What's the best film ever? Balloon debate

Saturday 19 October, 5.30pm until 6.45pm, Camera Café Balloon Debate

What can claim to be the greatest film ever? Did the New Wave represent the true synthesis of mass populist form with experimental genius, or do Godard et al pale in comparison to the interstellar thrills of Star Wars? Are Bergman’s brooding The Seventh Seal and Welles’ Citizen Kane really worthy contenders or simply the same old worthy choices? Do the likes of Kurosawa, Fritz Lang and Eisenstein deserve broader appeal outside of serious film students? Could more contemporary hits such as The Dark Knight, Amelie or Lost In Translation supersede the likes of Gone With The Wind, La Dolce Vita and Brief Encounter? Was Norma Desmond right that the pictures have been getting smaller since the actors started talking, or are we still only just at the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

Tom Slater
deputy editor, spiked; coordinator, Down With Campus Censorship!

Richard Stubbs
educational consultant; former teacher; advocate, Greenwich Advocacy

Richard Swan
writer and academic

Kate Taylor
film programmer, She Shark Industries

Dr Maren Thom
researcher in film, Queen Mary University of London; education advisor

Professor Sir Simon Wessely
president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists; head of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London

David Bowden
associate fellow, Academy of Ideas; culture writer

Produced by
David Bowden associate fellow, Academy of Ideas; culture writer
Tom Slater deputy editor, spiked; coordinator, Down With Campus Censorship!
Recommended readings
The best films of all time: what you voted for

For the past few weeks, we have been publishing our critics' choice of the best 500 films of all time - and you've been voting for your favourites. The results are in from more than 43,000 voters.

Alice Vincent, Telegraph, 2 July 2013

The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time

846 critics, programmers, academics and distributors have voted – and the 50-year reign of Kane is over. Our critics’ poll has a new number one.

Ian Christie, BFI, 1 August 2012

The world's 40 best directors

The Hollywood blockbuster may be in crisis, but the art of the cinema is as healthy as ever. Our panel of critics picks out the film-makers who are leading the way


Doing it for charity?

"I have been doing the Battle of Ideas for a couple of years, but never before have I felt so heartened and so alive as the day ended. The spectacle of so many fascinating minds, none too proud to agree, none too modern to disagree, all at work on the most important questions of this rocky period: it's enough to make you believe there's hope for the species, yet."
Zoe Williams, columnist, Guardian; author, What Not to Expect When You're Expecting

follow the Academy of Ideas