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.
Other Films by Chantal Akerman
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 …
An in-depth, probing, and sensitive look at migration specifically centered around the deserts of Arizona and the Mexican states of Agua Prieta and Sonora, which Akerman approaches with a characteristically nuanced perspective.
Investigating the brutal hate crime murder of James Byrd Jr., in Jasper, Texas, 1998, Akerman paints a typically meditative and ingeniously powerful portrait of a specifically American brand of racial hatred.
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 …
Akerman transports Joseph Conrad’s 1895 debut novel to the de-colonizing 1950s, in which a Dutch trader doggedly seeks elusive treasure and the jungles of Cambodia come alive.