In CHANTAL AKERMAN, FROM HERE, the renowned Belgian filmmaker sits down for an hour-long conversation about her entire body of work.
Throughout, the camera holds steady from outside an open door. The long, unbroken shot, and the frame-within-a-frame pay homage to Akerman's own unmistakable style ("I need a corridor. I need doors. Otherwise, I can't work", she says). But by shooting her in profile, the filmmakers provide a contrast to the signature frontality of her compositions (one of the many subjects covered in the wide-ranging interview) - an acknowledgement of this portrait's contingency also underlined by the title.
Akerman describes her first experiences with avant-garde film in New York, and, in particular, the lessons she took from the work of Michael Snow. She answers questions about her approach to fiction, documentary, and literary adaptation, covering everything from the early short LA CHAMBRE (1972) to the recent feature LÀ-BAS (2006). She explains her preference for small budgets and small crews, and the paramount importance of instinct and improvisation in her directorial process.
She is nothing if not forthcoming, candidly assessing her successes and failures, including an aborted attempt at writing at Hollywood screenplay. An image emerges of a filmmaker as assured and idiosyncratic as the work suggests. We see that behind Akerman's cinematic innovations there is not only a remarkable intellectual clarity, but an ethical commitment to making films in which the viewer can "feel the time passing-by in your own body", because, she says, "that is the only thing you have: time."
"Fascinating...Elementary, decisive, up to date. Her every word, her choice of adjectives, the tempo of poses, her French accent in English, all count." —Jean-Pierre Rehm, FID Marseille
BAFICI (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Indepdiente), 2010
Festival de Lima, 2010
Iran International Documentary Film Festival, 2010
"Her answers are always candid, at times a little heartbreaking" —Melissa Anderson, Village Voice