b. 6 June 1950, Brussels, Belgium
d. 5 October 2015, Paris, France

When people ask me if I am a feminist film maker, I reply I am a woman and I also make films.” –  Chantal Akerman

Chantal Akerman was one of the most important filmmakers of the late-20th century, whose films have had a profound impact on feminist discourse within the cinema, and within avant-garde film and video art at an international level. Born in 1950, Akerman was famously close to her mother, Natalia, who survived the Holocaust. Her first film project was Saute ma ville (Blow Up My Town, 1968), a short film which she made after attending the Belgian film school Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle et des Techniques de Diffusion for one semester, and then summarily dropping out. When the film was screened at the Oberhausen Short Film festival in 1971, it attracted a good deal of attention, and shortly thereafter, Akerman left for the United States to further her film career.

Saute ma ville (Blow Up My Town, 1968)

In an interview with critic Gary Indiana in 1983, Akerman recalled that

with my first film I wanted to make a feature film so I decided to sell stock in the film. I made a stock book and went to Antwerp and sold certificates on the Diamond Bourse, selling the pages for $3 each. By the end I had only $200 or $300, not enough to make a feature film. I made a short film [Saute ma ville] with that. It wasn’t enough to finish the film, so I worked in banks, in shops, sending telexes; Phillips Petroleum telex, American Express telex. Then, when I went to New York, first I worked in a restaurant, La Poulade . . . I took care of coats and hats, putting glasses of water and butter on the tables. . . [then] I worked at the New School, modeling for sculpture. I also worked in a photo lab blowing up pictures. Later I worked in a thrift shop, and then on Orchard Street. Then I worked at the 55th Street Playhouse [a porn theater] as a cashier; and in three weeks I stole $4000, and I made Hotel Monterey and La Chambre [1972] with that. That was the end of it for stealing. I stopped. Then I made Je, Tu, II, Elle [1974]; for that I worked as a typist. Then that was finished because I got some grants from [the Belgian] government.” 1

Claiming that she was profoundly influenced by Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le fou (1965), Akerman established her long-take minimalist slow cinema style even in these early efforts. In Hotel Monterey, for example, people move in and out of the frame of a stationary camera. Already Akerman expresses an interest in the ephemeral nature of modern urban life, with an emphatic eye towards transient spaces – hotels, train stations – and the people who move within these spaces. But with her ‘studies’ complete in New York, she returned to Belgium to create her first feature film.

Chantal Akerman

Hotel Monterey (1972)

Je tu il elle (I…You…He…She, 1974) is Akerman’s breakthrough work, composed of long blocks of static black-and-white takes, reminiscent of the films of Andy Warhol. Asked about Warhol’s influence on her work, Akerman noted that she had seen only The Chelsea Girls (1966) and Eat (1963), and commented that “a critic said I have something from Warhol and something from Robert Wilson, that I’m a mixture of that. I think it’s by chance. It was in the air. Probably Warhol is a big, big originator of all the things like that, but it wasn’t because I saw it; it was something that was there. I think my films are more sentimental”.2 Akerman’s impassive camera documents the solitary life of a single woman lost in a modern industrial world. The scene of this woman, naked and alone, desperately eating sugar, is remarkable for its intensity, as is the footage of her desperately arranging and rearranging the meager furniture in her apartment. The woman hitchhikes, is picked up by a trucker, and gives an off-screen hand job to the truck driver. Feminist critics have scrutinised this scene, sometimes missing the camp humor inherent in such a treatment of sexuality. Next, the woman makes love to another woman, in a sequence that has similarly attracted a great deal of attention from feminist critics. Because the camera records the action in an almost scientific manner, the scene has often been noted for its self-conscious display of dehumanisation and lack of visual pleasure.

Chantal Akerman

Je tu il elle (I…You…He…She, 1974)

However, as Andrea Weiss points out, this “absolutely uneroticized lesbian lovemaking scene must be credited for its courage in 1974, especially given that it includes the filmmaker in the scene and rejects art cinema conventions governing lesbian sexuality.”3 The camera positioning is specifically meant to de-aestheticise the onscreen lovemaking, by making us aware of our off-screen voyeurism. The naturalistic use of sound also underscores the scene’s break from Hollywood and art-house depictions of sexuality. However, not all critics have found the scene to be without eroticism. I find the scene more erotic than conventionally constructed sex scenes because of Akerman’s embrace of natural sound and image, and because of the tension that develops in watching such a radically different approach to the female body and to sexuality. As Judith Mayne notes, “one could hardly find a contemporary woman’s film more saturated with authorial signature than Je tu il elle.”4 It is perhaps the difficulty of the avant-garde re-representation of the female body that makes this film so memorable. The fact that the main character is played by the filmmaker herself tends to move the critic into a discussion of subjectivity beyond the realm of the film frame.

