Magazine article Filmmaker

Chantal Akerman

Magazine article Filmmaker

Chantal Akerman

Article excerpt

In early October, the film world lost a great, challenging voice when director Chantal Akerman passed away at 65. Forty years earlier the young Belgian had altered the course of film history with her second feature, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, a three-hour, 20-minute portrait of a middle-aged, widowed mother and sometime prostitute. Dielman's daily chores are captured with a fixed camera in near real time, offering both a historical critique of domestic routine - "women's work" - as well as the representational strategies of mainstream cinema. But Jeanne Dielman was only one of Akerman's remarkable films. Others include her sexually frank, minimalist debut, Je tu il elle; another masterpiece, News from Home, built around static shots of New York City and voiceover texts from letters written to Akerman by her mother; D'Est, a "documentary bordering on fiction" detailing Akerman's journey across the Eastern bloc into Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union; and The Captive, her austere, modern adaptation of the fifth volume of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. …

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