Among the French New Wave filmmakers, François Truffaut with his humane films became dearest to me over the years. To my Carte blanche selection I still chose Jean-Luc Godard’s first feature film Breathless (1960), which I first saw as a teenage girl years later. It formed my first clear impressions of Paris where I moved later on. I was also impressed by both Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in their roles. Godard’s later films provided totally different intellectual stimuli with their formal elements and music.

In Stephen Frears’s production I have, for decades, been intrigued by the films reflecting the English class conflicts and distinctions. His documentary style and rich, diverse profiles usually avoid the stereotypes seen in the commercial film world. Frears’s works deliciously depict spontaneous life, but also offer a lot to think about – like My Beautiful Laundrette (1985).

The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968) by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet is a film about Johan Sebastian Bach through the eyes of his second wife. The film is rather abrupt and even harsh, but it describes Bach’s life as a tireless composer and father. As a student of composition, I saw this black and white film in the 1970s at a Finnish Film Archive screening at Savoy Theatre in Helsinki. I love Bach’s music and enjoy the film’s simple style of reporting the composer’s work and life. Music plays the biggest role, performed in a fine and profound manner. However, the film was no hit with the audience, at least back then, probably due to its ascetic overall appearance.

I was deeply touched by Ingmar Bergman’s Saraband (2003) when I first saw it. Among his many unforgettable films I consider this one a gem, which reveals in a new – more spontaneous and humane – way how controversial life and the human mind are. Saraband is Bergman’s testament: It describes different generations, their relationships and identities in a fantastic and profound manner, and familiar actors in familiar roles give their characters new understanding, sorrow, regret, but also tenderness.

Kaija Saariaho