Chantal Akerman

Delphine Seyrig in Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

Female identity and subjectivity are also at the center of Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), Akerman’s film of routine daily activities of a Belgian housewife and prostitute, Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig), forced to turn to prostitution to make ends meet. As Teresa de Lauretis argues, in Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, “the narrative suspense is not built on the expectation of a ‘significant event’ . . . but is produced by the . . . hesitations between real-time gestures as common and ‘insignificant’ as peeling potatoes, washing dishes, or making coffee . . . What the film constructs – formally and artfully, to be sure – is a picture of female experience.”5 The routine existence of Jeanne Dielman is hardly changed with a scene in which Jeanne suddenly kills a client with a pair of scissors after having sex with him. In any other filmmaker’s hands, the scene would be dramatic. The almost unendurably long take of Jeanne sitting at a table for several minutes after the murder (doing absolutely nothing) disrupts easy audience identification, even as it subtly builds tension in the same way as the sex scenes in I…You…He…She.

Chantal Akerman

News from Home (1977)

News from Home (1977) and Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (Meetings with Anna, 1978) exemplify Akerman’s continual risk-taking anti-cinema. In News from Home, Akerman lets the spectator stare at urban spaces while an off-screen narrator (Akerman) reads letters from a mother to an absent daughter. Akerman utilises the monotony of the mother’s voice to create discord and disharmony, rather than using narrative plots designed artificially to construct a traditional narrative. News from Home can be read as an astute commentary on the artificiality of mainstream cinematic narrative conventions.

Chantal Akerman

Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (Meetings with Anna, 1978)

Similarly, Meetings with Anna uses a minimalist approach to everyday sameness to create an understated drama. In this film, the camera follows a filmmaker who travels through depeopled spaces – hotels, train stations, underground railways. She meets a man desperate for companionship. Rather than conform to conventional heterotopic narrative closure devices, the woman abruptly leaves the man. Meetings with Anna can be identified for Akerman’s signature long takes, avoidance of close-ups, naturalistic sound, lack of mainstream narrative, and self-inscription as Jewish lesbian feminist director. Significantly, we never actually see her attend a screening of one of her films; we only see her checking in and out of hotels, summarily brushing off would-be fans as she does so. Sexual encounters are unfulfilling, and the film encourages a cerebral audience identification, rather than a ‘pleasurable’ passive audience experience. The life of an independent filmmaker is seen as lonely, banal, but most of all exilic and transient.

Chantal Akerman

Les années 80 (The Eighties, 1983)

Les années 80 (The Eighties, 1983) is a poetic contemplation of the mechanics of the performative body. Akerman exposes the simulacrum of the female body as it is constructed in the musical comedy film, queering the performative body in an anti-narrativistic yet pleasurable montage of aural and visual passages. Songs, lines of dialogue and fragments of choreography are repeatedly rehearsed, as Akerman demystifies the process of the filmic and syntactic construction of the heteronormative musical, while simultaneously offering a meditation on the scopic zones of the body. The Eighties motions towards a hyperreal cinema of embodied pleasure across the limitations of the cinematic apparatus, rearticulating the bodies and voices of Akerman’s performers into a confrontational displacement of our expectations of the traditional musical and/or narrative film.

Chantal Akerman

Toute une nuit (All Night Long, 1982)

Toute une nuit (All Night Long, 1982) continues the themes of modernity, alienation and exile, as it follows the monotonous sexual encounters of one particular night, as suggested in the film’s title. Couples do not get together in All Night Long. Marsha Kinder describes the challenges posed by this film: “by denying us a single unifying story, by frequently pitting word against visual image and non-verbal sound, by discouraging us from identifying with any of the anonymous characters, by denying us a single unified subject position . . .Toute une nuit makes us change the way we read a film.”6

Chantal Akerman

J’ai faim, j’ai froid (I’m Hungry, I’m Cold, 1984)

All Night Long was followed by a flurry of short films, most notably J’ai faim, j’ai froid (I’m Hungry, I’m Cold, 1984), a 12-minute feminist comedy in which two young women come to Paris for the first time, and spend most of their visit in a restaurant compulsively eating food while they try to figure out their next move. In 1986 Akerman directed the episode “Portrait d’une Paresseuse” in the film Seven Women, Seven Sins, a minor affair, but in the same year made the harrowing rarely screened adaptation of Rose Leiman Goldemberg’s off- Broadway play of the same name, Letters Home (1986), which stars Coralie Seyrig as Sylvia Plath, the tragic British poet who took her own life in 1963. In 1989, Akerman directed Histoires d’Amérique (American Stories, Food, Family and Philosophy), a feature length study of Jewish identity in New York City, in which Jewish New Yorkers discuss their lives and their struggle to retain a sense of cultural continuity in contemporary American society.  The film was screened at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival, but received little distribution after that.

Chantal Akerman

Nuit et jour (Night and Day, 1991)

Akerman’s Nuit et jour (Night and Day, 1991) departs significantly in style from these earlier films in that it is much more playful, light and commercially oriented. The film centers on the life of Julie (Guilaine Londez), a young woman who lives in Paris, and who makes love to one man by night, and another man by day. At the end of the film, Julie walks away from both lovers. The film is stunning in terms of cinematography and the use of color and framing. Critics have noted the lack of anger and intensity of Night and Day, in comparison with Akerman’s earlier work. Nevertheless, Night and Day can be read as a significant feminist statement. The central protagonist explores her sexuality and simply walks away from the men who court her – without suffering – or even choosing either of them. Akerman here regenders the love-triangle romance, in which a male hero chooses between traditionally binary opposites of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women. But such relatively commercial ventures were interspersed with the more personal work which increasingly occupied Akerman’s attention, as in D’Est (From The East, 1993), an impressionist documentary of life in the former Soviet Union after the collapse of the Communist regime, composed in a series of static tableaux in Akerman’s signature, contemplative style.

