Fiona Jane Burgess is a film director specialising in music videos, commercials, documentaries, and fashion films. 

Below are Fiona’s selects and what she had to say:

Essential: Films

Paris, Texas (1984)

Directed by Wim Wenders

I’m drawn to stories that aren’t afraid to shy away from the uglier, more difficult aspects of human connection and relationships. It’s tender and bittersweet. A classic.

Deaf (1986)

Directed by Frederick Wiseman

I’ve always been fascinated by social institutions and they way they facilitate their practices, and so naturally I’m drawn to the subjects Wiseman chooses for his films: schools for the Deaf and Blind, Juvenile Court, Hospitals etc. The majority of his documentaries were made in the 70s and 80s and so they offer a particular kind of critique given the hindsight we now have.

Wiseman’s documentaries raise more questions than they answer, but I love the way his documentaries take a fly-on-the-wall approach and allow you to witness the culture of these social systems and observe the complexities around how they are governed. I very much doubt the same access would be granted to these institutions now.

Marriage Story (2019)

Directed by Noah Baumbach

A sensitive, funny and complex and portrait of a marriage ending whilst co-parenting. I think I went through every emotional state whilst watching this film, from laughter to discomfort to tears.

Essential: Music Videos

‘Born Free’ M.I.A. (2010)

Directed by Romain Gavras

I didn’t have MTV growing up, so I feel like I missed out on a lot of cultural music video references as a kid, but when I first saw this I was blown away by it. This exemplifies music as pure protest.

‘Oblivion’ Grimes (2012)

Directed by Emily Kai Bock

My connection with music videos is always first and foremost a connection with the music, and secondly a connection with either the artist performance and/or the conceptual and cinematic relationship to the track.

When I first saw this music video I fell in love with Grimes. The video captures her natural charisma and performance style in such a simple but powerful and evocative way. The track is also an instant hit, which helps of course.

‘Malamente (Cap.1: Augurio)’ Rosalía (2018)

Directed by CANADA

It’s hard to know which Rosalia music video to choose since they’re all such game changers. Rosalia is one of those artists who’s got it all.

Malamente was the first music video I saw of hers, and I love this video for it’s unapologetic defiance. It’s so great to see female musicians leading the way whilst emulating such fierce strength and rebellion through their visuals.

Essential: Campaigns

‘The Cog’ Honda (2003)

Directed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet

This was the first time I remember watching a commercial and it having a real impact on me. If I remember correctly, it was played after England lost in the Euro 96. I would have been 8 years old, and as a young girl who loved football, I didn’t want to see another car ad with a man driving a flashy car in the Swiss Alps shot on a drone, I wanted to see the beauty of precision as play. Pure genius.

‘Evolution’ Dove (2006)

Directed by Yael Staav & Tim Piper

The was the first time I remember thinking that ad’s could be genuinely powerful and make a real statement. I would have been a young teenager when this was first aired, and I remember feeling self conscious about my body and my appearance for the first time.

When I saw this it was a relief, albeit short-lived. It felt powerful to see advertising agencies and a well-known beauty brand inviting questions about the unachievable and damaging standards that the beauty industry projects onto us.

‘Viva La Vulva’ Libresse (2018)

Directed by Kim Gehrig

One of my favourite ads of all time. Who doesn’t want to see a singing vulva?