ghost Story (David Lowery, USA, 2017), Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, USA, 2017), Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S. Craig Zahler, USA, 2017), Patti Cake$ (Geremy Jasper, USA, 2017) and El auge humano/The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams, Argentina/Brazil/Portugal, 2016).

The latter of these films came closest to being on the list of five below.

That said, the list below is not five because of any reason other than that these films really did kind of ‘blow me away,’ in the sense mentioned above of making me rethink the world/life/the universe. I personally don’t see the point of naming 10 films or 20 or any number for the sake of it. To do so is arbitrary and it leads to adding in and ruling out movies for very imprecise reasons – albeit that these can have real effects (with regard to my own filmmaking, the number of screenings that my films get relates very directly to the number of mentions that they have in various different media; getting a friend even to Tweet or mention one of my films in a blog seems like the biggest task in the world, in that rarely will anyone do me that favour [perhaps because they think that my films are rubbish]; that said, where normally I list my own films in my annual round-up, since technically I have seen them… this year I have not, though I could mention The Benefit of Doubt, UK, 2017, Circle/Line, UK, 2017, Sculptures of London, UK, 2017, and #randomaccessmemory, UK, 2017, all of which I completed this year).

Thinking about end of year lists also makes me think that 1 January is a weird date to start the year. That is, from a UK perspective, why start it 10 days after a solstice and seven days after a major religious festival (Christmas)? Why not start the year on the solstice, such that the year aligns with the sun? (But, then, whose solstice? But, then again, why this solstice?)

Either way, the entire thing seems irrational and so to mark an irrational transition with a list seems… irrational, even if organisationally sensible, I guess.

What also seems irrational is that any year will be better or worse than another.

But finally I’d just like to say that if my list is of films that really opened my mind, then in some senses that list runs the risk of only getting smaller as I get older, experience more and come across fewer novel approaches to the world… This does not necessarily follow (why is there not just an endless stream of new visions from different people and people who become different by virtue of themselves changing?), but it is a risk.

What I want to suggest, though, is that when one sees a film and says ‘yeah, that’s fine,’ but someone else sees that film and goes ‘wow, that blew me away,’ then one simultaneously wonders what they have or have not experienced and one wonders what one must have missed in order for them to find that film so good that you only found fine.

The same can happen with end of year lists, then, but on a grander scale, as one wonders how many films other people must have seen and/or how closely they or I watched the ones that did or did not make it on to their lists such that they get or got named there.

When the lists themselves become predictable (like the selection of films at Cannes, for example), then the films on the list – as well as lists more generally – can looked tired, formulaic, uninspired and uninspiring.

These five films, though, really did inspire me in my thinking, and so I include them not for the purposes of choosing films that are more obscure than thou, but to see if they also can inspire other people – who might otherwise look at me and ask what it is that I have experienced to like these films most from 2017.

This… together with a sense of increasingly liking only films that try to break cinema as I find cinema technologically, industrially, aesthetically and institutionally a problematic medium, and which at times therefore I think should be disbanded…

Here goes:-

Island (Steven Eastwood, UK, 2017)
An incredible documentary about people dying at a hospital on the Isle of Wight. Philosophically very profound.

La región salvaje/The Untamed (Amat Escalante, Mexico/Denmark/France/Germany/Norway/Switzerland, 2016)
A brilliant study of life on Earth and perversion.

Félicité (Alain Gomis, France/Belgium/Senegal/Germany/Lebanon, 2017)
Gomis basically has no fear of making a raw film about life in contemporary Kinshasa.

Work in Progress (Adam Sekuler, USA, 2017)
Had I seen Homo sapiens before this, the two might have swapped places – but this one got there first, even though they are in various respects similar. Nonetheless a brilliant and contemplative documentary that looks at the role of work in the contemporary world.

Good Time (Josh and Ben Safdie, USA, 2017)
The film I feel most uneasy about including because others have included it widely on their lists. I am late to the Safdies (this was my first film by them), but this has much to commend it, including two great performances from Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie.

As I look at all of these films, I am ashamed at the eurocentrism of my tastes, and in particular by the lack of films from Asia that I have seen/included this year.

But there we go. Hopefully I can do better in 2018.

