A film that was directed by a woman was chosen by a panel of experts as the best of all time.
Jeanne Dielman (23 quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles), directed by Chantal Akkerman, has been voted top of the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound poll.
This is the first time that a work by a woman director has made it to the top ten. This poll is conducted every ten years and has been criticised because it lacks diversity.
Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane held the winning spot for 40 years.
In 2012, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo took over.
Jeanne Dielman was released in 1975. It tells the story of a Belgian widow, who uses prostitution to make ends met, but then kills one her clients. It runs almost three and half hours.
Although it is not as well-known as the previous winners in film criticism, it has been called a “masterpiece” and a groundbreaking piece of feminist film.
Chantal Akerman, the Belgian director died in 2015 at age 65.
Lillian Crawford, a writer and film critic, contributed to the poll. She said that the film was the essential text in feminist cinema.
She told BBC that Jeanne Dielman was not a film she would recommend to anyone who is interested in cinema: “Oh, this film is the first you must see.”
“I think that if you are going to go through the list in reverse order, and then build towards it because it is quite a ask to invite people.
This text is essential in academic and historical contexts, as well as thinking about cinema and encouraging people to look for experimental films, films by women and the history of feminist film.
Laura Mulvey, professor of film studies at Birkbeck University called the vote a sudden shake-up in an article for British Film Institute
She wrote, “Things will never the same.”
Since 1952, the poll has been conducted by Sight and Sound magazine of British Film Institute.
The film has been criticised in the past for not having enough diversity among the 100 best films selected by experts.
Jeanne Dielman, a 2012 film directed by women, was one of two films that made it onto the list. The other film was Djibril Mambety’s Touki Bouki, which was directed by a black director.
The number of people who are consulted has increased over the years. 1.639 programmers, critics, curators, archivists, academics and programmers were asked to pick their top ten films this year.
Vertigo was last year’s winner and Citizen Kane took third.