What makes a director great? From where do filmmakers get their inspiration? How do these directors balance their personal passions with their drive for financial success?
In the new documentary film Great Directors, Angela Ismailos explores these questions and more by filming in-depth interviews with her ten personal cinematic heroes, which include some of the most prolific and influential film directors living around the world such as Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lynch, Stephen Frears, Agnes Varda, Ken Loach, Liliana Cavani, Todd Haynes, Catherine Breillat, Richard Linklater, and John Sayles.
While the average person might recognize less than half of these names, this documentary illustrates the impact that these filmmakers have had on the history of cinema and reflects on some of their personal thoughts regarding the film industry such as the transition from independent productions to working for major studios.
This wide range of directors examines cinema as an international art form, exploring how filmmakers chose their material in relation to the region they are living in. For example, Stephen Frears and Ken Loach started out by making documentaries about political issues in the UK, while David Lynch made films inspired by the dark side of Los Angeles.
Director Angela Ismailos explores her own curiosity and fascination with cinema and does her best to translate these emotions to her audience through editing between interviews, clips, photographs, and a few shots of herself in different relevant locations.
The film jumps back and forth between the different directors with interviews supplemented by clips from the directors’ most accomplished films, as well as archived photographs illustrating their stories of working in the film business. While somewhat scattered, these classic clips help to hold the audience’s interest between interviews by recalling magnificent scenes from cinematic history.
This is the kind of film that will be appealing to cinephiles, artists, and other creative types, but is not likely to attract a wide audience. While there are some very intriguing and revealing ideas in the film, none of them really stand out as being essential to our understanding of cinema. That being said, Great Directors is competently executed to hold the interest of film enthusiasts and those with great appreciation for the arts.
Great Directors is not rated and has a running time of 86 minutes. It is currently playing at Landmark’s Ken Cinema in San Diego along with another excellent documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.