‘Full’ List of Films Seen in 2017

 

Key:-
Film Title (Director’s Name)

No marker – seen in cinema
* = seen online (specifically streaming)
^ = seen on DVD or file
+ = seen on aeroplane
” = seen on television
> = seen in a gallery

When see you the entry surrounded by parentheses – as follows: (Film Title (Director’s Name)) – it means that I had already seen the film, or at least I think I may well have seen the film before.

Silence (Martin Scorsese)
A Letter to Elia (Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones)
Hud (Martin Ritt)*
Médecin de Campagne (Thomas Lilti)
Duelle (Jacques Rivette)^
55 Years on the Infinite Plain (Tony Conrad)
La région centrale (Michael Snow)
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
(Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese))
La femme du boulanger (Marcel Pagnol)
Railroad Tigers (Ding Sheng)
La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
Dangal (Nitesh Tiwari)
Elegy to a Visitor from the Revolution (Lav Diaz)*
The Train Stop (Sergei Loznitsa)*
Assassin’s Creed (Justin Kurzel)
A Monster Calls (J.A. Bayona)
Le fils de Joseph (Eugène Green)*
Work In Progress (Adam Sekuler)*
America America (Elia Kazan)
The Big Country (William Wyler)
The Settlement (Sergei Loznitsa)*
Jackie (Pablo Larraín)
Lion (Garth Davis)
Split (M Night Shyamalan)
The Nights of Zayandeh-rood (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood)*
10+4 (Mania Akbari)
Cairo Station (Youssef Chahine)^
Christine (Antonio Campos)
Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)
Triple Agent (Eric Rohmer)*
Victoria (Justine Triet)
T2: Trainspotting (Danny Boyle)
Buddies in India (Wang Baoqiang)
Chinese Roulette (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)*
Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson)
Zero Day (Alex Gibney)*
Loving (Jeff Nichols)
Marguérite et Julien (Valérie Donzelli)*
Baraka (Ron Fricke)
Samsara (Ron Fricke)
(Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade))
Twentieth Century Women (Mike Mills)
(Heremakono (Abderrahmane Sissako)^)
Moka (Frédéric Mermoud)*
Portrait (Sergei Loznitsa)*
Death in the Land of Encantos (Lav Diaz)
Factory (Sergei Loznitsa)*
Zootropolis (Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush)^
Ten Meter Tower (Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson)*
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ang Lee)
Prevenge (Alice Lowe)
Tiya’s Dream (Abderrahmane Sissako)*
Lovetrue (Alma Har’el)
Fences (Denzel Washington)
Batang West Side (Lav Diaz)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery (Lav Diaz)
Ruined Heart: Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore (Khavn de la Cruz)^
An Investigation on the Night that Won’t Forget (Lav Diaz)*
The Great Wall (Zhang Yimou)
Patriots Day (Peter Berg)
Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi)
Blockade (Sergei Loznitsa)*
Logan (James Mangold)
Bunny Lake is Missing (Otto Preminger)*
Letter (Sergei Loznitsa)*
The Woman Who Left (Lav Diaz)
Trespass Against Us (Adam Smith)
Thumbsucker (Mike Mills)*
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer)*
Kong: Skull Island (Jordan Vogt-Roberts)
Le parc (Damien Manivel)*
Rostov-Luanda (Abderrahmane Sissako)^
(La vie sur terre (Abderrahmane Sissako)^)
The Student (Kirill Serebrennikov)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
Le jeu (Abderrahmane Sissako)*
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Tim Burton)*
Le roi de l’évasion (Alain Guiraudie)*
Microbe et Gasoil (Michel Gondry)*
The Love Witch (Anna Biller)*
Domitilla (Zeb Ejiro)*
Sexto aniversario (Julio García Espinosa)^
Dancer (Steven Cantor)
Viceroy’s House (Gurinder Chadha)
Aventuras de Juan Quinquin (Julio García Espinosa)
Son o no son (Julia García Espinosa)
In memoriam (Paul Leduc)