Chantal Akerman

D’Est (From The East, 1993)

In similar fashion, her hour-long film Portrait d’une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles (Portrait of a Young Girl at the End of the 1960s in Brussels, 1994), aired as part of the television series Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge…, of which critic Daryl Chin cited as “one of her tightest and most suggestive works. At a little less than an hour, she captures the frustrations, the inchoate desires, and the yearnings of a teenage girl, seemingly adrift, but actually surveying her options and trying to develop her sense of self . . . this is one of Akerman’s most emotionally acute films.”7 In 1996, Akerman created Chantal Akerman by Chantal Akerman, a video meditation on her life and work, in which she directly addresses the camera for the first half of the film, reading from a prepared text. In the video’s second section, Akerman reviews her career as an artist with clips from her films, as if coming to terms with her own cinematic past.

Chantal Akerman

Un divan à New York (A Couch in New York, 1996)

Also in 1996, Akerman directed what might be described as her penultimate attempt at a ‘commercial’ feature film, the light romantic fantasy Un divan à New York (A Couch in New York), starring William Hurt and Juliette Binoche, which despite its star power sat on the shelf for a while, before opening quietly at Anthology film Archives in Manhattan in November, 1997. Reviewing the film for The New York Times, Janet Maslin commented that while the film could be compared to

Lubitsch, Cukor and Capra, it has a premise that could work for Neil Simon, too . . . Dr. Henry Harriston [Hurt] winds up in the bohemian digs of Beatrice Saulnier [Binoche], who left so hastily that her lingerie is still lying on the floor. Beatrice is as messy as Henry is neat, and there are other convenient parallels as well. She has pet birds; he has a dog. Her phone rings all night with calls from desperate boyfriends, while at Henry’s place desperate patients keep hoping that the doctor is in. Beatrice begins counseling these patients, all of whom are men. And she learns to say ”Yes?” and ”Mm-hmm” so professionally that she is soon much in demand. Then Henry decides he has had enough of Paris, comes home and finds everything flourishing without him, including houseplants and dog. And when he pretends to be a patient of Beatrice’s and gets to know her, his transformation is complete . . . coming from Ms. Akerman, this is pleasant but unaccountable fluff.8

Shot in French and English to accommodate the two major cast members, with English subtitles, A Couch in New York is a pleasing but surprisingly lightweight film from Akerman, and was not a commercial success. From this point on, Akerman seems to have turned her back on making films to please audiences – something she had done only sporadically throughout her career – and returned to making intensely personal, deeply affecting films.

Chantal Akerman

Sud (1999)

In 1999, Akerman completed Sud, a breathtaking experimental slow cinematic documentary about the horrific murder of African American James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, who was beaten and dragged to his death from the back of a pickup truck by three white men. The film begins with Akerman’s signature long takes, as she drives through the town documenting the people and the landscape of Jasper. No narrator tells us what to think or what we are about to experience. Akerman intercuts interviews with Caucasian and African American members of the community, who speak about the horrible crime, with long sequences of an African American church service and images of the Texas countryside. By letting the protagonists speak for themselves, Akerman evokes the bleak reality of racism that made Byrd’s murder possible. The film ends with an almost unendurably long tracking shot from the back of a car, looking back impassively at the three-mile stretch of road where Byrd was dragged to his death.

Sud is less than roughly seventy minutes long, yet it has the impact of films such as Alain Resnais’s Night and Fog (1955) or Henri Georges Clouzot’s Wages of Fear (1953). It is minimalist in its number of shots and sequences, but this only makes the overall impact of the film all the more compelling. Akerman uses silence and ambient sound to draw the viewer into a subjective state of understanding. As a documentarian, Akerman rarely involves herself in the events she witnesses but rather documents the people and places of Jasper impassively, nonjudgmentally, as if to present to her audience a tapestry of human cultural experience, placing the spectator at the scene of the crime. Sud is thus a remarkable mixture of realism and intentional distancing technique, which leaves the viewer speechless, angered, and sad. It is a lyrical tribute to the barbarism of race-based crime and America’s continuing deep-seated racism.

Chantal Akerman

La Captive (The Captive, 2000)

In 2000, Chantal Akerman released the feature-length fiction film La Captive (The Captive), an elegant adaptation of Marcel Proust’s La Prisonnière (1923), book five of his epic seven-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past. La Captive has been critically hailed as a masterpiece and topped most of the New York film critics’ “Ten Best” lists for the year. Shown at the French Film Festival at the Walter Reade Theatre in New York in 2000 with the director in attendance, La Captive drew immediate praise for its masterful capturing of obsessional love, sexual obsession, and passion. Stanislas Merhar’s performance as Simon, a bored, wealthy young man in the grip of an erotic obsession he can neither understand nor control, is understated and stunning. Simon’s love-object, Ariane, impressively played by Sylvie Testud, is ultimately unable to deal with the continuing pressure of Simon’s attentions.

