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Chantal Akerman's News from Home

Chantal Akerman's News from Home

News from Home, by Chantal Akerman

Sunday, July 10, 2016, 7:30pm

Los Angeles Filmforum presents

Chantal Akerman’s NEWS FROM HOME

Part of


At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90028

Introduction by Bérénice Reynaud

In a coda to the springtime series CHANTAL AKERMAN: CONTRE L’OUBLI/AGAINST OBLIVION, Filmforum holds a repeat screening of the sublime NEWS FROM HOME, for those who missed it last time, and those who need to see it again, which includes, we would think, everyone who has seen it before. 

“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

“Chantal Akerman’s News from Home unfolds in a series of exactingly composed shots of New York streets in the 1970s, when Manhattan was a borough of bialys, not Cronuts; of decay, not decadence. This is cinematic beauty on an elemental level, with cinema as the recording of what will one day be gone and the beauty as a presence that announces its disappearance. There is no story. The shots are long, but mere glimpses of the world. If the film stock had been exposed one minute earlier or later, everything would be different. Yet News from Home is more than pure capture. After a time, a woman’s thin voice is heard over images of American-made cars riding long and low over potholed streets. The woman reads letters from Brussels, bringing news of brief jaunts to the seashore, a cousin’s wedding or a father’s health—simple letters from a mother worried about her daughter in New York City, alluding to twenty dollars slipped in the envelope and the hope of a prompt reply. Akerman is the daughter and Brussels is home.

News from Home is a gorgeous enigma, a simple formula that causes one to reel with emotion.”

  -- Nicholas Elliott, BOMB Magazine,

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 OBLIVIVION 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).



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


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 and Veggie Cloud, which mainly ran in April 2016.

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.

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news from home

News from Home, by Chantal Akerman

News from Home, by Chantal Akerman

(US/France, 1977, color, sound, 16mm screening from DCP, 86 minutes)

Directed by Chantal Akerman

Cinematography Babette Mangolte & Jim Asbell