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 factual and psychic dissonance between the Plath the public knew from her writings and work, and the dutiful one her mother wished to capture. Akerman’s 1986 film Letters Home adapted theater director Françoise Merle’s rendition of the play, staged in Paris in 1984. Letters Home is therefore an object passed from a poet to her mother, from her mother to a woman playwright, then to a woman theatre director, and finally to Akerman, a woman filmmaker. Letters Home elaborates Akerman’s personal and perpetual concern with communication and exchange between mother and daughter seen also in her film News from Home (1977). The cast for Letters Home, like the Paris theatre production, are themselves a mother and niece: Delphine Seyrig (who features in Jeanne Dielman) and Coralie Seyrig.

Unfortunately, the 11/7/16 screening is cancelled due to a subtitle issue with the projection copy. We apologize for the inconvenience and will work to screen the film during the Spring 2017 season of our Akerman retrospective.

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

Le 15/8 & Dis-moi

These three early Chantal Akerman films (spanning the 1970s) bring together different structures by which Akerman finds her own voice—through listening to her mother, through a surrogate young woman, and through listening to the voices of three grandmothers she interviews. Domestic scenes that demand daily chores and food preparation identify the roles of these women;

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?

Lettre d’un cinéaste: Chantal Akerman

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?