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Eclipse Series 19: Chantal Akerman in the Seventies

Genres: Drama, Criterion Collection, Short Film, 70s, France, Silent, Eclipse Series, Boxed Sets

Cast: Aurore Clement, Chantal Akerman, Claire Wauthion, Helmut Griem, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Niels Arestrup

Director: Chantal Akerman

Synopsis: Over the past four decades, Belgian director Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles) has created one of cinema's most distinctive bodies of work—formally daring, often autobiographical films about people and places, time and space. In this collection, we present the early films that put her on the map: intensely personal, modernist investigations of cities, history, family, and sexuality, made in the 1970s in the United States and Europe and strongly influenced by the New York experimental film scene. Bold and iconoclastic, these five films pushed boundaries in their day and continue to have a profound influence on filmmakers all over the world.

LA CHAMBRE (1972, Silent, 11min) : In this early short film, we see the furniture and clutter of one small room in an apartment become the subject of a moving still life—with Akerman herself staring back at us. This breakthrough formal experiment is the first film the director made in New York.

HOTEL MONTEREY (1972, Silent, 62 min): Under Akerman';s watchful eye, a cheap New York hotel glows with mystery and unexpected beauty, its corridors, elevators, rooms, windows, and occasional tenants framed as though part of an Edward Hopper tableau.

NEWS FROM HOME (1976, French w/ English Subs, 89 mins): Letters from Akerman's mother are read over a series of elegantly composed shots of 1976 New York, where our (unseen) filmmaker and protagonist has relocated. Akerman's unforgettable time capsule of the city is also a gorgeous meditation on urban alienation and personal and familial disconnection.

JE TU IL ELLE (1974, B/W, French w/ English Subs, 86 min): In her sexually provocative first feature, Akerman stars as a nameless, rootless young woman who leaves self-imposed isolation to embark on a road trip that leads to lonely love affairs with a male truck driver and a former girlfriend. With its famous real-time sexual encounter and its daring minimalist plot, Je Tu Il Elle is Akerman's most audaciously erotic film.

LES RENDEZ-VOUS D'ANNA (1978, French w/ English Subs, 127 min): In one of Akerman's most penetrating character studies, Anna, an accomplished filmmaker (played by Aurore Clément), makes her way through a series of anonymous European cities to promote her latest movie. Through a succession of eerie, exquisitely shot brief encounters—with men and women, family and strangers—we come to see her emotional and physical detachment from the world.

Eclipse is a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions. Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer.

Language: Various

Country of Origin: United States of America, Belgium (French), France, Germany

Production Year: 1978


  • "Chantal Akerman is arguably the most inportant European director of her generation.", J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

Eclipse Series 19: Chantal Akerman in the Seventies
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