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Là-bas (Over There)

Là-bas is one of Akerman’s most fragile and powerful works, in which she uses her own voice to personalize and narrate the visual images. For a month in Tel Aviv, Akerman points her lens outward through two large windows with blinds that filter the light of the exterior world. Apprehensive about a recent bombing, Akerman constructs a profound meditation on whether Israel is indeed the ‘promised land’ or merely a new form of exile. Winner of the Grand Prize at the Marseille International Documentary Festival and nominated for a French César, in Là-bas Akerman, who was heavily influenced by structural filmmakers like Michael Snow, “takes the aesthetic strategies of the minimalists and marries them to the humanist content that they suppressed. Fragile…and powerful.”—Amy Taubin, Film Comment. (French and English with English Subtitles)


Dis-Moi (Tell Me), France, 1980
dir. Chantal Akerman (45 mins., Documentary, Digital)

The first film, after over 10 years in filmmaking, in which Chantal Akerman—herself the daughter of an Auschwitz survivor—engages with the Holocaust through intimate discussions with three Jewish grandmothers, all of them survivors of the Shoah. Akerman conducts the interviews herself, bearing witness to stories told by these elderly women and how they have been cut off both from their pasts and themselves by the experience of such horror. Dis-Moi is “history as weft. The lineal facts may provide the warp, but without the weft we are unlikely to feel, because we all know what it is to sit beside a mother and hear the family history.”—Adam Roberts, The Huffington Post. (French with English Subtitles) New English subtitles by A Nos Amours, London.

The program will be introduced by Sara Jaffe, a fiction writer living in Portland, OR. Her first novel, Dryland, was published by Tin House Books in September 2015. Her short fiction and criticism have appeared in publications including Fence, BOMB, NOON, Paul Revere’s Horse, matchbook and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She co-edited The Art of Touring (Yeti, 2009), an anthology of writing and visual art by musicians drawing on her experience as guitarist for post-punk band Erase Errata. She is also co-founding editor of New Herring Press, a publisher of prose chapbooks. As of Fall 2016, she will be Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Oregon.

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.