Watch Great Directors, a Documentary That Explores the Minds of 10 Great Auteurs: David Lynch, Agnès Varda, Richard Linklater & More

When we first start watch­ing movies, often we decide what to watch by set­tling on a favorite genre, divi­sions first solid­i­fied by video-store shelves: action, com­e­dy, dra­ma, sci­ence fic­tion, and so on. When we’ve watched more movies, many of us move on to fol­low­ing the work of a par­tic­u­lar actor, which takes us across not just gen­res but eras as well. And prac­ti­cal­ly all cinephiles will remem­ber when it dawned on us that no fig­ure could bet­ter guide our view­ing than the direc­tor — about the same time we usu­al­ly learn the term auteur, which iden­ti­fies cer­tain direc­tors as the pri­ma­ry “authors” of their films. From that point on, we had only to mas­ter the knowl­edge of as many direc­tors’ fil­mo­gra­phies as pos­si­ble, then deter­mine those too whom we would pledge our alle­giance — thus forg­ing bonds with (or draw­ing bat­tle lines against) all oth­er film fans.

If the best movies come pri­mar­i­ly from the minds of their direc­tors, then there must be a great deal else of inter­est in those direc­to­r­i­al minds. Or so implic­it­ly argues Angela Ismai­los’ 2010 doc­u­men­tary Great Direc­tors, which con­sists of inter­views with ten auteurs of the late 20th and ear­ly 21st cen­tu­ry whose work has not only drawn crit­i­cal acclaim but also pro­voked the full range of audi­ence opin­ion, even inspir­ing some view­ers to ded­i­cate them­selves to cin­e­ma.

“I want­ed to cov­er the French cin­e­ma and I love the con­tro­ver­sial cin­e­ma of Cather­ine Breil­li­at and how she por­trays the emo­tion­al and phys­i­cal tra­vails of women in her cin­e­ma,” Ismai­los says of the pro­jec­t’s ori­gin in an inter­view with Film­mak­er mag­a­zine. Then came Agnès Var­da, and after her a line­up includ­ing Bernar­do Bertoluc­ci, Lil­iana Cavani, Todd Haynes, Richard Lin­klater, John Sayles, Ken Loach, and Stephen Frears. “The last direc­tor I added to the film was David Lynch. He was the most dif­fi­cult to get.”

Put togeth­er, these ten fil­mo­gra­phies — con­tain­ing pic­tures from Mate­wan to My Beau­ti­ful Laun­drette, The Last Emper­or to Vel­vet Gold­mine, Poor Cow to Eraser­head, Fat Girl to Slack­er — con­tain an impres­sive­ly wide range of cin­e­mat­ic sen­si­bil­i­ties. But what do the ten direc­tors, com­ing as they do from sev­er­al dif­fer­ent coun­tries and cul­tures, have in com­mon? “In their films they’re try­ing… to break moral stan­dards,” says Ismai­los. “They are not sur­ren­der­ing to pre­con­ceived notions of com­merce or audi­ence pop­u­lar­i­ty or pre­con­cep­tion of what cin­e­ma should be. I believe through the years they are con­stant­ly ask­ing their audi­ence to grow and face the uncer­tain­ties and unpre­dictabil­i­ty of adult life. This is the cin­e­ma I per­son­al­ly love.” She’s cer­tain­ly not the only one, and all the rest of us with an inter­est in films of that kind — and thus an inter­est in direc­tors of this kind — will cer­tain­ly be glad that she’s made Great Direc­tors free to view online.

Great Direc­tors will be added to our list of Free Doc­u­men­taries, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

via Wel­come to Twin Peaks

Relat­ed Con­tent:

“The Direc­tors Series” Presents Free Immer­sive Stud­ies of Stan­ley Kubrick, the Coen Broth­ers, David Finch­er, Paul Thomas Ander­son & Christo­pher Nolan

Great Film­mak­ers Offer Advice to Young Direc­tors: Taran­ti­no, Her­zog, Cop­po­la, Scors­ese, Ander­son, Felli­ni & More

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Rare 1965 Inter­view with The New York­er

Lis­ten to Eight Inter­views of Orson Welles by Film­mak­er Peter Bog­danovich (1969–1972)

5 Hours of Free Alfred Hitch­cock Inter­views: Dis­cov­er His The­o­ries of Film Edit­ing, Cre­at­ing Sus­pense & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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