Famed director featured in screening
But Akerman is more than just a “feminist filmmaker.”
Her work goes beyond the labels she’s been given by critics, such as “minimalist,” “structuralist” and “formalist.”
“When people ask me if I am a feminist filmmaker, I reply I am a woman and I also make films,” she told the BBC recently in an interview after the release of “La Captive.”
Twelve of Akerman’s films will be screened, starting next Friday, at the Seoul Art Cinema in Nakwon-dong. Titled “Retrospective on Chantal Akerman,” the series of recent and classic films highlights one of the most influential cinema artists in the world. The Village Voice in New York called her “the most important European director of her generation.”
She is often regarded as a female successor to filmmaker Jean Luc Godard, whose work has had a tremendous influence on Akerman’s films.
Indeed, legend has it that Akerman’s passion for film was sparked at the age of 15, when she came across “Pierrot le Fou” by Godard after wandering into a movie theater in her native Brussels. She saw that filmmaking could be done in a small-scale, intimate atmosphere. Akerman, 55, who now lives in Paris, has said her films have also been influenced by experimental filmmakers of the ’60s, such as Michael Snow and Andy Warhol.
Yet Akerman’s vision is much more intimate and rich, critics have said. Almost nothing happens in her films, but she uses silence more effectively than dialogue.
Indeed, Akerman’s films use metaphors relating to war, history and memory. Born to Polish Holocaust survivors in Brussels in 1950, a number of her films explore identity, myth and storytelling from the view of the diaspora.
In “From The East,” she retraces her journey from East Germany across Poland and the Baltics to Moscow in 1992, after the end of the Cold War. The travelogue, which presents a “fictionalized documentary,” captures a personalized view of the changing landscape of the people, nature, roads and buildings in Eastern Europe, depicting an atmospheric image of its history.
“La Captive” is one of Akerman’s most talked-about films. The story depicts a lesbian love affair involving a woman who is also dating a man. “The Eighties,” a documentary, traces the making of “Golden Eighties: Window Shopping,” a film which took Akerman three years to complete due to budget constraints.
“I, You, She, He,” the director’s debut feature from 1974, shows Akerman starring as the female lead. The film was shot while she held a clerical job and worked as a waitress.
by Park Soo-mee
The “Retrospective on Chantal Akerman” begins Feb. 3 and runs through Feb. 14. The cost is 6,000 won (about $6). For more information, call 02-741-9782.