Les aventures d’Arsène Lupin (Jacques Becker)
La región salvaje (Amat Escalante)
Get Out (Jordan Peele)
(All This Panic (Jenny Gage))
My Old Lady (Israel Horowitz)*
100 Mile Radius (Environment III) (Phill Niblock)
T H I R (aka Ten Hundred Inch Radii) (Environments IV) (Phill Niblock)
The Age of Shadows (Kim Jee-Woon)
Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
Life (Daniel Espinosa)
The Lost City of Z (James Grey)
Ghost in the Shell (Rupert Sanders)
Filmfarsi (Ehsan Khoshbakht)
Lettre de Beyrouth (Jocelyne Saab)
Beyrouth, jamais plus (Jocelyne Saab)
Beyrouth, ma ville (Jocelyne Saab)
Free Fire (Ben Wheatley)
Viva (Anna Biller)*
Demain on déménage (Chantal Akerman)*
Grave (Julia Ducournau)
For Ellen (So Yong Kim)*
I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck)
The Merchant of Four Seasons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)*
Graduation (Cristian Mungiu)
Florentina Hubaldo CTE (Lav Diaz)*
Neruda (Pablo Larraín)
The Sense of an Ending (Ritesh Batra)
Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks)*
incoming (Richard Mosse)>
The Trip to Spain (Michael Winterbottom)”
Los colores de la montaña (Carlos César Arbeláez)
Los cuerpos dóciles (Diego Gachassin and Matías Scarvaci)
El futuro perfecto (Nele Wohlatz)
Na sua companhia (Marcelo Caetano)*
Beauty and the Beast (Bill Condon)
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (Juho Kuosmanen)
The Transfiguration (Michael O’Shea)
Their Finest (Lone Scherfig)
Clash (Mohamed Diab)
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (James Gunn)
Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd)
Suntan (Argyris Papadimitropoulos)
Effi Briest (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)*
Young Love Lost (Xiang Guoqiang)
Mr Donkey (Liu Lu and Zhou Shen)
Nights and Weekends (Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg)*
Pleasure Love (Huang Yao)
Félicité (Alain Gomis)
The Road to Mandalay (Midi Z)
Re:Orientations (Richard Fung)
Fox and His Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)*
Mindhorn (Sean Foley)
The Promise (Terry George)
Honor and Glory (Godfrey Ho)*
Homo Sapiens (Nikolaus Geyrhalter)
Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise (Mark Cousins)*
Harmonium (Koji Fukada)
The Levelling (Hope Dickson Leach)
Frantz (François Ozon)
(Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky))
The Queen of Katwe (Mira Nair)+
City of Tiny Lights (Pete Travis)+
Alien: Covenant (Ridley Scott)
Maman(s) (Maïmouna Ducouré)+
Dear Zindagi (Gauri Shinde)+
Homme au bain (Christophe Honoré)*
Baywatch (Seth Gordon)
The Other Side of Hope (Aki Kaurismäki)
The Red Turtle (Michaël Dudok de Wit)
Miss Sloane (John Madden)
Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins)
A Century of Birthing (Lav Diaz)*
Les hautes solitudes (Philippe Garrel)*
Fahrenheit 451 (François Truffaut)^
The Mummy (Alex Kurtzman)
Tom of Finland (Dome Karukoski)
The Road Movie (Dimitrii Kalashnikov)
Island (Steven Eastwood)
El rey tuerto (Marc Crehuet)
Plato’s Phaedrus (dn rodowick)
Kedi (Ceyda Torun)
Les gouffres (Antoine Barriaud)*
Song to Song (Terrence Malick)
A Man Called Ove (Hannes Holm)
The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola)
Edith Walks (Andrew Kötting)*
Baby Driver (Edgar Wright)
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan)
City of Ghosts (Matthew Heineman)
I Am Not Madame Bovary (Feng Xiaogang)
Una mujer fantástica (Sebastián Lelio)
Détour (Michel Gondry)*
Today (Reza Mirkarimi)
Portrait of Madame Yuki (Kenji Mizoguchi)
Kóblic (Sebastián Borensztein)
Voyage of Time (Terrence Malick)
Inversion (Behnam Behzadi)
Visages Villages (Agnès Varda & JR)
Anarchy in the UK (Jett Hollywood)*
Transformers: The Last Knight (Michael Bay)
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter)
