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Akerman Chantal

born in 1950

actress, director, filmmaker, teacher, composer

Chantal Anne Akerman (born 6 June 1950) is a Belgian film director, artist, and professor of film at the European Graduate School.[1] Akerman's best-known film, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), exemplifies a dedication to the ellipses of conventional narrative cinema.

Akerman was born to an observant Jewish family in Brussels, Belgium. Her grandparents and her mother were sent to Auschwitz; only her mother came back. This is a very important factor in her personal experience, and her mother's anxiety is a recurrent theme in her filmography. Akerman claims that, age the age of 15, after viewing Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou (1965), she decided to make movies the same night. At 18 she entered the Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle et des Techniques de Diffusion, a Belgian film school. During her first term, however, Akerman chose to leave and make Saute ma ville, a thirteen-minute black-and-white picture in 35mm. Akerman partially subsidized Saute ma ville from shares she sold on the Antwerp diamond exchange, procuring its remaining budget through clerical work. In 1971, Saute ma ville premiered at the Oberhausen short-film festival.[2] This same year Akerman moved to New York and remained there until 1972.

At Anthology Film Archives in New York, Akerman became impressed by the work of Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Michael Snow, and Andy Warhol. She states that Snow's La Région Centrale introduced her to the relationship between film, time and energy. Her 1972 feature Hotel Monterey and shorts La Chambre 1 and La Chambre 2 reveal structural filmmaking's influence through their usage of extended-duration takes. These protracted shots serve to oscillate the films' images between abstraction and figuration. Akerman's films from this period also signify the start of her collaboration with cinematographer Babette Mangolte.

In 1973, Akerman returned to Belgium and, in 1974, received critical recognition for her feature Je tu il elle. In 1991, she was a member of the jury at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival.


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