Skip to content

Chantal Akerman Short Films 1968-1997

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

Nuit et jour (Night and Day)

Julie and Jack, recently arrived in Paris, are a young couple from the provinces who spend their days making love and their nights apart, while Jack drives a taxi and Julie walks the streets, waiting for him to come home.  Their vague aspirations take a backseat to their constant passion. “Music” resonates throughout—Julie sings wordlessly

From the Other Side

On the Mexico-US border, the twin towns of Agua Prieta, Sonora and Douglas, Arizona—far from the population centers of Juarez/El Paso or Tijuana/San Diego—are home to both hopeful, persistent immigrants and resilient, spiteful permanent residents. As with most of Akerman’s documentary work, she brings a keen, searching eye to this most barren of places, in


The work of James Baldwin and William Faulkner long influenced Chantal Akerman’s work and life, and she had long planned to shoot a film about the American south — and finally, an opportunity came just before the new millennium. But in Jasper, Texas, mid-1998, James Byrd, Jr., an African-American man, was dragged behind a vehicle

Toute une nuit

One summer night in Brussels, sweltering heat stifles the community, which draws people out of their comfort zone and into despair. Akerman explores a series of on-the-brink relationships—break-ups, reconciliations—in the context of this hottest night of the year, where defenses are built, but at the same time, are down. Nearly wordless yet filled with subtle

Almayer’s Folly

With Almayer’s Folly, Akerman tackles the terrible legacy of the European colonial project in Southeast Asia head-on through an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s late-19th-century novel of the same name. Crucially, Akerman makes a handful of changes, transposing Conrad’s Cambodia for Malaysia and Conrad’s 19th Century for the 1950s, the tail end of direct colonial control.