This program presents a series of short films by Chantal Akerman from her earliest film Saute ma Ville (1968) to those critically acclaimed–as well as largely unscreened–films from 1971 through 1997. The program brings together autobiographical explorations of Akerman’s sexuality and life as a filmmaker, such as Le Chambre (1972) and J’ai Faim, J’ai Froid (1984), along with Rue Mallet Stevens (1986), which introduces the music of cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton. In Ecrire Contre L’oubli (1991), Akerman engages with the plight of the tortured in El Salvador’s civil war and highlights the filmmaker’s budding engagement with different geographies and human conflicts, an interest which would continue from the early 1990s until her death in 2015. (French with English Subtitles)
In one of the most revealing interviews with Nicole Brenez for LOLA Journal—Chantal Akerman: The Pajama Interview (July 2011)—Akerman annotates nearly all of her films. For the short films in this program, Akerman says:
La Chambre (1972, 11 mins., silent, DCP)
I can breathe but stay in bed. It was done the day after I finished [Hotel] Monterey.
Lettre d’un Cineaste (1984, 9 mins., sound, digital)
A rose is a rose is a rose, but it’s not an apple.
La Paresse (Sloth, from Seven Women, Seven Sins) (1986, 14 mins., sound, digital)
Sonia [Wieder-Atherton] works, I stay in bed.
Ecrire Contre L’Oubli (1991, 4 mins., sound, BetaSP)
Catherine [Deneuve] recounts the death of Febe Elisabeth Velasquez. At the end, she leaves the shot, as if it has been too much.
Le Marteau (1986, 4 mins., sound, digital)
Four minutes long, a commission, the hammer flies. A film on an artist.
Family Business (1984, 18 mins., sound, digital)
Charlie Chaplin (that’s me) and Aurore [Clément].
Le Jour Ou (The Day When) (1997, 7 mins., sound, 35mm)
At its heart, an homage to Godard.
Saute Ma Ville (Blow Up My Town) (1968, 13 mins., sound, DCP)
The opposite of Jeanne Dielman. Charlie Chaplin, woman.
Note (July 28, 2016): we have been unable to secure two of the shorts listed above—J’ai Faim, J’ai Froid and Rue Mallet Stevens—for this screening, but will be screening them later during the remainder of the Akerman season, which runs September 2016 through May 2017.
Looking, Really Looking! is presented by the Northwest Film Center and Zena Zezza, a Portland-based contemporary art project, and is curated by Sandra Percival and Morgen Ruff. The project begins with four screenings this summer and resumes in September 2016, running through May 2017.