La Captive opens with a poetic sequence of images showing Ariane at the beach, frolicking with her friends. Ariane is attracted to both women and men, especially Simon, but obviously bored and unhappy in her role as Simon’s reluctant yet ultimately compliant prisoner. The relationship between the rich, indolent Simon and Ariane is doomed from the start, yet Akerman takes her time with this desperate scenario, allowing the characters’ obsessions to gradually unfold before the viewer’s eyes. Akerman composes La Captive in her trademark long takes, sometimes with a slowly tracking camera, and alternatively with a series of static set-ups that confine the characters within the performance space they inhabit. The film simmers with sexual tension and elegance, at once audacious and original, displaying a vision that is uniquely Akerman’s own.

Chantal Akerman

De l’autre côté (From The Other Side, 2002)

From this point on, Akerman’s films – many of them now shot on digital video – became more and more personal, and increasingly identified with marginalised members of society. In De l’autre côté (From The Other Side, 2002) she documented the plight of Mexican immigrants crossing the border into the United States in search of a better life, and in Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton (2003), paid tribute to her wife in a quiet, meditational 41 minute character study. Demain on déménage (Tomorrow We Move, 2004) was another attempt at making a more mainstream film, but unlike A Couch in New York, it failed to find favor with most critics or viewers. Yet for more perceptive viewers, the film had considerable resonance, as Eric Henderson in the web journal Slant noted when he wrote that

In Tomorrow We Move, Charlotte (Sylvie Testud) lets her widowed mother Catherine (Aurore Clément) move into her two-level abode and, aside from her mother’s luxurious grand piano (lowered via crane in the film’s dreamlike first shot), every other last possession adds to an already cluttered living space . . . Told to whip up a batch of erotic prose, despite the fact that her life experience dabbling in eroticism has apparently been amassed through eavesdropping, Charlotte collects random snatches of other people’s descriptors and stories, convinced that they represent a concentrated intimacy . . . It would be pure absurdism if Akerman’s detached logic didn’t make so much sense. 9

Chantal Akerman

Là-bas (Down There, 2006)

It was clear that Akerman was becoming increasingly impatient with audience-pleasing narratives, and turned towards meditative documentaries of a deeply personal nature, in such films as Là-bas (Down There, 2006), which she shot in an apartment in Tel Aviv that had been loaned to her by a friend for a few weeks. The film consists of Akerman’s signature long takes, looking out the windows of the flat to view couples on the balconies opposite the apartment. Akerman seems content to live in a state of isolation, subsisting on the barest necessities, interrupted only by a few short trips to a nearby beach. In the voiceover narrative, Akerman speaks about her life, her fears, her strong sense of exilic Jewish identity. Down There is clearly a film that Akerman made for herself alone; the audience factor here is almost incidental. At 78 minutes, the film demands that you either accept it on its own terms, or leave; in a sense, the film is a return to the claustrophobic interior space of the apartment in Jeanne Dielman, but now, Akerman is at the center of the work, mercilessly exposing herself through her words, as the camera contemplates the limited view of the world outside.

Several short films followed Down There, including the segment “Tombée de nuit sur Shanghai” in the multipart film State of The World (2007), Women from Antwerp in November (2008), and then the feature length documentary À l’Est avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton (2009), which follows Akerman’s wife on tour, giving a series of cello concerts starting in Western Europe, and gradually moving through Eastern Europe and Russia. Wieder-Atherton is the main focus here, both in close-up and full figure shots, as she plays with passion and conviction with a series of small ensembles. Having been one of the principal contributors to the music score for A Couch in New York, Akerman here gives Wieder-Atherton her own ‘star’ vehicle, creating a romantic yet austere experience for the viewer.

Chantal Akerman

La folie Almayer (Almayer’s Folly, 2011)

After this run of deeply ruminative, small-scale works, one last major film was still to come; Akerman’s final narrative feature film, La folie Almayer (Almayer’s Folly, 2011), based on the 1895 novel by Joseph Conrad. When the film opened in New York in 2012, Nicolas Rapold observed in The New York Times that

Almayer [Stanislas Merhar, who did such brilliant work in Akerman’s La Captive] lives in a darkened riverside bungalow within a Malaysian jungle whose thick deep-green vegetation is practically inseparable from the stubborn tangles of his mind. Nina, his daughter with a local woman who has gone mad, is sent away for Western-style schooling in the city, only to find rejection instead of assimilation . . . This effect of [Almayer’s exile from society] is as intense as the excitement, despair, reflection or disconnect in Ms. Akerman’s previous, personally felt studies of travelers abroad, from Les Rendez-Vous d’Anna and News From Home to D’Est and Là-bas. Almayer’s Folly is not friendly terrain to traverse; like some sinister version of Proust, it is a prolonged fever dream that ultimately yields madness.10

Shot in Cambodia by Akerman’s longtime cinematographer on her more ambitious projects, Rémon Fromont, Almayer’s Folly projects an overwhelming sense of decay, torpor, and alienation, as Almayer literally seems to rot away in a jungle hellhole, unwilling or unable to remove himself from its grasp. At two hours and eight minutes, the film is not so much an endurance test as an experiential environment piece; by the end of the film, the viewer feels nearly every bit as stuck and immobile as Almayer is in the film, perhaps projecting Akerman’s own increasing sense of alienation from the world around her. The feminist film reworks Joseph Conrad’s novel to carefully place the female figures at the center of the narrative. It is a largely overlooked brilliant feminist exploration of malaise and the indignities of colonialism.

