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The Religious Affiliation of the
25 Most Influential Film Directors
of all time

Related pages:
    - Religious Affiliation of the Directors of AFI's 100 Greatest American Movies
    - Religious Affiliation of Winners of the Academy Award for Best Director
    - Religious Affiliation of the 100 Most Influential People in Movie History
    - Religious Affiliation of AFI's 50 Greatest Actors and Actresses

MovieMaker magazine (issue #47, Summer 2002; URL: http://www.moviemaker.com/issues/47/25.html), published a list of what its "blue-chip panel" considered the "25 most influential directors of all time." The list, along with a brief description of each director and his influence, was published in an article titled "Under the Influence," written up by Jennifer M. Wood. Obviously any such list is subjective, but this appears to be one that has been well-considered. One useful aspect of this list relative to some of the AFI-based lists is that this one is international in scope, and not restricted to directors of American films.

The MovieMaker article notes:

As time passes, new models inevitably emerge. In art, politics and history, each generation finds its own heroes. In the motion picture industry, though, is that really the case? The innovators who shaped the art form are the ones still asserting the most influence on moviemakers today. Or so says a stellar assembly of directors, writers, actors, critics and others we polled with this question: Who are the 25 most influential directors of all time?

The question is an important one. Influence is defined as that intangible power which can affect a person, thing or course of events. Many believe that motion pictures, more than any other art form in the past century, have had a profound influence on modern life. If one also accepts the generally held premise that directors, more than any other creative force in the film industry, are responsible for steering and shaping motion pictures, then perhaps film directors as a group have had a vastly underestimated effect on the way society thinks and behaves.

But who has had the most influence on other directors, as well as the public? In the past 100 years, which directors have made an indelible impact on our lives, and on the face of the movie industry? In what ways have these directors helped to define cinema as we know and see it today? With the help of some of our most celebrated moviemakers and industry professionals, we have counted down the directors who made the most difference--and continue to do so today.

MovieMaker Magazine's
Top 25 Most Influential Film Directors of all Time
RankNameReligious Background/
1Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)Catholic
2D.W. Griffith (1875-1948)Methodist
3Orson Welles (1915-1985)Protestant Christian
4Jean-Luc Godard (1930-)Calvinist/Huguenot (lapsed);
devout Maoist
5John Ford (1894-1973)Catholic
6Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999)Jewish
7Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948)Russian Orthodox; Marxist; Freudian
8Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)Anglican; agnostic
9Federico Fellini (1920-1993)Catholic; astrology; Jungian
10Steven Spielberg (1946-)Judaism
11Martin Scorsese (1942-)Catholic (lapsed former seminarian)
12Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998)Buddhist-Shinto culture
13Ingmar Bergman (1918-)Lutheran; agnostic
14John Cassavetes (1929-1989)Greek Orthodox
15Billy Wilder (1906-2002)Jewish
16Jean Renoir (1894-1979)Catholic
17Francis Ford Coppola (1939-)Catholic (non-practicing)
18Howard Hawks (1896-1977)Christian Science
19Francois Truffaut (1932-1984)Catholic (nominal)
20Buster Keaton (1895-1996)Catholic (non-practicing)
21Fritz Lang (1890-1976)Jewish Catholic
22John Huston (1906-1987)Episcopalian (lapsed)
23Woody Allen (1935-)Jewish (raised Orthodox); agnostic
24Luis Bunuel (1900-1983)Catholic; atheist
25Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947)Jewish

The jury that selected these directors as the most influential filmmakers of all time consisted of the following individuals: Amy Adrion; Sherman Alexie; Allison Anders; John Badham; Alec Baldwin; Bill Banning; Michael Barker; Peter Baxter; Steven C. Beer; Bruce Campbell; Andrew Chang; Wes Craven; Joe Dante; Steve Hamilton; Piers Handling; Matt Henderson; Lloyd Kaufman; Jason Kliot; Barbara Kopple; Mika Kaurismaki; Michael Kutza; Jeffrey Levy-Hinte; J. Hoberman; Marcus Hu; Gale Ann Hurd; Serge Losique; Albert Maysles; Jim McKay; Errol Morris; Gary Morris; Jonathan Nossiter; Bill Pence; Ray Privett; Timothy Rhys; Emily Russo; Doug Sakmann; Paul Schrader; Alan Sereboff; Tim Squyres; David Sterritt; Rustin Thompson; Kenneth Turan; Christine Vachon; John Vanco; Phillip Williams; Irwin Winkler; Jennifer M. Wood; Terry Zwigoff.

MovieMaker Magazine's listing of the panel that chose these directors, along with brief details about each panelist, their qualifications and credits, is here: http://www.moviemaker.com/issues/47/25jury.html.

Top 10 Most Influential Catholic Film Directors of All Time

(As ranked by MovieMaker Magazine, issue #47, Summer 2002)

1. Alfred Hitchcock
2. John Ford
3. Federico Fellini
4. Martin Scorsese
5. Jean Renoir
6. Francis Ford Coppola
7. Francois Truffaut
8. Buster Keaton
9. Fritz Lang
10. Luis Bunuel

Influential Catholic Film Directors, Honorable Mention: Robert Flaherty, Georges Melies, Roger Corman, Erich von Stroheim, Vittorio De Sica, Mack Sennett, Jean Cocteau

Top 10 Most Influential Jewish Film Directors of All Time

1. Sergei Eisenstein
2. Steven Spielberg
3. Stanley Kubrick
4. Billy Wilder
5. Fritz Lang
6. Woody Allen
7. Ernst Lubitsch
8. William Wyler
9. Michael Curtiz
10. Milos Forman

Influential Jewish Film Directors, Honorable Mention: Erich von Stroheim, Fred Zinnemann, George Cukor, Mike Nichols, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Roman Polanski, John Schlesinger, Lewis Milestone, Sydney Pollack, Sidney Lumet, John Frankenheimer, William Friedkin, Robert Zemeckis

NOTE: This list is under active development. Please send your suggestions about who should be ranked higher or lower, or who should be added to or removed from this list. Write to us at: webmaster@adherents.com. We would love to have additional feedback and suggestions for this list!

Top 10 Most Influential Latter-day Saint Film Directors of All Time

1. Don Bluth
2. Hal Ashby
3. Lino Brocka
4. James Cruze
5. Kieth Merrill
6. Colin Low
7. Richard Rich
8. Richard Dutcher
9. Wetzel O. Whitaker
10. Neil LaBute

Influential Latter-day Saint Film Directors, Honorable Mention: Bruce Neibaur, Jack Regas, Jared Hess, Roy Allen Smith, T.C. Christensen, Dale White, Lyman Dayton, Ragnar Lasse Henriksen, Chris Triffo, Kels Goodman, Craig L. Clyde, Lee B. Groberg, Rocco DeVilliers, Kurt Hale, Mitch Davis, Eric Hendershot, Blair Treu, John Lyde, Stephen Low, Christian Vuissa, Andrew Black, Russ Holt, Sterling Van Wagenen, Scott Swofford, Peter N. Johnson, Boyd Kirkland, Martin Andersen, John E. Moyer

NOTE: This list is under active development. Please send your suggestions about who should be ranked higher or lower, or who should be added to or removed from this list. Write to us at: webmaster@adherents.com. We would love to have additional feedback and suggestions for this list!

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Webpage created 21 June 2005. Last modified 14 May 2007.