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World Filmmakers: A Critical List of Books (February 2013): Home

By Mark Emmons and Audra Bellmore



This bibliographic essay originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Choice (volume 50 | number 6).


The purpose of this bibliography of world filmmakers is to provide a record of critical scholarship for use by librarians, educators, scholars, and students of film and cultural history.  The monographs that make up this bibliography are critical works that analyze the influential filmmakers being written about over the last four decades, from the 1970s to the present.  This is the second of two essays; the first, published in the June 2012 issue of Choice, discussed American filmmakers.[1]   This essay covers filmmakers primarily associated with other countries of the world.

The list includes directors who spent the majority of their careers working outside the United States.  In order to be included, they had to attract enough critical attention to have at least three critical monographs written in English about them.  Each monograph was thoroughly vetted in a method described in “American Filmmakers: A Critical List of Books.”[2]

Because we limited our list to monographs written in English, foreign-language filmmakers are somewhat neglected, as they receive far more attention in the language of their home country.  Foreign-language filmmakers that do receive attention in English tend to have had their films shown in English-speaking countries, primarily during the time that foreign films were screened in art houses.  This era began in the United States in the 1950s, had its heyday in the 1960s, and began to fade in the 1970s.  Some prominent filmmakers who missed the cut because there was limited criticism in English include Theo Angelopoulos, Claude Chabrol, Werner Herzog, Louis Malle, and Carlos Saura.

In addition, the same patterns we found in the American list manifested themselves in the world list.  As in America, women have had fewer opportunities to make movies and so are less represented on the list.  In fact, the only woman on the world list is Oscar-winning Australian film director Jane Campion.  As in America, more recent filmmakers, such as Chantal Akerman and Hayao Miyazaki, have not yet received the extent of critical attention that has been given to more established filmmakers.  Pedro Almodóvar serves as one example of a filmmaker on the cusp of making the list, with several critical articles, two compilations of essays, various biographies, and two critical monographs written about him.

The same types of filmmakers attract critical attention around the world as they do in America.  We wrote in our first article:

Filmmakers who developed the language of film, who originated or were emblematic of a particular genre, who have a distinct voice or style, who lead colorful lives reflected in their films, or who speak for people on the margins of society dominate the list.[3]

In addition, filmmakers whose films embody their countries make up a significant portion of the list.  Only twelve countries are included, and they are represented by a mere twenty-four filmmakers.  Just six countries are represented by more than one filmmaker.  The list is dominated by European filmmakers, with the most represented countries being Italy (Michelangelo Antonioni, Bernardo Bertolucci, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Luchino Visconti), Great Britain (Peter Greenaway, Derek Jarman, Mike Leigh, and Nicolas Roeg), and France (Robert Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, and François Truffaut).  Two filmmakers are included for Australia (Jane Campion and Peter Weir), Japan (Akira Kurosawa and Kenji Mizoguchi), and Russia (Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky).  Represented by one filmmaker each are Denmark (Lars von Trier), Germany (Max Ophüls), India (Satyajit Ray), Poland (Krzysztof Kieślowski), Spain (Luis Buñuel), and Sweden (Ingmar Bergman).  The most studied world filmmakers in the English language, covered by at least five books each, are Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, and Akira Kurosawa.


[1] Audra Bellmore and Mark Emmons, “American Filmmakers: A Critical List of Books,” Choice 49 (June 2012): 1789-1797.

[2] Bellmore and Emmons, “American Filmmakers,” 1789.

[3] Bellmore and Emmons, “American Filmmakers,” 1789.

Contact the authors at the University of New Mexico: and