Chantal Akerman 10: Five short films from the 1980s
J'ai faim, j'ai froid (1984) 12 mins
Two young women at night in Brussels. They finish each other’s sentences, they smoke each other’s cigarettes: they are on the lam together. They are joined at the hip and ready for the challenges of the day—as women in the world—as long as they stick together. Spritely, playful, composed. Akerman has said, in an interview with Nicole Brenez, “My friend and I. A little musical comedy without singing”. Is this film therefore autobiography?
Lettre d'un cinéaste (1984) 9 mins
A filmmaker’s self-portrait, asking hard questions of herself and of us. Invoking Aurore Clément as a kind of stand-in or proxy, a glamorous counterpart to Akerman who sports a drawn-on moustache. What is cinema for? Who is it for? If the Mosaic prohibition on making graven images includes film images, then where does that leave a Jewish filmmaker?
La paresse (1986) 14 mins
A segment on sloth from a German TV commission on the theme ‘Seven Women, Seven Sins’. As Akerman also told Nicole Brenez: ‘Claire (Wieder-Atherton) worked, while I stayed in bed’.
Le marteau (1986) 4 minutes
The hammer is the tool a sculptor uses to chip away at the block. It is the emblematic tool of French artist Jean-Luc Vilmouth. Akerman here instigates a game of musical chairs. The winner is then permitted to hurl the hammer out into the starry night.
Rue Mallet Stevens (1986) 7 mins
In concrete terms, between 1926-27 Robert Mallet-Stevens, architect of modernist inclination, made a set of cubist houses in the 16th Arrondissement, on what was then named Rue Mallet-Stevens. This film, enigmatic, cryptic even, seems set in that very street. A courting—or perhaps parting—couple cling to one another. A car approaches, its radio tuned to a station playing a song from Akerman’s (yet to be realised) film Golden Eighties. What looks like a baby is brought out of a car by night, and taken into an apartment where a woman is playing a cello.
Thanks for financial support from the British Film Institute, Wallonie-Bruxelles International and Film Hub London (managed by Film London).