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Chantal Akerman

Chantal Akerman (1950–2015)

Belgian director and artist Chantal Akerman has died, reports Catherine Shoard for The Guardian. Hugely influential to experimental and feminist filmmaking, Akerman was just at Locarno’s film festival last month with her new film No Home Movie (2014), a portrait of her mother Natalia, who survived Auschwitz and was often a figure in Akerman’s work.

Her first UK exhibition will open later this month at ICA London, where she was also scheduled to appear for a masterclass and Q&A. It was also just revealed that she would be included in “Greater New York” at MoMA PS1.

Akerman gained wide renown for Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelle, a 1975 film that pictured an aging widow performing domestic tasks and augmenting her income through prostitution. (As Amy Taubin wrote, the film “reinvented cinematic language” and “inspired thirty years of what is termed ‘observational fiction cinema.’ . . . Among the American filmmakers who found the film revelatory: Gus Van Sant, Todd Haynes, and Jim Jarmusch.”)

In 2011, Akerman joined the staff of New York’s City College. Her films and videos have been featured in the Center Pompidou, Documenta XI, and the 2001 Venice Biennale. The Austrian Film Museum mounted a retrospective of her work four years ago.

Melissa Anderson recently wrote about No Home Movie’s screening at the New York Film Festival, here, noting that Akerman speaks to her mother, over Skype: “I want to show that there is no distance in the world.”

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