PRINT January 2016

J. Hoberman

Chantal Akerman News from Home, 1977, 16 mm, color, sound, 89 minutes.

THE FIRST FILM by Chantal Akerman I ever saw was News from Home (1977). In some ways, it remains my favorite: Her vision of Manhattan as a succession of shabby, geometrically framed streetscapes just knocked me out.

Jackie Raynal (then programming the Bleecker Street Cinema in Greenwich Village, where I would finally catch the already-legendary Jeanne Dielman a year later) projected News from Home for me in her apartment in the autumn of 1977, and, because it was the French version, she provided a rough translation of the voice-over—the pleading, wheedling, repetitive letters written to Chantal by her mother in Brussels, read by the filmmaker in a hurried, largely uninflected tone that was often swallowed up by clamorous ambient sound.

Although the letters were from 1972, the footage was shot by Babette Mangolte, the cinematographer on Jeanne Dielman, during the bicentennial

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