Screen editor Matt Mueller introduces our 40th anniversary edition.

In 1975, over lunch in a fashionable London restaurant, UK producer John Woolf offered to sell what was then known as CinemaTV Today — a trade publication he had acquired in a property deal and only half-heartedly continued to own — to Peter King for the princely sum of £50,000.

And thus, a deal was struck that would see Screen International emerge from the ashes of that publication, and swiftly establish itself — under owner-publisher King and editor Peter Noble — as a leading voice in the international film industry.

 How do you celebrate 40 years of publishing? Well, you begin by surrounding yourself with volume upon volume of red, hardbacked books that contain four decades’ worth of Screen International and diving into the annals of this proud publication.

 That is where we started and what a fascinating experience it turned out to be, with the intricacies of the international film industry emerging from a historical haze in extraordinary detail, as Screen International charted everything from the rise and fall of Cannon Films to the ebbs and flows of 40 years of UK film. The features in this special anniversary edition spring from the fascinating details discovered in those dusty old copies.

 To mark Screen International’s 40th birthday, we have also compiled a list of the 40 most influential films released from the magazine’s birth in 1975 to the present day.

As you can imagine, there are easier tasks to set yourself than scouring four decades of film and choosing 40 titles that have most shaped the current industry landscape. There was much heated debate, but after canvassing opinion from contributors, industry colleagues and subscribers, we have settled on the shortlist that makes up the backbone of our 40th celebration.

Our 40 At Forty list is less about brilliance — although most films on the list are indeed brilliant — and more about impact. Spanning myriad territories and genres, these films have been chosen for their lasting legacy on the international business of film. Whether it has broadened the creative horizons on which films are conceived and made, opened up the cinema of a nation to the rest of the world, or evolved the way in which films are financed, produced, marketed or consumed, each film on this list is a game changer.

 And because it’s important to keep one eye on the future, we also asked a number of illustrious festival directors to name the 2015 titles they believe will still be talked about in 40 years’ time.

 For now, though, please help us blow out our candles and join us in celebrating 40 years of being the voice of the international film industry.

Matt Mueller is editor of Screen International