Saute ma ville & Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1968-1975)

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), Jeanne’s sex work is part of the routine she performs every day by rote and is uneventful. Jeanne performs every task according to a strict routine, from peeling potatoes to lighting the oven and replacing the matchbox, while the younger woman in Saute ma ville works her way up her entire shin with shoe polish while shining her shoes. The interior space is a stage for the women’s domestic rituals—the difference between their approaches is underscored by the rhythm of the tasks and gestures. While Saute ma ville’s singularity stems from the frenetic and absurd tendencies of the main character, her final act of destruction seems oddly deliberate. On the other hand, it is the movement away from order in Jeanne Dielman that, suddenly and surprisingly, leads to death. The kitchen becomes a place of both order and chaos. Deviations from perfection or even logic culminate in destruction. Akerman’s use of real time in tandem with the portrayal of dull and predictable routines give the viewer an almost frustratingly real sense of the unarticulated tragedy of estrangement, loneliness and disconnection. “Jeanne Dielman is as influential and as important for generations of young filmmakers as Welles’s and Godard’s first films have been. . .  It is no overstatement to say that she made one of the most original and audacious films in the history of cinema.”—Richard Brody, The New Yorker. In French with English subtitles.

Genres: Drama

Other Films by Chantal Akerman


Errant Soul: From East to West and In Between

Errant Soul presents two approaches to Chantal Akerman’s films, one stemming from her Jewish identity and the other from the notion of hybridity and sense of place in her work. Marat Grinberg considers the questions of Jewishness and Holocaust representation in Akerman’s films, concentrating on two documentaries, D’est (1993) and La-bas (2006) and her fiction film, Tomorrow


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

Lettre d'un cinéaste- Chantal Akerman

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?

Letters Home

Letters Home

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


D’Est (From the East)

D’Est is Chantal Akerman’s first documentary film shot on trips taken as the Soviet system was about to collapse, and echoes her legendary Jeanne Dielmann in its minimalist approach and long, uninterrupted sequence shots. Akerman has said she went ‘while there was still time’—what kind of time, nor whose time, nor if there is any elsewhere,