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Culture Lust by Angela Carone

100 Greatest Directors, AKA The Boy's Club

British mag Total Film just published a list of the greatest 100 film directors of all time. You can find part I here , which begins with Abel Ferrara at 100, and part II here , which ends with Alfred Hitchcock at #1.

You know what's depressing about this list? There is only one woman on it! In the history of cinema, they could come up with only one woman for a list of 100 greatest directors of all time. And I don't even agree with their choice: Sofia Coppola . I'm a huge fan, don't get me wrong, but does her body of work measure up to, say, Jane Campion's ? When looking around for other women I thought should be included, I became even more depressed. There are a lot of excellent female directors out there -- Mira Nair , Kimberly Pierce , Rebecca Miller , Mary Harron , Julie Dash -- but they don't have a large body of work. Hmmmm, wonder why that is? Could it be opportunity and funding?



Daughters of the Dust

Julie Dash is a perfect example - a black woman whose first film Daughters of the Dust was incredibly beautiful. When I saw it on the big screen, I was mesmerized. The film came out in 1991 and guess what? It was the first film by an African American woman to be released in theaters. In 1991! What happened to Julie Dash? She hasn't made another film since.

That said, here's why the list is fun: It's a pretty decent representation of male directors. Although, I was sad to see that Wes Anderson didn't make it. I'd kick off Rob Reiner and add him. Who else is missing? Let me know.

The list is also fun because they did the whole Vanity Fair Hollywood issue thing where they gave the directors names like "The Outsider" or "The Visionary." Personally, I'd like to see them get a little wacky with this device - which they did at times. Abel Ferrara got "The Street Punk" and Roman Polanski got "The Poison Dwarf." I love Nicholas Ray's : "The Romantic Pessimist." John Molina
August 22, 2007 at 11:46 PM
I haven't seen the list, but as a sometime cinefile of 20th century cinsema, I just hope the late Gillo Pontecorvo is up there, way up there. As Jonathan Demme called him, he was a "master of the cinema." -----


Alan Lefcourt
August 24, 2007 at 01:37 AM
How about Ida Lupino? Lena Wertmuller (sp?)? Sally Potter? Julie Taymor (esp. for Titus)? Hard to believe Sophia Coppola is the only woman on the list. Can't be much of a list.

Beth Accomando
August 25, 2007 at 07:06 AM
The 100 greatest directors? Well any list is bound to stir debate. First of all you have to determine what constitutes great--is it someone who's impacted the medium? Someone whose body of work has stood the test of time? Someone who pushes the medium to its breaking point? Or is it someone who is popular? Someone whose films have made money? Someone whose name is readily recognizable? That being said, there are some pleasant surprises on the list--Abel Ferrara, George Romero, Miyazaki, Preston Sturges, Wong Kar Wai, Leone. Some expected greats: Kurosawa, Fellini, Ozu, Cassavetes, Truffaut, Bresson. But then directors like Scorsese (as great as he is) may start having to get points docked if he makes more films like The Aviator and Gangs of New York. But there's something wrong when Tony Scott, Curtis Hanson and Rob Reiner ranking higher than John Woo, Wong Kar Wai and D.W. Griffith. As for the lack of women, I echo Alan's mention of Lupino, Wertmuller, Potter and Taymor and would add Barabar Loden, Gillian Armstrong, Chantal Ackerman, Elaine May, Agnes Varda, Diane Kurys, Barbara Kopple, Mira Nair, Joan Micklin Silver, Margarethe Von Trotta and hey even Leni Reifenstahl. Here's a link to a Variety report on women in film now. And I'd like to put in a word for a few more foreign filmmakers. What about South Korea--Im Kwon Taek or Park Chan Wook. And from Taiwan, Hous Hsiou Hsien, Tsai Ming Liang or Edward Yang. If you include Herzog what about Fassbinder or Wenders? If Fellini, where's DeSica and Antonioni? If Melville and Godard, why not Alain Resnais, Claude Chabrol, Louis Malle, Eric Rohmer and Jean Cocteau? And for African American directors: Charles Burnett, Gordon Parks, Carl Franklin or John Singleton? And then there are directors like Africa's Ousmane Sembene, China's Zhang Yimou, Japan's Takashi Miike, Mexico's Guillermo Del Toro and Arturo Ripstein, Iran's Jafar Panahi, Majid Majidi and Makhmalbaf family, Bosnia's Emir Kusturica... Okay, I better stop before I end up with a new list of 100 (and I know I've left someone off that I'll regret in the morning). I know some of these filmmakers are not household names but any one of these is better than Tony Scott or Bryan Singer. But then maybe the list is meant to be the greatest best-known directors in the western world. But then I guess the real purpose of making a list is to rile everyone else up to come up with their own.