Chantal Akerman

No Home Movie (2015)

When Almayer’s Folly received only limited release and mixed critical response, Akerman regrouped, creating a series of video installations from her existing video documentary work, but it was clear that Almayer’s Folly had been her last major statement, and that she was now looking back on her life, rather than into the future. After a gap of four years, Akerman finished her final project, No Home Movie (2015), a documentary of her dying mother, Natalia, shot in her mother’s apartment in Brussels. For most of the two-hour running time, we witness Akerman and her mother talking about the past, eating food, occasionally visited by Sylvaine, Akerman’s sister. Even when Akerman leaves the apartment, she still remains inside it in a sense, visiting her mother by Skype from various locations around the world, as if keeping in contact with her mother is her most important duty. The film’s last shot of her mother’s empty apartment after Natalia’s death memorialises not only her mother, but also Akerman’s long and intensely close relationship with her.  Shortly after the completion of the film, Akerman, deeply depressed by her mother’s passing, died at the age of 65 on 5 October 2015. Although a number of high profile retrospectives and the premiere of her last film were already scheduled, Akerman’s suicide immediately opened the floodgates to a host of books on her life and work, as well as retrospective screenings, DVD releases, a host of conferences and workshops on her work as a visual artist, and a special dossier dedicated to her work at Senses of Cinema. Akerman had struggled to get funding for her work in her last years, but now she is appreciated for single handedly changing cinema itself.

Chantal Akerman

Chantal Akerman in Saute ma ville (Blow Up My Town, 1968)

Akerman worked on the borders of cinema and video, often in an unsettling manner, occasionally turning to conventional narratives in the hope of funding other projects with a substantial commercial success, but always returning to studies of isolation, alienation, and loss, her true terrain as an artist. Her work is about the burdens of humanity, of liminal existence, and the exilic ‘outsiderness’ of much of the world’s population, existing in a permanent state of exile from their homelands, which they can never truly leave in their heart and imagination. In addition to the numerous films chronicled here, Akerman also created a series of video installations at galleries around the world, adding to her visual legacy; as this essay concentrates on her film work, these works are not examined here.

In her strongest films, especially Jeanne Dielman, Les Rendez-vous d’Anna, Sud, La Captive, and Almayer’s Folly, Akerman documents the lives of those who exist outside of society, the exilic and the liminal, cut off from the world around themselves. Akerman’s work is thus a testimony to the strength of the individual in a cruel and indifferent world, and of the need to create works that speak to the outsider in all of us. In this, she discharged her creative duties with tenacious brilliance, leaving an uncompromising legacy unmatched in modern cinema history.


Brief portions of the essay originally appeared in Identity and Memory: The Films of Chantal Akerman by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003); reprinted here by kind permission.



1968 Saute ma ville (Blow Up My Town) (Short)

1971 L’enfant aimé ou je joue à être une femme mariée (The Beloved Child, or I Play at Being a Married Woman)(Short)

1973 Hanging Out Yonkers (Short)

1974 Je Tu Il Elle (I, You, He, She)

1975 Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels

1975 Hôtel Monterey (Documentary)

1975 Le 15/8 (Short)

1975 La chambre (The Room) (Short)

1977 News from Home (Documentary)

1978 Les rendez-vous d’Anna (The Meetings of Anna)

1980 Dis-moi (Tell Me)

1982 Toute une nuit (All Night Long)

1983 Les années 80 (The Eighties) (Documentary)

1983 On Tour with Pina Bausch (Documentary)

1983 L’homme à la valise (The Man with the Suitcase)

1984 J’ai faim, j’ai froid (I’m Hungry, I’m Cold) (Short)

1984 New York, New York bis (Short; Considered Lost)

1984 Lettre d’un cinéaste: Chantal Akerman (Letter from a Filmmaker: Chantal Akerman) (Short)

1984 Family Business: Chantal Akerman Speaks About Film (Short)

1986 Seven Women, Seven Sins (segment “Portrait d’une Paresseuse”)

1986 Golden Eighties (Window Shopping)

1986 Mallet-Stevens (Short)

1986 Letters Home

1986 Le marteau (The Hammer) (Short)

1989 Les trois dernières sonates de Franz Schubert (Franz Schubert’s Last Three Sonatas)

1989 Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher (Three Stanzas on the Name Sacher) (Short)

1989 Histoires d’Amérique: Food, Family and Philosophy (American Stories, Food, Family and Philosophy)

1991 Nuit et jour (Night and Day)

1991 Contre l’Oubli (Lest We Forget) (segment “Pour Febe Elisabeth Velasquez, El Salvador”)

1993 Monologues (TV Series) 1 episode – “Le déménagement” (1993)

1993 D’Est (From the East) (Documentary)

1994 Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge . . . (All the Boys and Girls of Their Time) (TV Series – 1 episode – “Portrait d’une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles”)

1996 Un divan à New York (A Couch in New York)

1997 Cinéma, de notre temps (Cinema of Our Time) (TV Series documentary)

(1 episode – “Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman” (1997)

1999 Sud (South) (Documentary)

2000 La Captive (The Captive)

2002 From the Other Side

2003 Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton (With Sonia Wieder-Atherton) (Documentary)

2004 Demain on déménage (Tomorrow We Move)

2006 Down There (Documentary)

2007 State of the World (segment “Tombée de nuit sur Shanghai”)

2008 Women from Antwerp in November (Short)

2009 À l’Est avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton (Documentary)

2011 La folie Almayer (Almayer’s Folly)

2015 No Home Movie (Documentary)


Further Reading

Akerman, Chantal. Les Rendez-vous d’Anna. Paris: Editions Albatros, 1978.

