Chantal Akerman

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Chantal Akerman
Born Chantal Anne Akerman
(1950-06-06) 6 June 1950 (age 65)
Brussels, Belgium
Nationality Belgian
Occupation Artist, film director, professor, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, film editor
Years active 1968–present
Notable work Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Chantal Anne Akerman (French: [akɛʁman]; born 6 June 1950) is a Belgian film director, artist, and professor of film at the City College of New York.[1] Her best-known film is Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975). According to film scholar Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Akerman's influence on feminist filmmaking and avant-garde cinema has been substantial.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Akerman was born to an observant Jewish family in Brussels, Belgium. Her grandparents and her mother were sent to Auschwitz; only her mother came back. This is a very important factor in her personal experience. Her mother's anxiety is a recurrent theme in her filmography. Akerman claims that, at the age of 15, after viewing Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou (1965), she decided, that same night, to make movies. At 18, she entered the Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle et des Techniques de Diffusion, a Belgian film school. During her first term, however, Akerman chose to leave and make Saute ma ville, a thirteen-minute black-and-white picture in 35mm. She partially subsidized Saute ma ville by selling shares on the Antwerp diamond exchange, procuring its remaining budget through her clerical work.[3][dubious ] In 1971, Saute ma ville premiered at the Oberhausen short-film festival.[4] That year, she moved to New York, where she remained until 1972.


Chantal Akerman has been a leading figure in European experimental cinema and feminist film since the early seventies.[5]

Early influences[edit]

At Anthology Film Archives in New York, Akerman was impressed with the work of Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Michael Snow, Yvonne Rainer, and Andy Warhol. She states that Snow's La Région Centrale introduced her to the relations among film, time and energy.

Critical recognition[edit]

Her 1972 feature Hotel Monterey and shorts La Chambre 1 and La Chambre 2 reveal the influence of structural filmmaking through these films' usage of long takes. These protracted shots serve to oscillate images between abstraction and figuration. Akerman's films from this period also signify the start of her collaboration with cinematographer Babette Mangolte, the director of photography on La chambre (1972), Hôtel Monterey (1972), Hanging Out Yonkers(1973), Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) and News from Home (1977). In 1973, Akerman returned to Belgium and in 1974 received critical recognition for her feature I, you, he, she.

In 1975, Ackerman released her most notable film, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Widely considered one of the great feminist films, the film makes a hypnotic, real-time study of a middle-aged widow’s stifling routine of domestic chores and prostitution. Upon the film's release, The New York Times called Jeanne Dielman the "first masterpiece of the feminine in the history of the cinema". Chantal Akerman scholar Ivone Margulies says the picture is a filmic paradigm for uniting feminism and anti-illusionism.[3] The film was named the 19th-greatest film of the 20th century by J. Hoberman of the Village Voice.[6]

Ackerman directed two of the four Belgian films listed within TSPDT's 1000 greatest films [7] - a list used within the Wikipedia Film Project to identify works of importance. The listed films are Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles and D'est.[7]

Recent work[edit]

In 1991, she was a member of the jury at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival.[8] In 2011, she joined the full-time faculty of the MFA Program in Media Arts Production at the City College of New York.

Identity aesthetics[edit]

According to the book Images in the Dark by Raymond Murray, Akerman refused to have her work ghettoized and denied the New York Gay Film Festival the right to screen I, you, he, she. "I will never permit a film of mine to be shown in a gay film festival."[citation needed]


Important solo exhibitions of Akerman's work have been held at the Museum for Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Belgium (2012), MIT, Cambridge Massachusetts (2008), the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2006); Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ (2006); and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2003). Akerman has participated in Documenta XI (2002) and the Venice Biennale (2001). In 2011 a film retrospective of Akerman’s work was shown at the Vienna Film Festival.[5]


