Rue Mallet-Stevens, Hôtel Monterey & Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher (1972-1989)

  • Directed by Chantal Akerman
  • Belgium/France/United States, 84 mins., French

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 (1986) is an enigmatic film in which an ambiguous human drama takes place on an eponymous street where the modernist architect Robert Mallet-Stevens made a set of cubist houses; inside a woman is playing the cello. In Hôtel Monterey (1972), Akerman’s extended takes and tracking shots move through the empty corridors of the New York residential hotel of the same name, whose inhabitants are predominantly living on the fringe of society, elderly, and living alone. The film portrays a set of lines, colors, and perspectival illusions as the camera moves out from the lobby and ends with a panorama from the rooftop. While Hotel Monterrey creates an architectural study, likewise a psychic space, in Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher (1989), the camera fixes a still life of an interior space framing a musician whose form is accentuated by the draping lavender fabric beside her. Cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton plays Henri Dutilleux’s Trois Strophes, the ethereal, at times hesitant, but lyrical pieces he composed in tribute to the Swiss conductor Paul Sacher between the years 1972 and 1986. In French with English subtitles.

Genres: Documentary

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

Sud

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.