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.