Tuesday, 6 October 2015

OBIT - CHANTAL AKERMAN


Very sad news today, the 6th of October 2015, as the world learns of the death of influential Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman. A leading light in avant-garde cinema as far back as the 1960s and one of the foremost female directors of all time, Akerman will forever be remembered for her indelible contribution to cinema over dozens of seminal, brilliant features. A director of full-length and short films both, of fiction and documentary, she made her debut with 1968's short Saute Ma Ville at only 18 years of age, having enrolled at the Institut National Superieur des Arts du Spectacle et des Techniques de Diffusion. She moved to New York in 1972, though continued to make films in her first language, French. Over her decades-long career, those included some of the most important art films of the era, such as I, You, He, She, News from Home, The Meetings of Anna, Toute Une Nuit, The Captive, Almayer's Folly and 1975's classic Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which has rightly been recognised by several writers and film polls as one of the greatest films in history. This very year, she premiered her final film at the Locarno International Film Festival, the documentary No Home Movie, which received typically strong reviews from attending critics, and which also booked a slot recently at the New York Film Festival. Despite being considered by many of the great feminist filmmakers, and one of the most essential LGBT voices in cinema, she often refuted the specificity of these identities, aspects to her character which some found troublesome, though which reflect and inform much of her artistic output. Over her career, she was nominated not only for Locarno's Golden Leopard, but the Golden Lion at Venice, the Golden Bear at Berlin, the Bronze Horse at Stockholm and the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary, where she won the Ecumenical Jury Prize for 1996's A Couch in New York; she was also nominated for a Cesar Award for her 2006 documentary Down There. At only 65 at time of passing, this extraordinary talent will be very deeply missed by the international film-watching community. We shall continue to treasure her films, which will live on for as long as we do. May they live forever!