                    . Un divan à New York. Paris: L’Arche, 1996.

_____________ and Anders Kreuger, eds. Chantal Akerman: Too Far, Too Close. Antwerp, Belgium: Ludion, 2012.

                    and Eric De Kuyper. “Le Manoir,” Cahiers du Cinéma supplement to issue 400 (October 1987): 8.

Alemann, Claudia and Heike Hurst. “Interview mit Chantal Akerman,” Frauen und Film 7 (March 1976): 32-37.

Apon, Annette. “Chantal Akerman, onderweg naar de autonome vrouw,” Skrien 84 (February 1979): 28-31.

Aranda, Iván and Andeas Pagaolatos. “Entrevista con Chantal Akerman,” Contracampo 20 (March 1981): 55-61.

Arnaud, Catherine. “Toute une nuit,” La Revue du Cinéma/Image et Son/Ecran 377 (November 1982): 28-29.

Aubenas, Jacqueline (ed). Chantal Akerman. Brussels: Atelier des Arts, 1982.

Baecque, Antoine de. “Letters Home de Chantal Akerman,” Cahiers du Cinéma 399 (September 1987): ii.

Barrowclough, Susan. “Toute une nuit (All Night Long),” Monthly Film Bulletin 51: 603 (April 1984): 103-104.

Bassan, Raphaël. “Nuit et jour: Nomadisme des passions,” Revue du Cinéma 474 (September 1991): 26-27.

Bergstrom, Janet. “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles by Chantal Akerman,” Camera Obscura 2 (Autumn 1977): 114-118.

Carbonnier, Alain. “Golden Eighties,” Cinéma 360 (June 25, 1986): 3.

Champetier, Caroline. “Rencontre avec Chantal Akerman: ‘Les Rendez-vous d’Anna,” Cahiers du Cinéma 288 (May 1978): 53-61.

Chantal Akerman. Madrid: Filmoteca Nacional de España, 1977.

“Chantal Akerman on Jeanne Dielman,” Camera Obscura 2 (Autumn 1977): 118-121.

Cook, Pam. “Golden Eighties,” Monthly Film Bulletin 54: 638 (March 1987): 67-68.

Creveling, Christina. “Women Working: Chantal Akerman,” Camera Obscura 1 (Autumn 1976): 136-139.

Daney, Serge. “Toute une nuit: Chantal Akerman,” in Ciné journal 1981-1986 Paris: Editions Cahiers du cinéma: 1986: 131-132.

Danton, Amina. “Tout ou rien,” Cahiers du Cinéma 447 (September 1991): 62-63.

Dawson, Jan. “News from Home,” Monthly Film Bulletin 46: 546 (July 1979): 150.

Delavaud, Gilles. “Les chemins de Chantal Akerman,” Cahiers du Cinéma 322 (April 1981): v-vi.

de Lauretis, Teresa. Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film and Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.

Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. London: The Athlone Press, 1989.

Doane, Mary Ann. “Woman’s Stake: Filming the Female Body,” October 17 (Summer 1981): 23-36.

Dubroux, Danièle. “Le familier inquiétant (Jeanne Dielman),” Cahiers du Cinéma 265 (March-April 1976): 17-20.

                   , Thérèse Giraud and Louis Skorecki. “Entretien avec Chantal Akerman,” Cahiers du Cinéma 278 (July 1977): 34-42.

Elley, Derek. “All Night Long,” Films and Filming (May 1984): 35.

Fischer, Lucy. “Shall We Dance? Feminist Cinema Remakes the Musical,” Film Criticism 13: 2 (Winter 1989): 7-17.

Forbes, Jill. “Les Rendez-vous d’Anna,” Monthly Film Bulletin 47: 558 (July 1980): 139.

                   . “Histoires d’Amérique: Food, Family and Philosophy (American Stories),” Monthly Film Bulletin 57: 673 (February 1990): 40-41.

                   . “Conservatory Blues: Golden Eighties,” Sight and Sound 56: 2 (Spring 1987): 145.

Gabanelli, Milena. “Cronache: Akerman, Duras, Eustache a Bologna,” Cineforum 20: 3 (March 1980): 85-86.

Godard, Jean-Luc. “Entretien sur un projet: Chantal Akerman,” Ça Cinéma 19 (1980): 5-16.

Halbreich, Kathy and Bruce Jenkins (eds). Bordering on Fiction: Chantal Akerman’s D’Est (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1995).

Hoberman, J. “Jeanne Dielman: Woman’s Work,” The Village Voice 29 March 1983: 1, 48.

