Belgian filmmaker and theorist Chantal Akerman has passed away at the age of 65. Falling in love with Godard and his crime drama “Pierrot Le Fou” at an early age, Akerman made her debut at age 18 with a 1968 short film titled “Saute ma ville,” and she continued experimenting with shorts and narrative features for a career that spanned over four decades.
The director is most well-regarded for her 1975 masterwork “Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,” which The New York Times famously hailed as “the first masterpiece of the feminine in the history of the cinema.” The drama unfolds over three hours and slowly follows the mundane life of a housewife as she performs her daily chores and engages in casual prostitution so that she can provide for herself and her son. The film recently earned a spot on Sight & Sound’s best movies of all time poll, earning Akerman the highest spot on the list for a female filmmaker.
Other notable titles in her filmography include “I, You, He, She” (1976), “News from Home” (1976), “Les Rendez-vous d’Anna” (1979), “Nuit et jour” (1991) and “D’est” (1993).
Akerman recently premiered her latest masterpiece, “No Home Movie,” at the Locarno Film Festival in August. The movie, which is a video essay about her mother, Natalia, an Auschwitz survivor who died last year, also played in the Wavelengths section of the Toronto International Film Festival.
In an official statement, TIFF said: “Chantal Akerman was one of the greatest filmmakers and artists of our time. Daring, original, uncompromising, and in all ways radical, Akerman revolutionized the history of cinema not only with her masterpiece ‘Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles’ but also with the sustained urgency of her brilliance. With acknowledged influences from Michael Snow and Godard, Akerman created new formal languages and consistently expanded cinema’s reach with her restless curiosity and willingness to wade into taboo subjects. Her incomparable body of work consists of fiction, documentaries, adaptations (‘La Captive’ from Proust, ‘La Folie Almayer’ from Conrad), and raw, personal essays, including her final film ‘No Home Movie,’ an intimate portrait of her mother. She was also an acclaimed author, celebrated contemporary artist, a friend and constant source of inspiration and awe to many. Forever great.”
“No Home Movies” will play at the New York Film Festival tomorrow, October 7.