Chantal Akerman

"Akerman has moved from the avant-garde to art cinema, from feminist experiment to European auteur film... Akerman's cinema remains marginal, yet it should not be marginalised since its fundamental project is to challenge our preconceptions of what cinema can or should be." - Cathy Fowler (Encyclopedia of European Cinema, 1995)

Chantal Akerman

Director / Screenwriter / Actress / Producer
(1950-2015) Born June 6, Brussels, Belgium
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Countries: Belgium, France
Key Genres: Drama, Documentary, Urban Drama, Romance, Feminist Film, Urban Comedy, Short Film, Musical, Comedy, Erotic Drama, Culture & Society, Avant-garde/Experimental
Key Collaborators: Claire Atherton (Editor), Raymond Fromont (Cinematographer), Francine Sandberg (Editor), Aurore Clément (Leading Character Actress), Marilyn Watelet (Producer), Babette Mangolte (Cinematographer), Marc Herouet (Composer), Stanislas Merhar (Leading Actor), Delphine Seyrig (Leading Actress), Jean Gruault (Screenwriter), Pascal Bonitzer (Screenwriter), Martine Marignac (Producer)

"Arguably the most important European director of the 1970s and 1980s, Chantal Akerman has a spare visual style that is matched only by the uncompromising ferocity of her individual vision as a filmmaker. Her upbringing was anything but privileged and this hardscrabble beginning encouraged Akerman to have compassion for the disenfranchised, a theme that runs through all her work... Although Akerman's films seldom play outside the festival circuit, her dry, acerbic vision of human existence has proven deeply influential for a younger generation of feminist filmmakers." - Wheeler Winston Dixon (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
"At the age of fifteen Chantal Akerman saw Godard's Pierrot le fou and realized that filmmaking could be experimental and personal. She dropped in and out of film school and has since created short and feature films for viewers who appreciate the opportunity her works provide to think about sounds and images. Her films are often shot in real time, and in space that is part of the characters' identity." - Lillian Schiff (The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia, 1998)
"Belgian-born director who makes long, often tedious, but sometimes hypnotically watchable arthouse films in which the camera's concentration on scenes for a long period of time can turn the viewer's pleasure into discomfort, interest into boredom or disinterest into perception. A unique film-maker, she continues to alternately baffle and fascinate her audiences." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)
"Independent filmmaker noted for her minimalist narratives and static visual style... Her films, often dramatically vague and nearly plotless, typically seek to explore human emotion and character through unorthodox cinematic means. Although she is admired by serious critics, her films are barely accessible to general audiences." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"The Village Voice's film critic J. Hoberman once boldy described Chantal Akerman as "comparable in force and originality to Godard or Fassbinder... arguably the most important European director of her generation". Far more read about than viewed, Akerman's oeuvre comprises over forty films, more than half of them feature-length works of fiction or documentary... Restlessness, self-exposure and alienation are threaded as themes throughout Akerman's oeuvre, but any autobiographical elements are shrouded in fiction so that her films conceal as much as they expose." - Leslie Felperin (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"The essence of Chantal Akerman's minimalist style is a static camera, medium long shots, and monologues, as well as silences that get close to the heart of her alienated characters. The most characteristic film by Akerman is Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), which reveals the minutiae of three days (225 minutes of film time) in the life of a Belgian housewife and part-time prostitute (Delphine Seyrig)." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)
"The plotting in Akerman's films is minimal or nonexistent, and she is dedicated to the ellipses of conventional narrative cinema. In this way, she bravely avoids clichés, and the viewer is expected to approach her films with open eyes and mind. The excitement is within the characters, coming from the impossibility of situating oneself comfortably in the world. She often uses collage technique to insert the many autobiographical passages. Nevertheless, Akerman also investigates the hot-button themes like racism in the American South, illegal immigration, and terrorism in the Middle East.." - The European Graduate School Biography
"In my films I follow an opposite trajectory to that of the makers of political films. They have a skeleton, an idea and then they put on flesh: I have in the first place the flesh, the skeleton appears later." - Chantal Akerman
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
Recommended
News from Home (1976) , Portrait of a Young Girl at the End of the 1960s in Brussels [TV] (1994)
Worth a Look
Saute ma ville (1968), Je, tu, il, elle (1974), Les Rendez-vous d'Anna (1978), Toute une nuit (1982), Les Annees 80 (1983), Golden Eighties (1986), Nuit et jour (1991), D'est (1993) , Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman [TV] (1997), La Captive (2000) , From the Other Side (2002), State of the World (2007) [also directed by Ayisha Abraham, Pedro Costa, Vicente Ferraz, Wang Bing & Apichatpong Weerasethakul], Almayer's Folly (2011)
Approach with Caution
La Chambre (1972), Paris vu par... vingt ans après (1984) [also directed by Bernard Dubois, Philippe Garrel, Frederic Mitterrand, Vincent Nordon & Philippe Venault], Seven Women, Seven Sins (1986) [also directed by Maxi Cohen, Valie Export, Laurence Gavron, Bette Gordon, Ulrike Ottinger & Helke Sander], South (1999)
Not Recommended
A Couch in New York (1996)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Chantal Akerman / Favourite Films
Pickpocket (1959) Robert Bresson, Sunrise (1927) F.W. Murnau.
Source: Sodankylä Ikuisesti: Desert Island Films (2010)
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    Nuit et jour
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