“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
Today Icarus Films releases the DVD of Chantal Akerman’s film FROM THE EAST.
FROM THE EAST retraces a journey from the end of summer to deepest winter, from East Germany, across Poland and the Baltics, to Moscow. It is a voyage Chantal Akerman wanted to make shortly after the collapse of the Soviet bloc “before it was too late,” reconstructing her impressions in the manner of a documentary on the border of fiction.
By filming “everything that touched me,” Akerman sifts through and fixes upon sounds and images as she follows the thread of this subjective crossing. Without dialogue or commentary, FROM THE EAST is a cinematographic elegy.
Born in Brussels, Belgium in 1950, Chantal Akerman is a filmmaker whose work gives new meaning to the term “independent film.” An Akerman film is an exercise in pure independence, pure creativity, and pure art. The viewer must give him- or herself over completely to the experience of the film, to watch with open eyes and an open mind. To label Akerman’s work “minimalist” or “structuralist” or “feminist” is to miss most of what she is about. Strong themes in her films include women at work and at home, women’s relationships to men, women, and children, food, love, sex, romance, art, and storytelling. Each Akerman film is a world unto itself and demands to be explored on its own terms. Her films are the subject of two recent books: Identity and Memory: The Films of Chantal Akerman by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster and Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everday by Ivone Margulies.
The video above is a recording of a talk by Chantal Akerman at MIT in May, 2008.
Melissa Anderson also wrote a nice piece on the film for Artforum.