top of page
Chantal Akerman: Her First Look Behind the Camera + Là-bas

May 11, 2024

Chantal Akerman: Her First Look Behind the Camera + Là-bas

(Dir. Chantal Akerman, 1967/2006)

Los Angeles premiere!






2220 Arts + Archives
2220 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg
Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg

About the program:

Unknown until recently, these four 8mm films were discovered in 2021 in the collection of the Royal Film Archive of Belgium. Shot by Chantal Akerman during the summer of 1967 in Brussels and Knokke to enroll at the INSAS film school, which she left a few months later, these four shorts precede Saute ma ville (1968), the director's first known and recognized film in her established filmography. 

Across the shorts, Akerman films the Foire de Midi, a fair that takes place every summer in Brussels, as well as the courtyard of the Hôtel de Clèves-Ravenstein, where by chance, 50 years later, the Chantal Akerman Foundation was created. Meanwhile, on the Belgian coast in Knokke, Marilyn Watelet, Akerman's childhood friend with whom she founded the production company Paradise Films in the 1970s, and her own mother Natalia Akerman, become the protagonists of a short fiction in two parts that takes place in the shops of the seaside resort.

Followed by:

Là-bas (Dir. Chantal Akerman, 2006, 78 min) | Introduced by Nina Menkes

According to Akerman, she never planned to make a film in Israel. She was convinced that neutrality does not exist and that her subjectivity would get in her way. She was sure she would only be able to reflect on 'the Israel question' while she was outside the country.

It was only when she taught at the University of Tel Aviv, picked up a camera and 'found' suitable images that she decided to make a film. Akerman spends a brief period on her own in an apartment by the sea in Tel Aviv. She takes the chamber play to its ultimate form: it is almost entirely chamber. She films from the apartment and in her narration she talks about her family, her Jewish identity and her childhood. She wonders whether normal everyday life is possible in this place and whether filming is a realistic option. Akerman does not film here with any intentions defined in advance. She wants to be as open and blank as possible to ensure that things take their own course.

TRT: 94 min

In person: Nina Menkes

"[Là-bas is] one of the great documentary self-portraits." —Richard Brody, The New Yorker

"Nothing moved me more [this year] than the four four-minute films that Chantal Akerman shot in 1967—a year before Saute ma ville—as her application to the INSAS in Brussels." —Pedro Costa, Films in Frame

"It's impossible to look at Là-bas and not recall the wall of windows and the changing light in Michael Snow's Wavelength... Akerman takes the aesthetic strategies of the minimalists and marries them to the humanist content that they suppressed." —Amy Taubin, Film Comment

"[Akerman's film school shorts] are small exercises, they “tell” us nothing, they’re not really about anything. What the films mainly reveal is a determinate pleasure in filmmaking, in the art of looking, and in the making and organising of image. Play is at once form and content." —Gerard-Jan Claes, Sabzian

"A remarkable find... As these fleeting shorts unfold, one is inevitably and acutely aware of a relation between these early outings and the incredibly rich career that would follow, a relation that is no doubt tied, if not reducible to, the historiographical reality that the past is always seen from the vantage of the present." —Kate Rennebohm, Cinema Scope

(Available to download after screening date)

bottom of page