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My Favorite Filmmakers                                                                                                               

This is a list of the filmmakers and videomakers who I think have reached greatness, having made one or more films whose form is stunningly powerful and aesthetically original. I hope anyone who comes upon it will use it in the generous spirit in which it's offered: I'm not so interested in criticizing the work of the filmmakers I've left off my list as in encouraging others to look at the work of the filmmakers included. Keep in mind that this list is personal and idiosyncratic.

I first started keeping a version of this list about 1973, when I was starting to teach film and had to come up with course proposals; my idea was that I wanted my courses to consist mostly of great films, films I loved rather than films that someone or other thought were historically important examples of this or that. It does reflect huge gaps in my own viewing: for example, there are many national cinemas that I know little of, or know not at all. On the other hand, I have seen films of a number of much-praised filmmakers not included on either list, including Woody Allen, Altman, Antonioni, Barney, Belson, Bergman, Bertolucci, Broughton, Chaplin, Francis Ford Coppola, De Palma, Fassbinder, Fellini, Huston, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Lumet, Lynch, Malick, Malle, Pasolini, Peckinpah, Polanski, Powell, Reggio, Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Spielberg, George Stevens, Tarantino, Tarkovsky, Truffaut, and Wenders.

For a long time I kept the existence of this list a secret except to a few friends who were active film viewers and shared some of my tastes and who I thought might find it useful. I think I was a bit paranoid about being known as an unrepentant canon-former. As well, for a critic who is on friendly terms with some of the filmmakers both on this first list and the "B" list that follows as well as with others who appear on neither list (and whose work in many cases I like), I worried about causing hurt feelings. Another worry was that I might cause my tastes to ossify by going public. But I continue to revise both lists, adding and deleting as my evaluations change over the course of new viewings. As someone who made great use in my teens of Film Culture 28, Andrew Sarris's "American Directors" issue (later expanded into his book, The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, though I prefer the original Film Culture version), which catalogued and classified mostly Hollywood directors and was used by many as an early viewing guide (and informally called "The Bible"), I thought that if my own lists were of use to a few others, especially as encouragements to seek out the work of certain filmmakers, then it would be worth posting them.

My ten favorite filmmakers can be inferred from a list of my ten favorite films of all time that I provided to Senses of Cinema. I have also updated this list. These filmmakers' names are also available as a list rather than the table below. Fred Camper

Robert Aldrich Kenneth Anger Tex Avery
Bruce Baillie Budd Boetticher Frank Borzage
Stan Brakhage Robert Breer Robert Bresson
Kyle Canterbury Claude Chabrol Jack Chambers
Chen Kaige Robert Clampett Larry Cohen
Bruce Conner Joseph Cornell George Cukor
Gail Currey Andre de Toth Alexander Dovzhenko
Carl Dreyer Robert Edelstein Blake Edwards
Sergei Eisenstein Jean Epstein Louis Feuillade
Robert Flaherty John Ford Hollis Frampton
Georges Franju Samuel Fuller Ernie Gehr
D. W. Griffith Marcel Hanoun Howard Hawks
Monte Hellman Jerome Hill Alfred Hitchcock
Hou Hsiao-hsien Joris Ivens Ken Jacobs
Chuck Jones Larry Jordan Buster Keaton
Ernie Kovacs Peter Kubelka George Landow [a.k.a. Owen Land]
Fritz Lang Jerry Lewis Joseph H. Lewis
Arthur Lipsett Louis Lumière Leo McCarey
Christopher Maclaine Joseph L. Mankiewicz Anthony Mann
Michael Mann Chris Marker Gregory J. Markopoulos
Jonas Mekas Georges Méliès Vincente Minnelli
Kenji Mizoguchi Robert Mulligan F. W. Murnau
Mikio Naruse Manoel de Oliveira Pat O'Neill
Max Ophuls Gerd Oswald Sidney Peterson
Abraham Polonsky Otto Preminger Yvonne Rainer
Nicholas Ray Ron Rice Leni Riefenstahl
Jacques Rivette Roberto Rossellini Jean Rouch
Hiroshi Shimizu Douglas Sirk Harry Smith
Jack Smith Michael Snow Alexander Sokurov
Warren Sonbert John M. Stahl Straub/Huillet
Bela Tarr Frank Tashlin Jacques Tati
Johnnie To Jacques Tourneur Luis Trenker
Edgar G. Ulmer King Vidor Jean Vigo
Josef von Sternberg Erich von Stroheim Raoul Walsh
Andy Warhol Joyce Wieland Orson Welles
Chris Welsby Paul Wendkos Edward Yang

The list below is my "B" list: filmmakers who have made films I have loved, but which for one reason or another (including perhaps my own myopia) I either have some doubts about, if only that even though while liking them a great deal still I find their best work isn't quite up to the best work of the filmmakers on the "A" list. Since I'm posting only two categories here, keep in mind that it might not take much in the way of a reevaluation to move a filmmaker from one category to the other. I keep both lists updated.

There are a number of reasons a filmmaker might be on this list, such as (a) I have seen most of the films, but grew disenchanted with them somewhat and have not seen many in a long time, so a reevaluation is needed (b) I haven't seen enough films to be sure (c) I'm still not sure what I think (d) The filmmaker has directed only one film (Charles Laughton), or directed only one film I really like (Edward D. Wood Jr.'s Glenn or Glenda (e) I'm sure what I think and don't think the filmmaker has yet reached "greatness." There are many other filmmakers who have made films I really like who for one reason or another (usually a more extreme reason of one of the above) appear on neither list. These filmmakers' names are also available as a list rather than the table below.

Shinji Aoyama David Brooks Luis Buñuel
Mario Camerini Bob Cowan Charles Dekeukeleire
Allan Dwan Su Friedrich Brian Frye
Abel Gance Janie Geiser Amos Gitai
Jean-Luc Godard Sara Gomez Susumu Hani
Curtis Harrington Marcel L'Herbier Werner Herzog
Hy Hirsh Oliver Hockenhull Jean-Isidore Isou
Miklós Jancsó Abbas Kiarostami Lewis Klahr
Lev Kuleshov Claude Lanzmann Charles Laughton
Richard Leacock Maurice Lemaître Alexander Mackendrick
Yasuzo Masumura Yasujiro Ozu Marcel Pagnol
Artavazd Peleshian Jean Renoir Arthur J. Ripley
Victor Seastrom John Smith Mauritz Stiller
Kidlat Tahimik Dziga Vertov Lars von Trier
Johan van der Keuken Spencer Williams Edward D. Wood, Jr.

© Copyright Fred Camper 2000-2012

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