War for the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves)
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Luc Besson)
England is Mine (Mark Gill)
Pregnant (Fabrizio Federico)*
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)^
The ABCs of Death (Various directors)^
Atomic Blonde (David Leitch)
Step (Amanda Lipitz)
Maudie (Aisling Walsh)
A Ghost Story (David Lowery)
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk)
Eldorado XXI (Salomé Lamas)*
The Italian (Andrei Kravchuk)^
Whisky (Pablo Stoll and Juan Pablo Rebella)^
From Greece (Peter Nestler)*
Arunoday (Partho Sen-Gupta)+
Crosscurrent (Chao Yang)+
Gbomo Gbomo Express (Walter ‘Waltbanger’ Taylaur)+
Vers Mathilde (Claire Denis)*
Rhine River (Peter Nestler)*
Death and Devil (Peter Nestler)*
The Event (Sergei Loznitsa)*
The Ferry (Attia Amin)+
Om Shanti Om (Farah Khan)+
Night Train to Lisbon (Bille August)+
Sisterhood (Tracy Choi)+
Nieve negra (Martín Hodara)+
Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh)
Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow)
Dilwale (Rohit Shetty)+
The Young Karl Marx (Raoul Peck)+
Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughn)+
The LEGO Batman Movie (Christian McKay)+
Balnearios (Mariano Llinás)*
Away With Me (Oliver Mason)*
Souvenirs d’un montreur de seins (Bertrand Mandico)*
Historias extraordinarias (Mariano Llinás)*
La impresión de una guerra (Camilo Restrepo)*
Underground Fragrance (Song Pengfei)*
Kontra Madiaga (Khavn de la Cruz)*
It (Andy Muschietti)
American Made (Doug Liman)
El auge del humano (Eduardo Williams)*
Description d’un combat (Chris Marker)*
Castro (Alejo Moguillansky)*
Vive la baleine (Mario Ruspoli and Chris Marker)*
Y a-t-il une vierge encore vivante? (Bertrand Mandico)*
El loro y el cisne (Alejo Moguillansky)*
Maelström (Denis Villeneuve)^
Dev.D (Anurag Kashyap)^
El escarabajo de oro (Alejo Moguillansky and Fia-Stina Sandlund)*
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Patrick Hughes)
Volta à Terra (João Pedro Plácido)*
Soul Food Stories (Tonislav Hristov)
A Run for Money (Reha Erdem)*
Ostende (Laura Citarella)*
La mujer de los perros (Laura Citarella and Verónica Llinás)*
Notre Dame des Hormones (Bertrand Mandico)*
Miséricorde (Fulvio Bernasconi)*
Stronger (David Gordon Green)
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Matthew Vaughn)
Yenish Sounds (Karoline Arn and Martina Rieder)*
Juana a los 12 (Martín Shanly)*
Damiana Kryygi (Alejandro Fernández Mouján)*
Depressive Cop (Bertrand Mandico)*
A Respectable Family (Massoud Bakshi)*
Regeneration (Raoul Walsh)*
Europe, She Loves (Jan Gassmann)*
La León (Santiago Otheguy)*
Flatliners (Niels Arden Oplev)
Pueblo en vilo (Patricio Guzmán)*
Victoria and Abdul (Stephen Frears)
La ville des pirates (Raúl Ruiz)*
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House (Peter Landesman)
Risk (Laura Poitras)^
Le bonheur (Agnès Varda)*
Point de fuite (Raúl Ruiz)*
The Foreigner (Martin Campbell)
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve)
Agua fría de mar (Paz Fábrega)*
Blade Runner Black Out 2022 (Shinichiro Watanabe)*
Blade Runner 2036: Nexus Dawn (Luke Scott)*
Blade Runner 2048: Nowhere to Run (Luke Scott)*
The Law in these Parts (Ra’anan Alexandrowicz)^
Scialla! (Francesco Bruni)
Santouri – The Music Man (Dariush Mehrjui)^
Project X (Henrik Moltke and Laura Poitras)*
Le concours (Claire Simon)*
You Are All Captains (Oliver Laxe)*
Napolislam (Ernesto Pagano)
The State I Am In (Christian Petzold)*
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman)
The Man Who Left His Will on Film (Nagisa Oshima)^
The Snowman (Tomas Alfredson)
Blessed Benefit (Mahmoud Al Massad)
Porcile (Pier Paolo Pasolini)^
Paraísos artificiales (Yulene Olaizola)*
The Great Wall (Tadhg O’Sullivan)*
A Simple Event (Sohrab Shahid-Saless)*
Trois vies et une seule mort (Raúl Ruiz)*
