Top 10s

Zola Jesus’s Top 10

Zola Jesus’s Top 10

Zola Jesus, née Nika Roza Danilova, is an internationally celebrated crafter of haunting electronic pop. She has released five LPs and a series of EPs. Her Criterion selections reflect her love for science fiction and the surreal. Her newest album, Okovi, was released on September 8, 2017, through Sacred Bones.

  • Stalker

    1.
    Stalker

    Andrei Tarkovsky

    As someone who has seen every single Tarkovsky film, I can safely say this is his masterpiece. While I never tire of any of his work, Stalker is impossible to overwatch. The images and atmosphere are so intoxicating and enigmatic, it feels like entering a dream.

  • Pitfall

    2.
    Pitfall

    Hiroshi Teshigahara

    The Teshigahara box set is so invaluable to my collection. Those three films have taught me so much about the power of collaboration. In tandem with Kobo Abe, Toru Takemitsu, and Toshi Ichiyanagi, Teshigahara was able to manifest three very disparate yet cohesive worlds. I was most surprised by Pitfall, which I find to be more overlooked than the other two films (Woman in the Dunes and The Face of Another). The existential desolation of this film is all-consuming.

  • Winter Light

    3.
    Winter Light

    Ingmar Bergman

    I watched Winter Light for the first time when I was working my way through a depression. The pastor’s crisis of faith eerily reflected my own disillusionment with the world around me. It kind of felt like looking into a broken mirror.

  • Kuroneko

    4.
    Kuroneko

    Kaneto Shindo

    Not only is Kuroneko such a stunning-looking film, with a hypnagogic feel, the rape-revenge theme is strangely empowering. So many images from Kuroneko stick with me and have inserted themselves into my work.

  • Letter Never Sent

    5.
    Letter Never Sent

    Mikhail Kalatozov

    One of the most flawless films about the collision of man and nature. In man’s hunt to exploit the natural beauties of the wilderness, there is a price. And man will always have to pay.

  • The Ascent

    6.
    The Ascent

    Larisa Shepitko

    Pure Soviet existential gloom. The last scene had me sobbing. Not usually a fan of war movies, but The Ascent is so much more than that. Directed by a badass Ukrainian woman named Larisa Shepitko, and scored by the one and only Alfred Schnittke. Can’t go wrong.

  • Man Bites Dog

    7.
    Man Bites Dog

    Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel and Benoit Poelvoorde

    The reality TV–esque approach of this movie is so prescient. In recent times we have seen so many people use the media to glorify violence and murder. This movie feels like black comedy, but really it’s a deep commentary about the sensationalism of evil.

  • Eraserhead

    8.
    Eraserhead

    David Lynch

    Hands down the most important movie to have ever come into my life. This was the gateway to discovering a whole new world of art and cinema. I’ll never forget the first time I watched this movie as a teenager, on a Korean bootleg. It felt like watching something I wasn’t supposed to see. Imbued with a voyeuristic curiosity and nightmarish perversion. It changed me, and what I expect out of art.

  • Jigoku

    9.
    Jigoku

    Nobuo Nakagawa

    Such a surreal, bizarre, yet deeply emotional film. It’s hard to convey complex emotions within the framework of fantastical imagery, but Jigoku hits the sweet spot.

  • Kwaidan

    10.
    Kwaidan

    Masaki Kobayashi

    While writing my new record Okovi, I had Kwaidan on repeat in a dark room. The screen was my only source of light, and I felt it infected my writing insidiously.