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.
Other Films by Chantal Akerman
Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman and Saute ma ville are both depictions of a woman’s work in the home, but portray two women who approach domestic tasks very differently. The mother, Jeanne Dielman, performs sex work for male clients daily for her and her son’s subsistence. Like her other activities (bathing, knitting, and shining her shoes), …
This program presents three Chantal Akerman films from 1972 to 1986, including one of her first feature films made in New York which foregrounds her long takes of interior spaces that frame human encounters and memory of their presence or absence. The films also introduce Akerman’s first collaborations with the cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton. Rue Mallet-Stevens …
These three early Chantal Akerman films (spanning the 1970s) bring together different structures by which Akerman finds her own voice—through listening to her mother, through a surrogate young woman, and through listening to the voices of three grandmothers she interviews. Domestic scenes that demand daily chores and food preparation identify the roles of these women; …
This program presents three films across three decades on artist/filmmaker Chantal Akerman, who directs two of the films in which she interrogates herself as subject alongside the nature and raison d’etre of cinema itself. In Lettre de Cineaste (1984), Akerman with Aurore Clément as a kind of stand-in or proxy asks “What is cinema for? …
CANCELLED—On 11 February 1963, Sylvia Plath, poet and author of The Bell Jar, thirty years old, married, with two children, killed herself. In 1975, Sylvia Plath’s mother, Aurelia Schober Plath, published Letters Home: Correspondence 1950-1963, an edited volume of her late daughter’s letters. In 1979, Rose Leiman Goldemberg wrote Letters Home, an off-Broadway hit which addressed the …