×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Chantal Akerman, Feminist Cinema Pioneer, Dies at 65

Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman, known for her experimental films that closely examined women’s lives, died Oct. 5 in Paris. She was 65.

The New York Times reported that she had been hospitalized recently for depression, while France’s Le Monde said she committed suicide. Her parents were Polish Holocaust survivors, and her latest film, “No Home Movie,” is based on conversations between the filmmaker and her late mother. The film screened at Locarno and will show at the New York Film Festival.

Akerman was born in Brussels and was inspired to make films after seeing Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot le Fou” as a teenager. She made her most well-known work in 1975 when she was just 25: The three-hour long “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” follows a housewife in real time and builds to a dramatic ending. It has been called one of the first and greatest feminist films.

Akerman’s work influenced directors, including Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Sally Potter and Michael Haneke. She took a more commercial approach in 1996’s “A Couch in New York,” which starred Juliette Binoche and William Hurt.

Van Sant told France’s Liberation that seeing “Jeanne Dielman” was “one of those experiences that changes the way you think, the way you see, the way you imagine cinema.

The Toronto Film Festival described her influence in a statement: “Daring, original, uncompromising and in all ways radical, Akerman revolutionized the history of cinema not only with her masterpiece ‘Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,’ but also with the sustained urgency of her brilliance. With acknowledged influences from Michael Snow and Godard, Akerman created new formal languages and consistently expanded cinema’s reach with her restless curiosity and willingness to wade into taboo subjects.”

She made her first film, “Saute Ma Ville” (“Blow Up My City”), at the age of 18. In the black-and-white short, she destroys her kitchen, then blows it up with gas. In her 40-plus films, she often repeated themes of alienation with echoes of the trauma of the Holocaust. Among her other films were Joseph Conrad adaptation “Almayer’s Folly,” Marcel Proust adaptation “The Captive,” “News From Home” and “A Whole Night.”

More Film

  • Glass Movie

    'Glass' to Rank in Top 3 MLK Debuts With $48 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is on its way to a solid debut with an estimated $48 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. A sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2017’s “Split,” the Universal superhero thriller should bring in around $41 million from 3,841 domestic locations over the Friday through Sunday period. The estimates are [...]

  • China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to

    China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to Hit French Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Midnight Blur Films has signed a deal with French distributor Les Acacias to release Chinese arthouse drama “Three Adventures of Brooke” in France this year, the Chinese production company told Variety on Saturday. A release date has yet to be set for the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and stars Chinese newcomer Xu Fangyi [...]

  • Noe Debre On His Directorial Debut,

    Top French Screenwriter Noe Debre Makes Directorial Debut, ‘The Seventh Continent’

    This last half-decade, few French screenwriters have run up such an illustrious list of co-write credits as Noé Debré. Thomas Bedigain’s writing partner on Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Deephan,” Debra co-penned Bedigain’s own debut, “The Cowboys,” “Racer and the Jailbird,” by Michael Roskam, and “Le Brio,” directed by Yvan Attal. He has now [...]

  • Julien Trauman Talks Survival-Thriller Short ‘At

    Julien Trauman on Survival-Thriller Short ‘At Dawn’

    France’s Julien Trauman has never been afraid to play with genre, and in his latest short, the MyFrenchFilmFestival participant “At Dawn,” he employs aspects of psychological thriller, survival, coming-of-age and fantasy filmmaking. “At Dawn” kicks off the night before when a group of teens, one about to leave town, are imbibing heavily around a beach-side [...]

  • ‘Flowers’ Director Baptiste Petit-Gats Interview

    Baptiste Petit-Gats: ‘Editing Taught Me How to Write for Film’

    France’s Baptiste Petit-Gats is an hyphenate that keeps himself plenty busy editing, photographing, writing and directing. The bulk of his editing gigs up until now have been in documentary film work, evident in the way he shot and edited his own short film, participating in the MyFrenchFilmFestival, “Flowers.” In the film, Petit-Gats tells the heartbreaking [...]

  • Fanny Litard, Jérémy Trouilh on ‘Blue

    France’s Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh Discuss MyFFF Suburban Fable ‘Blue Dog’

    French filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh met at university while studying political science before diverging towards separate careers. Trouilh trained in documentary filmmaking; Liatard worked on urban artistic projects in Lebanon and France. They eventually joined back up to film three shorts: “Gagarine,” a Sundance Channel Shorts Competition Jury Prize winner in 2016; “The [...]

  • MFFF: 'The Collection' Director Blanchard Readies

    'The Collection' Director Emmanuel Blanchard Readies First Feature

    Paris-born Emmanuel Blanchard studied and then taught history before becoming a documentary filmmaker responsible for films such as “Bombing War,” “Le diable de la République” and “Après la guerre.” He’s currently directing “Notre-Dame de Paris”, a 90-minute animated part-doc, part-fiction film on the building of the world-famous Paris cathedral. Competing at MyFFF, “The Collection” is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content