Year Title Length Notes English
1968 Saute ma ville 13 minutes Blow up My Town
1971 L'enfant aimé ou Je joue à être une femme mariée 35 minutes The Beloved Child, or I Play at Being a Married Woman
1972 Hotel Monterey 65 minutes
1972 La Chambre 1 11 minutes The Room, 1
1972 La Chambre 2 11 minutes The Room, 2
1973 Le 15/8 42 minutes co-directed by Samy Szlingerbaum
1973 Hanging Out Yonkers 90 minutes unfinished
1975 Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles 201 minutes
1976 News from Home 85 minutes
1976 I, you, he, she 90 minutes
1978 Les Rendez-vous d'Anna (fr) 127 minutes Meetings with Anna
1980 Dis-moi 127 minutes Tell Me
1982 Toute une nuit 89 minutes All Night Long
1983 Les Années 80 82 minutes The Eighties
1983 Un jour Pina à demandé 57 minutes One Day Pina Asked Me
1983 L'homme à la valise 60 minutes The Man With the Suitcase
1984 J'ai faim, j'ai froid 12 minutes segment for Paris vu par, 20 ans après I'm Hungry, I'm Cold
1984 New York, New York bis 8 minutes lost
1984 Lettre d'un cinéaste 8 minutes Letter from a Filmmaker
1986 Golden Eighties 96 minutes Window Shopping
1986 La paresse 14 minutes segment for Seven Women, Seven Sins Sloth
1986 Le marteau 4 minutes The Hammer
1986 Letters Home 104 minutes
1986 Mallet-Stevens 7 minutes
1989 Histoires d'Amérique 92 minutes Entered into the 39th Berlin International Film Festival[9] Food, Family, and Philosophy
1989 Les trois dernières sonates de Franz Schubert 49 minutes Franz Schubert's Last Three Sonatas
1989 Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher 12 minutes Three Stanzas on the Name Sacher
1991 Nuit et jour 90 minutes Night and Day
1992 Le déménagement 42 minutes Moving In
1992 Contre l'oubli 110 minutes Akerman directed one short segment Against Oblivion
1993 D'Est 107 minutes From the East
1993 Portrait d'une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles 60 minutes Portrait of a Young Girl at the End of the 1960s in Brussels
1996 Un divan à New York 108 minutes A Couch in New York
1997 Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman 64 minutes
1999 Sud 71 minutes South
2000 La Captive 118 minutes Collaboration with Eric de Kuyper The Captive
2002 De l'autre côté 103 minutes From the Other Side
2004 Demain on déménage 110 minutes Collaboration with Eric de Kuyper Tomorrow We Move
2006 Là-bas 78 minutes
2007 Tombée de nuit sur Shanghaï 60 minutes segment for O Estado do Mundo
2011 La Folie Almayer 127 minutes Almayer's Folly
2015 No Home Movie 115 minutes


  1. ^ "Chantal Akerman". The City College of New York. 
  2. ^ Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey, ed. (2003). Identity and Memory: The Films of Chantal Akerman. SIU Press. p. 204. ISBN 978-0809325139. 
  3. ^ a b Margulies, Ivone. "A Matter of Time: Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  4. ^ Margulies, Ivone (1996). Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman's hyperrealist everyday. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-8223-1723-0. 
  5. ^ Hoberman, J. (2001) [4 January 2000]. "100 Best Films of the 20th Century: Village Voice Critics' Poll". The Village Voice (reprint ed.). Reprinted by AMC.
  6. ^ a b "TSPDT". They Shoot Pictures Don't They. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "Berlinale: 1991 Juries". Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  8. ^ "Berlinale: 1989 Programme". Retrieved 2011-03-11. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Sultan, Terrie (ed.) Chantal Akerman: Moving through Time and Space. Houston, Tex.: Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston ; New York, N.Y.: Distributed by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, 2008.
  • White, Jerry (2005). "Chantal Akerman's Revisionist Aesthetic". In Jean Petrolle & Virginia Wright Wexman. Women & Experimental Filmmaking. Urbana: University of Illinois. ISBN 0252030060. 
  • Smith, Dinitia (26 April 1998). "Chantal Akerman and the Point of Point of View". The New York Times. 
  • Rosen, Miriam (1 April 2004). "In Her Own Time". Artforum International. Retrieved 14 May 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  • Searle, Adrian (15 July 2008). "Smoke and mirror-images". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  • Gandert, Sean (28 August 2009). "Salute Your Shorts: Chantal Akerman's Saute ma ville". Paste. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  • Schenker, Andrew (15 January 2010). "Eclipse Series 19: Chantal Akerman in the Seventies". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  • McGill, Hannah (4 November 2012). "Leading the Way for the Flair Ladies". The Sunday Herald (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved 14 May 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]