The best films of 2013: the votes
Explore all 111 voters’ submissions, including their top-five films lists and highlights.
Sukhdev Sandhu (Film critic)
- Name: Sukhdev Sandhu
- Job title: Film critic
- Country: USA/UK
- Here Be Dragons
- How We Used To Live
- From Gulf To Gulf To Gulf
- Your Day Is My Night
Highlights: Here Be Dragons: Mark Cousins is modern documentary’s version of German midfielder Thomas Muller – a raumdeuter (space investigator) who, in this probing, associative narrative of a journey to Albania, terraforms a zone somewhere between Jonas Mekas’s diary films and Thom Anderson’s critical cartographies. His is the most companionate form of cinephilia: he meditates on art and politics, dogs and innocence, both the idea and the present state of the Albanian archive. Most unusual of all, he does so with charm and brio rather than pontificial pomposity.
Your Day is My Night: New York’s Chinatown, a place as much spectral as real, flickers and flares into life in this singular hybrid of documentary, performance piece and cine-monologue. Seven working-class, immigrant residents of a shift-bed apartment play versions of themselves, recalling violent upheavals, long journeys and endless yearnings. Beautifully scored by Stephen Vitiello, marrying subtle comedy to its dominant mood of dreamy disorientation, and achieving a rare intimacy, it’s one of the most mysterious and magical evocations of the migrant city in many a year.
From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf: A superb year for hydropoetic cinema (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s concussive, immersive Leviathan that rips up the rulebook about what ethnographic films should look or feel like; Kiss The Water, Eric Steel’s loving portrait of fishing fly-maker Megan Boyd) was capped by Mumbai-based CAMP’s new film which would make for a terrific double bill with Allan Sekula and Noel Burch’s The Forgotten Space. Shot by and about a group of Indian sailors moving from the Gulf of Kutch through the Gulfs of Persia and Aden, it’s an extraordinary vision of the subaltern ocean, a work of drifting and boredom, of friendship and melodies, strafed by uncanny images of the desert castles of the United Arab Emirates. Modernity has really seemed so distended.
Taskafa: In this wonderfully resonant essay film, set in the streets of modern-day Istanbul and making telling use of John Berger reading from his novel King, Andrea Luka Zimmerman casts a compassionate eye on the city’s street dogs as a way of talking about loneliness, social connection, urban belonging. A work as profound as it is protesting.
How We Used to Live: A collaboration between Paul Kelly, the band Saint Etienne and writer Travis Elborough, this archive film of London from 1950-1980 is a waltz through the music of cinematic time.