An expert group has chosen the greatest film ever made by a woman.
Jeanne Dielman 23 quai au Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, directed and produced by Chantal Akerman has won the British Film Institute’s Sight or Sound poll.
It’s the first time that a female-directed work has made it to the top 10. The poll, which is run every ten years, has been criticised as lacking diversity.
Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane won the title for 40 consecutive years.
In 2012, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo overtook it.
Jeanne Dielman is a 1975 film about a Belgian widow who prostitutes to make ends meet. However, she also kills one of her clients. The film lasts almost three hours.
It isn’t as well-known in the film critic world as other winners, but it has been hailed as a “masterpiece” as and a pioneering piece of feminist cinema.
Chantal Akerman (the Belgian director) died in 2015, at the age of 65.
Lillian Crawford (film critic and writer) contributed to the poll.
“Jeanne Dielman doesn’t seem like a film I would recommend to someone who’s interested in cinema, ‘Oh! this is the film you absolutely must watch’,” she said to the BBC.
“I think it would be a good idea to reverse the order of the list and work towards it. It’s a lot to ask people to view this.
“But, in an academic sense, thinking about cinema, encouraging more people to search out experimental film, films made by women, and in terms the history and culture of feminist cinema, this text is absolutely essential.”
Laura Mulvey from Birkbeck University’s film studies department called the vote “a sudden shake up” in an article she wrote for the British Film Institute
She wrote that “things will never be as they were before.”
The British Film Institute’s Sight and Sound Magazine has conducted the poll every decade since 1952.
It was criticised for its lack of diversity by the experts polled, and the selection of the 100 best movies.
Jeanne Dielman and Djibril Djip Mambety’s Touki Bouki were the only two films that had been directed by women in 2012
Over the years, the number and variety of people consulted has increased. 1.639 critics. Programmmers. Archivists. Academics were asked to select their top ten films.
Vertigo won the last time, and Citizen Kane came in third.