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Chantal Akerman’s Sud (South)

Chantal Akerman’s Sud (South)

Sud (South), by Chantal Akerman, courtesy of Icarus Films

Part of
at The Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90028

Completed in 1999, Chantal Akerman’s Sud (South) is a searing examination of the hate crime killing of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas. Tracing the terrain of Jasper, Sud intertwines the city’s landscape, interviews and footage of Byrd’s funeral.

Describing the project Akerman wrote: “How do the trees and the whole natural environment evoke so intensely death, blood and the weight of history? How does the present call up the past? And how does this past, with a mere gesture or a simple regard, haunt and torment you as you wander along an empty cotton field or a dusty country road?”

A difficult, important film, Sud poses Akerman’s questions without fully answering them, seemingly acknowledging the inability of landscape or interviews to fully explain the genesis of such profound violence.

"Conjures the ghosts of the hate crimes and lynchings that have plagued that part of the U.S. for decades. [SOUTH] makes its sorrowful points succinctly." —Variety

Comparable in force and originality to Godard or Fassbinder, Chantal Akerman is arguably the most important European director of her generation." —J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

Tickets: $10 general, $6 students/seniors; free for Filmforum members.
Available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at
or at the door.


Special Thanks: Sylviane Akerman, Claire Atherton, Mathieu Fournet, Amélie Garin-Davet, Séverine Madinier, Nicola Mazzanti, Adam Roberts, Véronique Siklosi, Marilyn Watelet
CHANTAL AKERMAN: CONTRE L'OUBLI/AGAINST OBLIVION was curated by Bérénice Reynaud (REDCAT), Alison Kozberg and Adam Hyman (Los Angeles Filmforum), William Morris (Cinefamily), Martha Kirszenbaum (Fahrenheit) and Courtney Stephens (VEGGIECLOUD & Human Resources).

Sud (South)
Chantal Akerman, 1999, color, sound, 70 minutes.


When Chantal Akerman (June 6, 1950-October 5, 2015) died last October, she left behind a prolific and singular oeuvre. A truly independent filmmaker, she used to write or co-write all her screenplays, and her films outline an autobiography of sorts. She worked in a variety of formats, exploring both documentary, fiction and the personal essay form – in most than 60 works: 18 features, countless shorts and featurettes, and a dozen multiple-screen installations that were often variations of her single-channel films – always mixing high art with popular culture, minimalist rigor with physical exuberance. Through this multiplicity of formats, though, a unique tone, the specific quality of the gaze, an inimitable mastery of the mise en scène constituted a style that can be immediately spotted.

    Akerman fell in love with cinema when she saw Godard’s Pierrot le fou as a teenager. At 18 she started to make films, with the irreverent Saute Ma Ville (1968), and it is at 25, with Jeanne Dielman (1975), that she became a household name, de facto defining an era, influencing filmmakers as different as Bela Tarr, Gus Van Sant and Nina Menkes. Unlike them, though, she frequently appeared in her own films, racing, meditating, writing, sleeping, stumbling into things, singing even – a “female Charlie Chaplin,” as she used to say.

    Her presence was the index of a new way of performing femininity, as well as queerness and the anguish felt by the children of Holocaust survivors. Hers was an unclassifiable body willfully exploding the boundaries of sex, race, ethnicity, genre, language, and geography – or, at the border of the image, at the border between documentary and fiction (to allude to the title of one of her installations), as an inimitable voice, talking and singing, the thinly melodious voice of a child, later made husky by the smoke of a thousand cigarettes.

    As such, through the audacity and formal rigor of her cinematic language, she struck a cord with generations of spectators. Her untimely death became an Internet event. Thousands of people, most of them very young, were clamoring how much her work had resonated through them, how much they were missing her.


