Festival Showcases Film Work of Chantal Akerman

Chantal Akerman

Nov. 3, 2016 

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan University will hold a film festival featuring the work of Belgian director Chantal Akerman Nov. 14-17. The festival will include a lecture by UCLA film professor Janet Bergstrom, an expert on Akerman’s work, on Nov. 16. 

Akerman (1950-2015) made more than 40 films. In a New York Times article reporting on her death, she was noted for her “ruminative, meticulous observation of women’s inner lives, often using long takes” which made her “a pioneer in feminist and experimental filmmaking.” Her best-known film was Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), a hypnotic, real-time study of a widowed, middle-aged housewife. The film has become a cult classic and was named number 19 in The Village Voice Critics’ Poll of the “100 Best Films of the 20th Century.”

Akerman’s last film, No Home Movie (2015), focuses on conversations between Akerman and her ailing mother, a survivor of Auschwitz. Consisting of exchanges in person and via Skype, the documentary was described as “an extremely intimate film but also one of great formal precision and beauty, one of the rare works of art that is both personal and universal, and as much a masterpiece as her 1975 career-defining Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.”

Her most commercial film, A Couch in New York, starred William Hurt and Juliette Binoche and was released in 1996. In recent years Akerman was also a visiting lecturer at the City College of New York.

Janet Bergstrom

The UCLA film professor, Bergstrom, is the author of the essay “Keeping a Distance (The Innovators 1970-1980: Chantal Akerman),” which was published in Sight & Sound. Bergstrom’s research involves archivally based, cross-cultural studies of European directors who worked in more than one national cinema, such as Akerman. In “Keeping a Distance,” Bergstrom argues that Akerman’s films found a new, personal way of screening women. Bergstrom’s lecture, “Disappearance Stories in the Films of Chantal Akerman: The Captive,” will begin at 4 p.m. Nov. 16 in The Ames Library’s Beckman Auditorium.  The Captive, will be screened at 5 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium.

The full schedule of film screenings includes:

Nov. 14, 7 p.m., Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, State Farm Hall 102

Nov. 15, 6 p.m., South, The Ames Library Beckman Auditorium

Nov. 16, 5 p.m., The Captive, The Ames Library Beckman Auditorium

Nov. 17, 7 p.m., No Home Movie, The Ames Library Beckman Auditorium (presented with the International Film Series)

The Akerman film festival is presented by the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice, and is a co-curricular programming event part of Illinois Wesleyan’s 2016-2017 intellectual theme Women’s Power, Women’s Justice