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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), Jeanne’s sex work is part of the routine she performs every day by rote and is uneventful. Jeanne performs every task according to a strict routine, from peeling potatoes to lighting the oven and replacing the matchbox, while the younger woman in Saute ma ville works her way up her entire shin with shoe polish while shining her shoes. The interior space is a stage for the women’s domestic rituals—the difference between their approaches is underscored by the rhythm of the tasks and gestures. While Saute ma ville’s singularity stems from the frenetic and absurd tendencies of the main character, her final act of destruction seems oddly deliberate. On the other hand, it is the movement away from order in Jeanne Dielman that, suddenly and surprisingly, leads to death. The kitchen becomes a place of both order and chaos. Deviations from perfection or even logic culminate in destruction. Akerman’s use of real time in tandem with the portrayal of dull and predictable routines give the viewer an almost frustratingly real sense of the unarticulated tragedy of estrangement, loneliness and disconnection. “Jeanne Dielman is as influential and as important for generations of young filmmakers as Welles’s and Godard’s first films have been. . .  It is no overstatement to say that she made one of the most original and audacious films in the history of cinema.”—Richard Brody, The New Yorker. In French with English subtitles.

In conjunction with the screening of Jeanne Dielman, on Sunday, November 20, 2-4pm, Bérénice Reynaud will deliver a lecture/dialogue about Akerman’s work at the PNCA Mediatheque, 511 NW Broadway. Please see for further details.

Update 11/15: Saute Ma Ville will not be screened alongside Jeanne Dielman at this event, despite prior listings indicating the pair.

Genres: Drama

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.