    This screening series gathered the representatives of several venues across town (REDCAT, Los Angeles Filmforum, Cinefamily, Fahrenheit, Veggie Cloud, Human Resources) that are dedicated to render a proper homage to this major film director, by securing newly-created DCPs, restored prints (when available) and well-preserved digital files to exhibit Akerman’s images and sounds in their pristine beauty, and to present a survey of her work as exhaustive as possible considering the current state and availability of some films. A companion exhibition is concurrently organized at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

These programs are organized in collaboration with Paradise Films and Cinémathèque royale de Belgique and presented with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Institut Français and with the support of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Belgium

    Chantal Akerman was born in Brussels, capital of Belgium – whose gray winters, cloudy skies and hazy light were once captured by Flemish painting. Her parents were Holocaust survivors from Poland. They did not care about cinema, and cared even less about passing that painful part of Jewish history to their children. Yet this “nothing” they refused to talk about became the core of Akerman’s inspiration.

    Many of her films are about a girl/a woman whose desires, passions, longings, and obsession with an unspoken past are too big to be contained in Brussels alone. Women run away, cut classes, hitch-hike, sleeplessly walk the streets at night, love two people at the same time, strive to marry the wrong person, stalk female ex-lovers, commit murders, travel throughout Europe, go to America, to Eastern Europe, to Asia, illegally cross borders – in situations that go from the banal to the surreal.

    A seductive emotional violence bursts at the seams. Language often drifts, a love letter turns into an obsessive diary or a schmaltzy song, a simple note into a surrealist catalogue, a word of consolation into a list of possible catastrophes. The excess contained in Akerman’s signature frontal shots pours out in language, in pleasure.

"In a beautiful interview conducted in 2011, film scholar Nicole Brenez pointed to Akerman that she always talked about herself as of a daughter/girl (it’s the same word in French), that the heroine of Almayer’s Folly was called Nina, i.e. little girl. 'I never grew up, responded Akerman. I have remained a girl, my mother’s daughter.' No Home Movie, her last film, dedicated to her mother as was, forty years earlier, News from Home, reiterated this one last time.”
– Les Inrockuptibles

Other Screenings of Chantal Akerman’s Films in Los Angeles

Be sure to make careful note of the venue

Thu March 31: From the Other Side
at Veggie Cloud, 5210 Monte Vista, Los Angeles 90042
"Agua Prieta and Douglas are two small towns planted on either side of the border between Mexico and the United States. Akerman alternately films these neighboring towns, so near and yet so far, separated by an insurmountable physical obstacle of barbed wire, gates and iron. Despite the danger, hundreds of Mexicans try to cross illegally every year. Exploring the border as a symbol of North-South divide and the ravages of globalization, Akerman nonetheless captures the desert, the horizon and the wide-open space - allowing audiences to make up their minds. After From the East and South, she concludes her documentary trilogy with a poignant, lyrical and provocative film."
- Festival international nouveau Cinéma nouveaux Médias Montréal
"A spare, painterly and scrupulously unsentimental look. Both eerily beautiful and filled with a quiet compassion."
- Dave Kehr, The New York Times

Sat April 2: News From Home & I Don't Belong Anywhere
at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-2510,
News From Home, 1977, DCP (Restoration by Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique), 85 min.
"Why don't you send us a photo?" asks Chantal Akerman's mother in one of the love-anxiety lettres she sends her 21 year old daughter, newly relocated from Belgium to New York City. Mother longs for a picture of her daughter-a visual reassurance-and perhaps she gets one, but the audience will not. News From Home, a beautiful meditation on New York, alienation, and intimacy, passes without a glimpse of Akerman, despite her acute presence. Instead, Akerman shares her persistent, thoughtful gaze with the viewer, her contemplative lense affixing itself to the movements of New York City, with the non-diegetic voice of her mother's letters laid over the images. Akerman steps back, letting the viewer stand in her place.
I Don't Belong Anywhere, Dir. Marianne Lambert, 2015, DCP (Courtesy of Icarus Films), 68 min.
A solid primer for the uninitiated and a welcome review for the most devoted of viewers, I Don't Belong Anywhere is an impressionistic tour of Chantal Akerman's varied yet consistently astounding body of work (comprised of 40+ films!), which-despite constant topical and geographical shifts-consistently lingers on the same essential themes, brought to the fore in candid interviews with Chantal and her long-time editor Claire Atherton. Shy and humble, but also clearly a force to be reckoned with, Chantal emerges as her film language does, each bit of her process suggesting an additional layer of precision to her work.

