BBC Culture put together the 100 greatest films directed by women, and on the list, there is two Hungarian, one Czech, and one Polish movie, including Věra Chytilová’s 1966 classic, Daisies, making it to the Top 10.
According to kafkadesk.org, 368 film experts – including critics, journalists, festival programmers, and movie academics – chose from 800 films coming from 84 countries. Among the 368 members of the jury, there were 185 female voters, 181 male voters, one non-binary person, and one who preferred not to say, so BBC Culture created a gender-balanced poll during which each one of them had to list their 10 favourite films.
In the end, four Central European movies and filmmakers made the top 100:
97. Adoption by Márta Mészáros (1975) – Hungary
This little gem from the 1970s – says kafkadesk.org – was directed by Márta Mészáros and revolves around Kata, a 43-year-old single factory worker, and Anna, a teenage schoolgirl abandoned by her parents at the age of six, and the growing, multi-faceted bond that starts forming between the two women. Márta Mészáros was the first woman to be awarded the Golden Bear at the 25th Berlin International Film Festival for this movie. Born in 1931, Márta Mészáros is also known for Diary of my Children (1984) and The Last Report on Anna (2009).
Here you can watch the trailer:
73. On Body and Soul by Ildikó Enyedi (2017) – Hungary
The film was celebrated by both critics and moviegoers all around the world and tells the story of Endre, the manager of a small slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Budapest, and Maria, the enigmatic and cryptic quality-control inspector – two outcasts whose lives and existences become increasingly intertwined. This incredibly moving film was nominated for the Academy Award of Best Foreign Language Film 2018, and even though it did not win, it confirmed Enyedi’s place as one of the most prominent contemporary filmmakers in Hungary.
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Ildikó Enyedi’s next movie, The Story of my Wife, based on Milan Fust’s novel and starring Lea Seydoux, is due to come out next year.
Here you can watch the trailer:
72. Europa Europa by Agnieszka Holland (1990) – Poland
The Polish director, Agnieszka Holland, is the most well-known filmmaker from Central Europe, and her masterpiece, Europa Europa, has also made it to the top 100 of BBC’s list. The film was nominated for the Academy Award in the Best Screenplay category, and it centres around the incredible adventure – inspired by real events – of a young Jewish boy who, separated from the rest of his family at the beginning of World War II, poses as a German orphan and eventually goes on to join the Hitler Youth. Agnieszka Holland has written and directed more than 50 movies throughout an incredibly prolific career, more recently directing several episodes of Netflix’s dystopian TV-series 1983.
Here is the trailer:
6. Daisies by Věra Chytilová (1966) – Czech Republic
“Today it is clear that Daisies, a collaborative effort of the finest artists in the Czechoslovak New Wave, with avant-garde montages, beautiful set design and superb photography, was among the best films to come out of that decade,” writes film critic Hynek Pallas.
The film was made at the height of the Czechoslovak New Wave in the 1960s and is one of the first feature films directed by filmmaker Věra Chytilová. Daisies tells the gripping story of two teenage girls, both named Marie, who embark on a freewheeling destructive path to spoil the world and the environment they live in. Since it is very critical towards the Czechoslovak communist regime, it was banned almost immediately by censors, and the director, Věra Chytilová, widely seen as one of the most influential Czech avant-garde directors, was forbidden to work for several years after its release.
Interviewed by Czech Radio, film critic Hynek Pallas argues that “Daisies is still revolutionary today because the norms that it confronts in society still have more than a ring of truth in today’s society.”
Jane Campion’s The Piano (1993) was voted as the greatest film directed by a woman, in front of Agnès Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962) and Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles by Chantal Akerman (1975).