What films from the Criterion Closet inspire Sara Dosa as a filmmaker?
The heart-melting romance and fiery passion are stables in some of the greatest works in cinema. Whether or not we are drawn to these types of stories, filmmaker Sara Dosa can’t help but love the exploration of love triangles and death-defying explorations to capture ground-breaking footage of erupting volcanoes, which became their demise.
Fire of Love explores the lives of scientists and lovers Katia and Maurice Krafft who died in the 1991 Mount Unzen eruption. The film is crafted from archival footage of the couple and narrated by Dosa and Miranda July and has some of the most stunning footage of any film from 2022.
Fire of Love is Dosa’s fourth film as a director and has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The doc is deeply moving from the extremity of nature footage to the complicated love of a couple dedicated to their craft.
Dosa was invited to the Criterion Closet, a closet filled with important classic and contemporary films in cinema, to choose a selection of films that celebrate her taste and style as a filmmaker. During her picking, Dosa revealed that the movies that draw her in have a level of exhilaration and transcendence that move through all of them, which speaks to her desire to create films.
You can check out her picks below!
Sara Dosa’s Top 7 Movies From the Criterion Closet
La Jetée/Sans Soleil
Chris Marker’s two films are some of the most influential and radical sci-films ever made. While the two films are vastly different in their unique ways, they challenge the medium both visually and structurally. The two films tell a story of time travels through still images throughout the protagonist’s journey.
“It’s taught me so much about writing in film and about imagery and collage and themes of time and longing and loss and space,” Dosa said about Sans Soleil, which Dosa believes is her favorite film of all time.
Burden of Dreams
Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams is a documentary that captures German filmmaker Werner Herzog’s desperate attempt to complete Fitzcarraldo, the most ambitious and difficult film of his career. Herzog’s dedication to practical effects created one of the most extraordinary films ever made, and Blank’s documentary captures the intensity of the filmmaking process of cinema’s most fearless directors.
This beautifully poetic film from the Mexican Ethiopian filmmaker Jessica Beshirt is a documentary that takes an intimate look at Eithopia’s Oromo and Harari communities. Known for khat, a euphoria-inducing plant prized for its supposedly mystical properties, Beshirt blends intoxicating imagery into the film’s visual language to highlight the to-day life of individuals in this community that juxtapose the region’s political strife.
Jules and Jim
François Truffaut’s Jules and Jim is essential viewing for fans of the French New Wave and is honestly an essential viewing for any cinema lover. Known for cinema’s most captivating love triangle, which inspired Dosa’s love triangle in Fire of Love, the film follows the carefree days of Astrain author Jules (Oskar Werner) and Frenchman Jim (Heri Serre). Both men fall for Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), an impulsive and beautiful woman.
The scene of the three characters running across a bridge was a pivotal moment in cinema for Dosa. The exhilaration, energy, and heart in the scene made Dosa want to include a running scene in every film she makes. While she hasn’t had a running scene in any movie of hers, the passion to pay homage to Jules and Jim still burns.
Y tu mamá también
Alfonso Cuarón’s most significant film, Y tu mamá también, captures a love triangle between two boys rushing into adulthood and an older woman throughout the summer. Dosa was deeply inspired by this film in her career in several ways.
One of those ways in the film’s narration, which she and her team studied deeply for Fire of Love. The film’s narration calls attention to details that the camera isn’t focused on. “[The narration] said so much about the ecological view of this socio-political world that was spiraling around these hyper-immature main characters,” Dosa said about the film. Although Fire of Love’s narration style isn’t similar to Y tu mamá también, it is still deeply inspired by the nuances of the style.
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Miranda July’s romantic comedy-drama tells the story of the awkward attempt to start a romance between the two main characters. July captures the details that make new relationships in adulthood strange and uncomfortable, showing how past romances have left each character wounded in their own ways.
Dosa worked with July on the narration for Fire of Love after Dosa fell in love with July’s cinematic language to explore relationships in Me and You and Everyone We Know. “I feel like Miranda crafted such… a new cinematic language in a way for exploring relationships that pulled together like the intimate and the strange with the like utterly familiar all at once,” Dosa said.
The Complete Films of Agnés Varda
Known as Dosa’s “Grand High Priestess,” Agnés Varda is a force in cinema. The way she sees the world and tells stories was revolutionary in cinema, lending itself to the foundations of the French New Wave. The collection includes Varda by Agnès (2019), Les 3 boutons (2015), La Pointe Courte (1955), Ô saisons, ô châteaux (1958), Du côté de la côte (1958), Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), Les fiancés du pont Macdonald (1962), L’opéra-mouffe (1958), Les dites cariatides (1984), T'as de beaux escaliers, tu sais (1986), Daguerréotypes (1975), Le lion volatil (2003), Le bonheur (1965), Les créatures (1966), Elsa la Rose (1966), Uncle Yanco (1968), Black Panthers (1970), Lions Love (. . . and Lies) (1969), Mur Murs (1981), Documenteur (1981), One Sings, the Other Doesn't (1977), Réponse de femmes (1975), Plaisir d'amour en Iran (1977), Vagabond (1985), 7 p., cuis., s. de b. . . . (à saisir) (1985), Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988), Kung-Fu Master! (1988), Jacquot de Nantes (1991), The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993), The World of Jacques Demy (1995), One Hundred and One Nights (1995), The Gleaners and I (2000), The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later (2002), Faces Places, codirected with JR (2017), Salut les cubains (1964), Ulysse (1982), Ydessa, les ours et etc. . . . (2004) Agnès de ci de là Varda (2011), and The Beaches of Agnès (2008).
“I feel like she has such a singular voice that at once is constantly innovating and building upon new ways of filmmaking and seeing the world,” Dosa said about Varda.
Let us know what you think of Sara Dosa’s picks in the comments below!