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IONCINEPHILE of the Month: Travis Gutiérrez Senger’s Top Ten Films of All Time List

Have you ever wondered what are the films that inspire the next generation of visionary filmmakers? As part of our monthly IONCINEPHILE profile, we ask the filmmaker (in this case, American indie filmmaker Travis Gutiérrez Senger) to identify their all time top ten favorite films. Senger’s Desert Cathedral receives its VOD release this September 27th and just prior to that, there’ll be special theatrical events in NY, LA, and Seattle. In no particular order, here is his top ten as of September 2016.

2001: A Space Odyssey– Stanley Kubrick (1968)
The colors, the design, the photography and the trippy handling of the material and the marketing materials make this one of my top 3 films of all time. Kubrick and Clarke’s imagination are pushed to the limits in this film, which I think is Kubrick’s most human film and his masterpiece.

8 1/2 – Federico Fellini (1963)
Saw this the other night on 35MM and it is still my favorite film; it’s structurally so strong, has an incredible sense of movement both with camera and the players and penetration into the male director’s psyche is confessional, sad and hilarious. The design is as cool today as it was then.


Everything is firing on all four cylinders here–the acting, photography, direction, music and design. The script is one of the best that has been written in many years with incredible comic wit, timing and a surprising degree of emotional depth. Like 8 1/2 we are taken on a journey through the psyche of the main character; this along with the contemporary and timeless themes give it repeat viewing pleasure.

 – Stanley Kubrick (1999)
One of Kubrick’s best. a psycho sexual odyssey that is
probably more relevant today as the film explores the underworld of the uber rich in NYC. The master’s compositions, pacing and music asserts him as one of the true greats.

Saw this in High School and the film along with a wired PT Anderson on the Magnolia Diary made me want to be a filmmaker. The language of the film and lack of a single protagonist make it a Hollywood rarity and gem.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Milos Forman (1975)
The naturalistic photography, extraordinary acting and sublime portrait of mental illness make this one of the best pictures ever made. Nicholson is galvanic and at his best here. Forman may be the greatest actor’s directors of all time.

Paris, Texas – Wim Wenders (1983)
Definitely an inspiration for Desert Cathedral. The man lost in the desert and a re-imagining of the west for the 20th century really hit me. The emotional layers to the film that peel back so subtly are rewarding and not too sentimental.


Style Wars – Tony Silver (1983)

“The best documentary film ever made about Hip-Hop, captured on beautiful 16mm in both color and B/W, the film has an incredible plot and the subjects are young, ambitious and fighting against the gritty streets of the Bronx, trying to find a way to express themselves.”

There Will Be Blood – Paul Thomas Anderson (2007)
From the opening score (Greenwood is a murderer here) and Plainview crawling out of a hole like a snake to the ending where Plainview beats the preacher to death, the film took my breath away. It’s one of the best psychological journeys through the heart of American greed and capitalism where oil and religion create a very strange brew.

In Vanda’s Room – Pedro Costa (2000)
I watched this after the first part of the Letters to Fontainhas, Ossos, and there is a point where you realize the non-actors from the first film are now the main focus and we’ve jumped from 35MM to SD. The impression was unforgettable. The two sisters smoking heroin in the favelas and Costa’s Vermeer like handling burnt these images into my brain.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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