                   . “Once More with Feeling,” The Village Voice 14 May 1985: 60.

                   . “Mall Flowers,” The Village Voice 21 April 1992: 51.

Indiana, Gary. “Getting Ready for The Golden Eighties: A Conversation with Chantal Akerman,” Artforum 21: 10 (Summer 1983): 55-61.

Ishaghpour, Youssef. Cinéma Contemporain: De ce coté du miroir (Paris: Editions de la Différence: 1986).

Johnston, Claire. “Towards a Feminist Film Practice: Some Theses,” in Bill Nichols, ed. Movies and Methods, volume II: An Anthology. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press 1985: 315-327.

Katz, Alyssa. “True Lies: Working the Space Between Fact and Fiction,” The Village Voice 23 May 1995.

Kinder, Marsha. “Reflections on ‘Jeanne Dielman’,” Film Quarterly 30: 4 (Summer 1977): 2-8.

                   . “The Subversive Potential of the Pseudo-Iterative,” Film Quarterly 43: 2 (Winter 1989-90): 2-16.

Kruger, Barbara. “Les Années 80,” Artforum 22: 4 (December 1983): 84-85.

Kuhn, Annette. Women’s Pictures: Feminism and Cinema, 2nd ed. London: Verso, 1994.

Kwietniowski, Richard. “Separations: Chantal Akerman’s ‘News from Home’ (1976) and ‘Toute une nuit’ (1982),” Movie 34/35 (Winter 1990): 108-118.

Lakeland, Mary Jo. “The Color of Jeanne Dielman,” Camera Obscura 3/4 (Summer 1979): 216-218.

Les rendez-vous d’Anna,” Revue Belge du Cinéma 11 (October-November 1978): 76-77.

Levieux, Michèle. “Du Côté de Chez Kafka,” Écran 78: 75 (15 December 1979): 45-46.

                   . “Propos de Chantal Akerman,” Écran 78: 75 (15 December 1978): 47-51.

Levy, Emanuel. “D’Est (From the East),” Variety 11 October 1993.

Loader, Jayne. “Jeanne Dielman: Death in Installments,” Jump Cut 16 (1977): 10-12.

Longfellow, Brenda. “Love Letters to the Mother: The Work of Chantal Akerman,” Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory 13: 1-2 (1989): 73-90.

McRobbie, Angela. “Passionate Uncertainty,” Sight and Sound 2: 5 (September 1992): 28-29.

                   . “Nuit et jour (Night and Day),” Sight and Sound 2: 5 (September 1992): 54-55.

Magny, Joël. “Les Rendez-vous d’Anna: Le ‘non’ de l’auteur,” Cinéma 78: 239 (November 1978): 92-93.

Mairesse, Emmanuel. “A propos des films de C. Akerman: un temps-atmosphère,” Cahiers du Cinéma 281 (October 1977): 60-61.

Margulies, Ivone. Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.

Martin, Angela. “Chantal Akerman’s Films: A Dossier,” Feminist Review 3 (1979): 24-47.

Martin, Marcel. “Les Rendez-vous d’Anna,” Écran 78: 75 (15 December 1978): 51-52.

Maupin, Françoise. “Entretien avec Chantal Akerman,” La Revue du Cinéma/Image et Son 334 (December 1978): 99-103.

Mayne, Judith. The Woman at the Keyhole: Feminism and Women’s Cinema. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1990.

Morley, Meg. “Les Rendez-Vous d’Anna (Chantal Akerman),” Camera Obscura 3/4 (Summer 1979): 211-215.

Mulvey, Laura. “Guest Appearances,” Time Out 475 (25-31 May 1979): 19.

Narboni, Jean. “La quatrième personne du singulier (Je tu il elle),” Cahiers du Cinéma 276 (May 1977): 5-13.

Nesselson, Lisa. “Nuit et jour (Night and Day),” Variety 9 September 1991: 65.

Paskin, Sylvia. “Waiting for the Next Shot – Chantal Akerman,” Monthly Film Bulletin 57: 675 (March 1990): 88.

Patterson, Patricia and Manny Farber. “Beyond the New Wave: I. Kitchen Without Kitsch,” Film Comment 13: 6 (November-December 1977): 47-50.

Perlmutter, Ruth. “Feminine Absence: A Political Aesthetic in Chantal Akerman’s  Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai De [sic] Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,” Quarterly Review of Film Studies 4: 2 (Spring 1979): 125-133.

                   . “Visible Narrative, Visible Woman,” Millennium Film Journal 6 (Spring 1980): 18-30.

Philippon, Alain. “Fragments Bruxellois: Entretien avec Chantal Akerman,” Cahiers du Cinéma 341 (November 1982): 19-23.

                   . “Nuit torride,” Cahiers du Cinéma 341 (November 1982): 24-26.

Pym, John. “Jeanne Dielman 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles,” Monthly Film Bulletin 46: 543 (April 1979): 72.

                   . “Je tu il elle (I…You…He…She),” Monthly Film Bulletin 46:O 547 (August 1979): 175.

Reynaud, Bérènice. “Toronto’s ‘Festival of Festivals’,” Afterimage 13: 4 (November 1985): 20-21.

