Chantal Akerman
(Belgium)

Akerman has become a guiding light in making films about the real issues faced by women, employing an experimental, deeply personal approach to her subjects. A disciple of Godard (who first inspired the then-15-year-old Akerman with his Pierre le fou), Akerman attended Brussels' INSAS film school and the Universite Internationale du Paris. She demonstrated her devotion to Godard with her first amateur short subject, 1968's Saute Ma Ville (Blow up My Town), which three years after its completion was entered in the Oberhausen Festival.

Working on the fringes of show business in New York in the early '70s, Akerman became an enthusiastic participant in the avant garde film movement, putting her theories to good use in such European movie projects as Je Tu Il Elle (1974), Tout Une Nuit (1982), and Seven Women Seven Sins (1986). In 1975, Akerman made her best-known and one of her most influential films,* Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles*, a film that was barely shown in the U.S., but which generated considerable response in Europe. Filmed largely in real time, it was an over three-hour-long chronicle of mundane episodes from the daily life of a 40-year old woman who snaps when faced with intense emotion and commits a horrifying crime. This focus on activities and occurrences over traditional narrative and continuity is a typical feature of Akerman's films (the 1972 short Hotel Monterey consists entirely of shots of people walking in and out of a rundown New York hotel).

She is also known for utilizing experimental compositions of light and architectural design, with detached, non sequitur soundtracks to underscore the "action." In 1996, Akerman made perhaps her most mainstream film to date,* Un Divan a New York*. A romantic comedy about an American psychoanalyst and a Parisian dancer who agree to switch apartments, it starred William Hurt and Juliette Binoche.

Three years later, Akerman ventured to Jasper, Texas, where she made Sud, a documentary about the horrendous killing of James Byrd, Jr., an African-American man who was savagely murdered by three white men. The film was screened at that year's Cannes Film Festival.

Films
Filmography
No Home Movie
2015
Almayer's Folly
2011
À l'Est avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton
2009
Women from Antwerp in November
2008
Tombée de nuit sur Shanghai
2007
Down There
2006
Tomorrow, We move
2004
From The Other Side
2001
South
1999
A Couch In New York
1996
Night and Day
1991
Food, Family and Philosophy
1988
Golden Eighties
1986
All Night Long
1982
The Meetings of Anna
1978
News From Home
1977
Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
1976
Blow Up My Town
1968

DAFilms.com is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

Doc Alliance Members

Sign up to receive regular updates on our film program:

By signing up for the newsletter, I hereby consent to receiving commercial communications by electronic means and to all relevant personal data processing required for the purpose of sending the Doc-Air, z.s. newsletter. I hereby confirm that I have read and familiarized myself with the Principles of Personal Data Processing and that I consent to the text therein. I also hereby acknowledge the rights specified herein, including, without limitation, the right to submit objections against direct marketing techniques.