Mira Nair is among the most versatile filmmakers in contemporary cinema, with projects ranging from deeply personal explorations of her native India (Salaam Bombay!, Monsoon Wedding)to sweeping literary adaptations (Vanity Fair, The Namesake). In the latest episode of Adventures in Moviegoing, now playing on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, the writer-director talks about the films that continue to spark her curiosity and stir her emotions, and a number of the favorites she mentions have made their way into a series she guest-curated for us. For Nair’s personal tour through the collection, check out her introductions to six titles that have shaped her love of the art form.
“Jane Campion’s work is like a shot in the arm for me almost every single time . . . I think of her as a big sister—someone who’s literally been there before me and who opens unexpected doors and gives me courage.”
“I love the brutality of it and the incredible bravery of the performances of Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgård. I love that [von Trier] chooses the unsafe and the risky, and he does it in a way that is not often conventional at all or what you’d expect.”
“8½ begs the question: is it possible to actually know so much about making a film and yet know so little about what’s being made? . . . 8½ never ceases to feed me. I can see it every time and think that it is actually a new thing . . .”
“I also share this . . . the insanity of the love for music, like I cannot breathe until I hear it . . . [Ray] never has huge budgets or resources and yet he makes it feel like it’s so grand.”
“Everything that Chris Maker has done has been like a lodestar for me because he constantly challenges you to see anew. He’s an extraordinary filmmaker.”
“I was, firstly, enormously struck by the seeming amalgam of documentary and fiction . . . but how artfulness was never lost as a result of that amalgam . . . It doesn’t sink into didacticism because the intelligence of both sides is always at play.”