Rich, B. Ruby. “Up Against the Kitchen Wall: Chantal Akerman’s Meta-Cinema,” The Village Voice 29 March 1983: 1, 51.

Roelstraete, Dieter and Anders Kreuger, eds. Chantal Akerman: Too Far, Too Close. Antwerp: M HKA, 2012.

Rooney, David. “Portrait of a Young Girl At the End of the 1960s in Brussels (Portrait d’une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles),” Variety 5 December 1994.

                   . “A Couch in New York (Un Divan à New York),” Variety 12-18 February 1996: 81.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan. “Jean-Luc, Chantal, Danièle, Jean-Marie, and the Others,” American Film 4: 4 (February 1979): 53-56.

Schmid, Marion. Chantal Akerman. Manchester, UK: Manchester UP, 2017.

Silverman, Kaja. “Dis-embodying the Female Voice,” in Mary Ann Doane, Patricia Mellencamp and Linda Williams, eds. Re-Vision: Essays in Feminist Film Criticism. Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1984: 131-149.

Sultan, Terrie, ed. Chantal Akerman: Moving Through Space and Time. Houston, TX: Blaffer Gallery, The Art Museum of the University of Houston, 2008.

Squire, Corinne. “Toute une Heure: Corinne Squire Talks to Chantal Akerman,” Screen 25: 6 (November-December 1984): 67-71.

Taubin, Amy. “A Woman’s Tedium,” Soho Weekly News 25 November 1976: 31.

                   . “Laughter in the Dark,” The Village Voice 5 July 1989: 60, 64.

                   . “The Sound & the Fury,” The Village Voice 12 May 1998: 123.

Treilhou, Marie-Claude. “Chantal Akerman: ‘La vie, il faut la mettre en scène…’,” Cinéma 76: 206 (February 1976): 89-93.

Tremois, Claude-Marie. “Chantal Akerman: ‘A partir de quelques images de mon enfance’,” Télérama 14 January 1976: 66-68.

Weiss, Andrea. Vampires and Violets: Lesbians in the Cinema. London: Jonathan Cape, 1992.


Articles in Senses of Cinema

In Memoriam – Chantal Akerman: La Passion de L’Intime / An Intimate Passion by Bérénice Reynaud

Speech read out during the funeral ceremony for Chantal Akerman at the Père Lachaise cemetery, Tuesday, 13 October, 2015 by Delphine Horvilleur

A Last Conversation with Chantal Akerman by Esther Orner

Tribute to Chantal Akerman by Claire Atherton

About Saute ma ville (1968), Chantal Akerman’s first film by Nicole Fernandez Ferrer

Chantal Akerman: Heartfelt by Janet Bergstrom

Projection: On Chantal Akerman’s Screens, from Cinema to the Art Gallery by Giuliana Bruno

Chantal Akerman’s Là-bas: The Suspended Image and the Politics of Anti-Messianism by Chrysanthi Nigianni

Invested in Expression or in Its Destruction?: The Politics of Space and Representation in Chantal Akerman’s Cinema by Zain Jamshaid

Chantal and Some Comrades. Fragments. by Nicole Brenez

The Loudness of the World: Listening to What is Out There: Sound Strategies in Akerman’s Fiction and Documentary Films by Babette Mangolte

Akerman Resists Southern Comfort by Rose Capp



  1. Gary Indiana, “Getting Ready for The Golden Eighties: A Conversation with Chantal Akerman,” Artforum 21.10 (Summer 1983): 57.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Andrea Weiss, Vampires and Violets: Lesbians in the Cinema. London: Jonathan Cape, 1992: 114.
  4. Judith Mayne, The Woman at the Keyhole: Feminism and Women’s Cinema Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990: 129.
  5. Teresa de Lauretis, Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film and Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987: 131.
  6. Marsha Kinder, The Subversive Potential of the Pseudo-Iterative,” Film Quarterly 43.2 (Winter 1989/1990): 16.
  7. Chin, Daryl. “Portrait of the Artist as A Young Girl,” 6 December 2007, Internet Movie Data Base, <http://www.imdb.com/ title/tt0110873/ reviews?ref_=tt_urv>.
  8. Janet Maslin, “Sweet and Sour, a Romantic Blend,” The New York Times 19 November 1997<http://www.nytimes.com/movie/ review?res=9505E4DD1F38F93AA25752C1A961958260>.
  9. Eric Henderson, “Tomorrow We Move,” Slant 28 July 2005   <https://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/tomorrow-we-move>.
  10. Nicolas Rapold, “Trapped in a Jungle and A State of Mind: Almayer’s Folly,” The New York Times August 9, 2012 <http://www.nytimes.com/2012 /08/10/movies/almayers-folly-directed-by-chantal-akerman.html>.

About The Author

Gwendolyn Audrey Foster is an experimental filmmaker and Willa Cather Professor Emerita of Film Studies at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She has written extensively on race, gender and class in film, experimental film, LGBT+ film, and film history. Among her many books is Experimental Cinema: The Film Reader, co-edited with Wheeler Winston Dixon. Her documentary on early women filmmakers, The Women Who Made the Movies, is distributed by Women Make Movies. Her award-winning hand-made films are screened around the world in museums, galleries and film festivals.

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