Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chantal Akerman!!!!!!

Chantal Akerman screening Tuesday March 10th @ 11:30 sharp. I would like to watch all 5 of her films as well as her interview that come along with the Belgium Cineart release I have acquired. We will watch one of her films on Tuesday night, any suggestions/opinions as to which one? If you can, bring a small donation to support the venue. all smiles- Kanako


  1. Which ones are the five films on that release?

  2. -Hotel Monterey
    -Je tu il elle
    -Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
    -News from home
    -Les rendez-vous d'Anna

    are the five on that dvd from earliest at top to latest at the bottom.

    My vote is for: "Je tu il elle"

    -Of the ones I haven't seen on here it sounds the most immediately engaging, plus it's the one right right before her most famous: "Jeanne Dielman" so it would be interesting to see what she how she was working right before that. Although, "Hotel Monterey" is the earliest if we wanted to watch them all in order and plus it's only 65 minutes long.

  3. I'm curious to see "News from Home" since I've read about it elsewhere... but I am interested to see them all and I will be happy with whatever we watch! I like the idea of watching them in the order they were made too.

  4. "News from Home" resonated for me in a few different ways. The film at first seems to have a somewhat dispassionate, matter-of-fact delivery in both the generally square, directly-faced framing of shots of buildings and streets, as well as Chantal Akerman's steady, monotone reading of her mother's letters to her. But rather than being an avoidance of emotion, the film actually creates the space in which emotion can no longer be avoided... the space that people usually try to fill up with escapism and distractions.

    Where I'm at in my life, I can relate both to Akerman and her mother in certain ways... Chantal as a young artist who apparently has rather suddenly moved very far away from home to create artwork. The steadiness and persistence of her shots of her new city seem serene, but the time spent soaking in every detail I think speaks of her excitement and fascination with her new home, as she is in a place where she takes the time to pay attention to the everyday details that many people eventually disregard in the grind of life. At the same time, almost all of the shots in the film emphasize distance and a significant degree of isolation... most are medium/long shots, and even when people are near the camera, they fall out of focus. Akerman's mother, aside from persistently describing the parents' health worries and the ongoing dramas of family relations, repeatedly urges her daughter to tell her what's really going on, how her life really is, if she's really happy. Her mother mentions at one point that one of Chantal's peers has become a photographer, and mentions that his parents are disappointed but have accepted the decision. I inferred that the mother is perhaps similarly perplexed by her daughter's involvement in film -- while accepting of it, maybe it's hard for her to fully understand and relate... and the most encouragement she offers is to say that one of Chantal's screenplays was well-written and that she hopes she is able to 'shake up' public opinion about social ills. Otherwise, the mother and father are clearly grappling with wanting her to come back (the father is even remodeling the entire top floor of the house to be a studio for her) but trying to accept that she has no intention of coming back any time soon.... At a younger stage of my life I could have related only to Akerman as the young artist striking out on her own, but now years later I can put myself into the parents' shoes a bit more and feel a bit of what it must be like to raise a child and then let them go off into the world doing something that is hard to relate to. Unable to really understand what exactly their child is really doing, all they can do is accept and hope for their happiness.

    The narration of the letters is not evenly spaced... sometimes minutes of silence go by, while other times three letters are read back-to-back. I wondered if this represented the amount of time in between receiving the letters? I found it interesting that Akerman chose to allow the environmental sound of the city completely overpower the narration of the letters.

    The composition of the shots gradually changes from more static shots towards the beginning to more shots in motion toward the end. After the entire film's mostly benign 'people-watching' observations of people at work and in transit, no doubt immersed in the same types of dramas and concerns the mother describes, the final shot is of the mythic view of New York City's skyline, gradually receding from the infinite hyperreal detail of the fascinating mundanity of everyday peoples' lives into a singular image or symbol (particularly of the immigrants' arrival) which conceals and distances the viewer from everything that's contained therein.

    Like some types of poetry, it might take a lot of patience to view this film but if you're in the right place to just be with it, it is really moving.

    p.s. for some reason I'm not really comfortable using either the filmmaker's first name (too familiar) or just her last name (a bit rude I think)... maybe I should do like the NY Times would do, Ms. Akerman.