Woman director tops poll of greatest films for first time in 70 years

A British Film Institute (BFI) poll for the greatest films of all time has been topped by a female director for the first time in 70 years.

Chantal Akerman’s 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles has claimed the top spot in the 2022 BFI Sight and Sound poll.

The poll is taken every 10 years, with Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo previously being voted number one in 2012.

Previously, Orson Welles’ 1941 classic Citizen Kane had dominated the list for 40 years.

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No other film made by a woman has ever even reached the top ten previously, with Akerman placing 35th in 2012.

Jeanne Dielman follows the story of a Belgian widow, observing her regimented schedule of cooking, cleaning and mothering over three days.

The woman also engages in sex work to help provide for herself and her son, but ultimately kills one of her clients.

Running at almost three-and-a-half hours, the film is considered by many to be a great work of feminist cinema.

Belgian director Akerman died in 2015, at the age 65.

Laura Mulvey, a professor of film studies at Birkbeck, University of London, called the film’s triumph in the poll a “sudden shake-up”.

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“Things will never be the same,” she wrote, in an article for the BFI.

The poll has been run by the institute’s Sight and Sound magazine each decade since 1952.

It has faced criticism in the past for a lack of diversity in the experts polled and the list of 100 best films chosen.