Sun April 3: South (Sud)
Los Angeles Filmforum at the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90028
(323) 377-7238
South (Sud) 1999, color, sound, 70 minutes.
Completed in 1999, Chantal Akerman's Sud (South) is a searing examination of the hate crime killing of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas. Tracing the terrain of Jasper, Sud intertwines the city's landscape, interviews and footage of Byrd's funeral.
Describing the project Akerman wrote: "How do the trees and the whole natural environment evoke so intensely death, blood and the weight of history? How does the present call up the past? And how does this past, with a mere gesture or a simple regard, haunt and torment you as you wander along an empty cotton field or a dusty country road?"
A difficult, important film, Sud poses Akerman's questions without fully answering them, seemingly acknowledging the inability of landscape or interviews to fully explain the genesis of such profound violence.

Mon April 4: Against Oblivion, I Am Hungry, I Am Cold; La Captive
at REDCAT, 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 237.2800
La Captive
preceded by:
Against Oblivion & I Am Hungry, I Am Cold
Presented as part of the citywide retrospective in memory of Chantal Akerman (1950-2015), this program starts with a short piece commissioned by Amnesty International, Against Oblivion (Contre l'oubli, 1991, 3.40 min.) about the murder of Salvadorean union activist Febe Elisabeth Velásquez. In I Am Hungry, I Am Cold (J'ai Faim, J'ai Froid, 1984, 13 min.), a pair of runaways scamper across Paris, practice kissing, sing for their supper, and nonchalantly cast aside desiring men. In La Captive (1999, 112 min.), Akerman's mesmerizing take on Proust's La Prisonnière, a young man's infatuation with a woman (Sylvie Testud) traps them in a cycle of unfulfilled desire.

Wed April 6: Saute ma Ville; Hotel Monterey
at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-2510,
Saute ma Ville, 1968, DCP (Restoration by Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique), 13 min
A young woman cheerfully locks herself into her apartment-lets her cat out the window, seals the door and window with masking tape, washes the floor and walls with chemicals, eats spaghetti, dances in front of her mirror, turns up the gas on her stove-and turns her room into a pipe bomb. At eighteen years old, Chantal Akerman has already found her lifelong fixation on defining the modern condition through its banal material circumstances, her gleeful absurdity belying a graveness beyond her years.
Hotel Monterey, 1972, DCP (Restoration by Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique), 65 min.
Hotel Monterey is a residence hotel in New York on which Akerman and art house cinematographer Babette Mangolte situate their gaze. The result, less a film than an arcane out-of-body experience, transforms this run-down Manhattan hotel into a hypnotic netherworld. The lobby is clean with granite floors. Men wear hats. Paint peels. People enter and exit an elevator. Chantal has a preternatural knack for drawing the eye to what it rarely sees: the negative spaces between rooms and furniture, moments of routine frozen outside of time. By capturing everyday life through mirrors and inhuman angles, and magnifying obscure urban signposts into cryptic hieroglyphs, Chantal transforms the regular events of a single-room-occupancy hotel into dystopian science-fiction.

Sat April 9: Golden Eighties
at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-2510,
Golden Eighties, 1986, 35mm (Courtesy of Paradise Films/Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique), 96 min.
As opposed to the somber and quiet world of Jeanne Dielman, Golden Eighties joyously wears its melodramatic heart on its sleeve, as it follows the ups and downs of three women vying for the same boy. Set in a candy-colored shopping mall, and written by an absurd dream team-Jean Gruault (Jules and Jim, Paris Belongs to Us), Leora Barish (Desperately Seeking Susan), Cahiers du Cinéma critic Pascal Bonitzer, Henry Bean (A Couch in New York), and Akerman herself- Golden Eighties is a celebration like none we've ever seen. Absolutely bursting with catchy songs full of pithy wit and fire (written by Akerman & Marc Hérouet), and exacting performances from Delphine Seyrig & French pop icon Lio, Golden Eighties is Akerman's loving (and slyly critical) tribute to Hollywood Musicals, and inarguable proof that flawless silliness belongs in the filmmaking lexicon.

