Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

The Films of Chantal Akerman:
Chantal Akerman is perhaps the most important feminist filmmaker in Europe today. Born in 1950 in Brussels, Akerman learned filmmaking essentially on her own and had completed her first film , Saute Ma Ville, by the time she was 18 years old. In 1971 she came to the United States where an encounter with the work of Michael Snow constituted the second decisive influence on her work, after Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot Le Fou. She recognized in Snow's work the "cinematographic language" she wanted to use, expanding the notion of cinema beyond the limitations of narrative form. We will be showing Akerman's Saute Ma Ville and Je, Tu, Il, Elle on Thursday, May 22

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
"Three days in the life of a forty-year-old bourgeoise widow are depicted in three hours and fifteen minutes of film. We watch Jeanne Dielman perform the endlessly repetitious, robotized routines she requires to maintain her fusty home and care for her pampered, sullen son, structured and precisely timed activities which include prostituting herself each afternoon in her own tidy bedroom after she puts the potatoes on to boil and before her boy returns from school. Our focus is on the intricacies of movement, the turning on and off of lights, the rinsing of dishes, the opening and shutting of cupboards. And so thoroughly familiar have we become, half way through the film, with the structure of this woman's life that an excruciating, Hitchcock-like tension emerges when Dielman simply forgets to put the lid on her cash kitty, or to turn off a light, when the potatoes begin to burn... in short, when Jeanne begins to fall apart. What might have been a film as tedious as the life it depicts is a tight, engrossing drama, what Manny Farber and Patricia Patterson call 'kitchen without kitsch,' and a masterpiece of avant-garde cinema." --Judy Bloch.

Jeanne Dielman was produced entirely by a woman's film crew. Chantal Akerman has said: "I wanted to show in this film a woman's life. People know what women do, they talk about it, but when they film it, it is always indicated by ellipsis, it is suggested - it is never shown. I show it in all its real duration; the movements are carried through to the end; for example in the preparation of the meal, the potatoes are peeled, washed and cooked. For the veal cutlets, I omit nothing from the meat market to the stove." Akerman rejects any suggestion of naturalism in her film. "By means of a very stylized image, I want to reach the very essence of reality," she says. Critics have called Jeanne Dielman "the first hyper-realist film of European cinema."

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