Histoires d’Amérique (Food, Family, and Philosophy)

Shot in New York, Akerman’s first English-language film Histoires d’Amerique conjures up an informal history of Jewish life over the past 100 years through a series of eyewitness accounts, re-created by a group of largely unknown actors. All are Jewish of the first and second generation and all have jokes, stories and anecdotal proof from real-life testimony that something that defines them has survived, despite loss, trauma and death. This may be the new world, but the horror of the old is never far from the surface. Akerman once said, “Instead of learning my family’s story directly from my parents, I had to turn to literature.” The film recalls Waiting for Godot, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s shtetl tales, Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose, and the badchen of the old country (the jesters hired to add vim to Ashkenazi weddings before Nazis put an end to that world). As Akerman has said, “When history becomes impossible to bear, there is only one thing to do: send yourself up and laugh.” Nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear award, Berlin International Film Festival, 1989.

Other Films by Chantal Akerman

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

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),

Rue Mallet-Stevens, Hôtel Monterey & Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher (1972-1989)

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

Lettre d’un cinéaste, Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman & Autour de “Jeanne Dielman”

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?

Letters Home

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

D’Est (From the East)

D’Est is Chantal Akerman’s first documentary film shot on trips taken as the Soviet system was about to collapse, and echoes her legendary Jeanne Dielmann in its minimalist approach and long, uninterrupted sequence shots. Akerman has said she went ‘while there was still time’—what kind of time, nor whose time, nor if there is any elsewhere,