Sun April 10: The Meetings of Anna
at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-2510,
Les Rendez-vous d'Anna (The Meetings of Anna), 1978, 35mm (Restored by Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique), 120 min.
In a series of ethereal urban tableaux, a young filmmaker named Anna glides by strangers, lovers, and friends with commensurate aloofness as she travels with her new film through Western Europe. Like Akerman, Anna seems to belong nowhere, equally out of place at home and abroad, amongst domestic women of past generations, and with the ambivalent, disaffected men of the new one. Her meetings reveal a diaspora of Europeans still coming to uneasy terms with the war and the modern era, as well as layers of her own peculiar estrangement - from her sexuality, her heritage, and her modernity as a woman. Anna feels like the personification of Akerman's camera: elegant, sort of alien, and obsessed with basic quotidian detail (when asked "how was Germany," Anna answers: "There were curtains on all the windows, tulips on every table, and it was full of Germans"). Anna's ghostly, geometric worldview is so distinct and persuasive that it is likely to follow you out of the theater.

Tues April 12: Le 15/8
at Human Resources Los Angeles, 410 Cottage Home St., Los Angeles CA, 90012

Wed April 13: Histoires d'Amérique
at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-2510,
Histoires d'Amérique (American Stories/Food, Family and Philosophy) 1989, DCP (Courtesy of Mallia Films), 92 min.
Flipping the final image from News From Home (a slowly-shrinking Manhattan), Histoires d'Amérique instead approaches Manhattan, and with it a subject that informs every film Akerman touched: her Jewish identity. A group of first and second generation Eastern European Jewish immigrants-some professional actors, many non-actors, and a slew of comedians-tell a fragmented cornucopia of stories, along with sketches and jokes (and no shortage of deafening silences), in an informal history of Jewish culture of the last hundred years. Akerman's camera stalks New York, compiling an expressive history not merely with her subjects, but also the city's exteriors.
"A film that deals with the phantom of language, memory, oblivion, the vacuousness of words, American Stories is haunted by the void...Yet void itself has a history - that of the silence of the Holocaust survivors who, to spare their children, have only left them with a Jewish name emptied of its content - a name that burns a hole in the fabric of reality." - Cahiers du cinéma.

Thur April 14: Chantal Akerman by Chantal Akerman, followed by a panel discussion
at Fahrenheit, 2245 East Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90021
(347) 272-7202
Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman, 1996 (courtesy INA) 63 min.
"This thoroughly charming self-portrait makes the perfect introduction to Akerman's life and work. Created for the venerable French television series Cinéma de notre temps, it is made up of two parts. The first features Akerman speaking and reading to the camera, delivering a monologue about the making of the film, Akerman's family and her childhood. The second part of the film consists of dozens of clips highlighting both the dizzying variety of Akerman's work as well as the images and themes that recur. The two parts constitute an autobiography that is thoughtful and thought-provoking, confessional and disarmingly funny." - UCLA Film & Television Archive

Sat April 16: One Day Pina Asked
at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-2510,
Un Jour Pina a demandé (One Day Pina Asked... On Tour with Pina Bausch), 1983, Digibeta (Courtesy of Icarus Films), 57 min.
An encounter between two of the most remarkable female artists of the 20th century, One Day Pina Asked... is a look by Chantal Akerman at the work of choreographer Pina Bausch and her Wuppertal, Germany-based dance company. "This film is more than a documentary on Pina Bausch," a narrator announces at the outset, "it is a journey through her world, through her unwavering quest for love." Capturing the company's striking dances and elaborate stagings over a five-week European tour, Akerman uses "lengthy takes and exacting compositions (two of her stylistic signatures), encouraging us to reflect on how the dancers' bodies give form to Bausch's ideas" (Chicago Reader). The company members describe the development of various dances, and the way that Bausch calls upon them to supply autobiographical details as performances are developed. Akerman also shows us excerpts from performances of Bausch dances, including "Komm Tanz Mit Mir" (Come Dance with Me) (1977), "Nelken" (Carnations) (1982), "Walzer" (1982), and "1980" (1980), all recorded with Akerman's singular visual touch.