The Traveler (Abbas Kiarostami)^
mother! (Darren Aronofsky)
Human Flow (Ai Weiwei)
Geostorm (Dean Devlin)
Eva no duerme (Pablo Agüero)*
Naissance des pieuvres (Céline Sciamma)*
Ce jour-là (Raúl Ruiz)*
Into a Dream (Sion Sono)*
Burn! (Gillo Pontecorvo)^
N’oublie pas que tu vas mourir (Xavier Beauvois)*
El vendedor de orquídeas (Lorenzo Vigas)*
Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine (Bahman Farmanara)^
El mar (Agustí Villaronga)*
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S. Craig Zahler)
La sirga (William Vega)*
Only the Brave (Joseph Kosinski)
Suburbicon (George Clooney)
Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi)
Impolex (Alex Ross Perry)*
Spring (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead)*
Kapò (Gillo Pontecorvo)^
No sucumbió la eternidad (Daniela Rea Gómez)*
At Ellen’s Age (Pia Marais)*
When Monaliza Smiled (Fadi Haddad)
Layla Fourie (Pia Marais)*
Informe general sobre unas cuestiones de interés para una proyección pública (Pere Portabella)*
General Report II: The New Abduction of Europe (Pere Portabella)*
Villegas (Gonzalo Tobal)*
Tem Gringo No Morro (Marjorie Niele and Bruno Graziano)*
The Void (Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski)*
Mafioso (Alberto Lattuada)
The Pornographers (Shohei Imamura)^
The Dresser (Peter Yates)*
White Ant (Chu Hsien-che)*
Restricted (Jay Rosenblatt)*
Murder on the Orient Express (Kenneth Branagh)
Justice League (Zack Snyder)
The Living Corpse (Khwaja Sarfaraz)^
Até ver a luz (Basil da Cunha)*
Las horas muertas (Aarón Fernández)*
Bye Bye Brazil (Carlos Diegues)^
Sérail (Eduardo De Gregorio)*
Worm (Jay Rosenblatt and Caveh Zahedi)*
Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani)^
São Jorge (Marco Martins)*
Okja (Joon-ho Bong)*
Sight (Eran May-Raz and Daniel Lazo)*
Waves ’98 (Ely Dagher)*
La pesca (Pablo Alvarez-Mesa and Fernando López Escriva)*
Camp de Thiaroye (Ousmane Sembène and Thierno Faty Sow)^
Cidade Cinza (Guilherme Valiengo and Marcelo Mesquita)*
The Conspiracy (Christopher MacBride)*
Wonder (Stephen Chbosky)
Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes)
The Mountain Between Us (Hany Abu-Assad)
A Viagem de Yoani (Pepe Siffredi and Raphael Bottino)*
Good Time (Josh and Ben Safdie)
[The Silence (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)^]
Xenos (Mahdi Fleifel)
A Man Returned (Mahdi Fleifel)
A Drowning Man (Mahdi Fleifel)
La cuerda floja (Nuria Ibáñez)*
Sharp Tools (Nujoom Al-Ghanem)
Mary Shelley (Haifaa al-Mansour)
Under Electric Clouds (Aleksei German Jr)*
L’illusion comique (Mathieu Amalric)*
Into the Arms of Strangers (Mark Jonathan Harris)*
Sofía y el terco (Andrés Burgos)*
Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Jacques Rivette)^
Beats of the Antonov (hajooj kuka)*
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson)
Nine Lives (The Eternal Moment of Now) (Jay Rosenblatt)*
[The Patience Stone (Atiq Rahimi)*?]
Prayer (Jay Rosenblatt)*
Coco (Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina)
I Used to be a Filmmaker (Jay Rosenblatt)*
Comet (Sam Esmail)^
Queen of Earth (Alex Ross Perry)*
Hanna (Joe Wright)*
Uncle Kent 2 (Todd Rohal)*
The Twilight (Mohammad Rasoulof)^
The Killing of a Sacred Dear (Yorgos Lanthimos)
The Sheik and I (Caveh Zahedi)*
Patti Cake$ (Geremy Jasper)+
The Other Land (Ali Idrees)+
Whitney: Can I Be Me (Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal)*
Assistance mortelle (Raoul Peck)*
Heaven Knows What (Josh and Ben Safdie)*
Brave (Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell)^
John Wick: Chapter 2 (Chad Stahelski)”
The Disaster Artist (James Franco)
Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci)
Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker)
Happy End (Michael Haneke)
White Christmas (Michael Curtiz)