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? Who is it for? If the Mosaic prohibition on making graven images includes film images, then where does that leave a Jewish filmmaker?” Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman (1996) turns a commission for Cinéma, de notre temps (a long-running French television program about filmmakers) into a study of herself in which she discovers a feminized sensibility and another way of seeing the world and self through a monologue accompanied by a montage of clips of her films including Hotel Monterrey and Histoires d’Amerique. The final film of the program is Sami Frey’s documentary video Autour de Jeanne Dielman (1975), shot on the set of her most famous work, Jeanne Dielman, and edited by Akerman. In questioning Akerman on how she wants her to comb her hair, a frustrated Delphine Seyrig tells Akerman “when you explain something, you find you don’t want to explain it,” perfectly encapsulating the notoriously unclassifiable filmmaker.
Update 9/22: due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to present Chantal Akerman Par Chantal Akerman at this screening as previously planned. However, we will be screening the film at a later date, likely in Spring 2017 as part of the ongoing Akerman retrospective. We apologize for any inconvenience.