Sun April 17: From The East
at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-2510 ,
D'Est (From The East), 1993, 16mm (Presented with support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Institut Français), 107 min.
Traveling and documenting "everything that touched her," from East Germany to Russia, immediately after the fall of the Soviet Bloc, Chantal Akerman paints a portrait of city streets, changing seasons, and the muffled footsteps of people traversing a landscape "no longer monolithically impersonal" (Francette Pacteau)-a landscape taking its first melancholic breaths as it emerges from the rubble. Akerman keeps people nameless and music minimal, allowing spaces to come alive of their own accord, patiently and hauntingly forming a true cinematic dirge for the people, places, and stories of Eastern Europe.
"Taking her relentless cameras from East Germany to Russia, Akerman delivers an impressionistic report from the new front. Displaying her distinctive visual style, influenced by structuralism and minimalism, her journal unfolds as a procession of postcards ...Akerman captures the essence, if not the historical particulars, of a region on the move." - Emanuel Levy, Variety

Wed April 19: La Chambre Je tu il Elle
at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-2510 ,
La Chambre & Je tu il elle
         La Chambre 1972, DCP (Restoration by Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique), 11 min.
The experience of watching La Chambre-with uneasiness, a flood of contradictory thoughts, meditation, daydreaming-becomes its subject, as the camera silently roams Akerman's apartment in a moving still life, in spirit more like a piece of music than a fragment of narrative film. It's suspenseful-you might be surprised to find yourself anxiously awaiting the moment when Chantal finally eats the apple or when the camera gently stops and pans in the opposite direction.
         Je tu il elle, 1974, DCP (Restoration by Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique), 86 min.
Following Akerman's wildly formative New York years (where she was drawn to Anthology Film Archives and the films of Michael Snow, Yvonne Rainer, and Jonas Mekas) she returned to Belgium and crafted two of her greatest works: Jeanne Dielman & Je tu il elle. Freed from the confines of narrative filmmaking, Je tu il elle sees Akerman beginning to explore the themes that would come to fruition in Jeanne Dielman.
"Akerman's first completed feature is a haunting film-poem about the violence of desire. The filmmaker plays a young woman (I) consumed by depression and unrequited, obsessive feelings for an absent lover (you). She eventually leaves her cramped living space to embark on a strange journey in the heart of the Belgian winter. She meets half-way the sexual fantasies of a seductive trucker (he) before imposing herself on the woman (she) who no longer wants her. Akerman uses her own body as an opaque, alluring signifier for the breakdown of sexual identity. The splendid transgression enacted Je tu il elle was to become a cinematic landmark."
- UCLA Film & Television Archive

Laemmle Theatres will be screening Akerman's NO HOME MOVIE, starting April 22 at the Monica Film Center:
No Home Movie, 2015, 115 min
"At the center of Chantal Akerman's enormous body of work is her mother, a Holocaust survivor who married and raised a family in Brussels. In recent years, the filmmaker has explicitly depicted, in videos, books, and installation works, her mother's life and their own intense connection to each other. No Home Movie is a portrait by Akerman, the daughter, of Akerman, the mother, in the last years of her life. It is an extremely intimate film but also one of great formal precision and beauty, one of the rare works of art that is both personal and universal, and as much a masterpiece as her 1975 career-defining Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles."
- New York Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center

In addition, Cinefamily will have a theatrical run of Chantal Akerman’s last film, No Home Movie, from May 13 to 19.
611 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036, (323) 655-2510
This program is supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and Bloomberg Philanthropies. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.

This screening occurs in conjunction with CHANTAL AKERMAN: CONTRE L’OUBLI/AGAINST OBLIVION, a collaboration among Los Angels Filmforum, Cinefamily, Human Resources, REDCAT, Fahrenheit, and Veggie Cloud.

Los Angeles Filmforum is the city’s longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, documentaries, video art, and experimental animation. 2016 is our 41st year.

Coming Soon to Los Angeles Filmforum:
April 17 - Saul Levine
April 24 - David Domingo, super 8 from Spain

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