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No Home Movie

Chantal Akerman
Belgium, France 2015 / 115’

In this cinematic will and testament, Chantal Akerman, the Belgian structuralist who died in 2015, trains her hyperreal minimalist eye on her own mother. With the setting confined to a Brussels apartment, she shows the final months in the life of Natalia, a Polish-Jewish émigré and Auschwitz survivor, without directly relaying her life story or describing her relationships with her daughters outright. The film opens with an awe-inducing, several-minutes-long static take of a partially desiccated tree in a wasteland, tousled by wind gusts. Several times the camera returns to the desert as if to release the breath held back by an overabundance of emotions. A joyous atmosphere pervades a home lighted by the whiteness of furniture and walls. Intimate conversations between mother and daughter go from discussing the present toward the past, from amusing anecdotes to fatalistic conclusions. They touch on topics of importance in the director's work, such as home, emigration, identity, the female body - and point to the biographical source of these themes. As a counterpoint to No Home Movie critics suggest Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, the masterpiece of cinematic modernism, which Akerman made in her youth. Similarly to that film, here, the director also suggests that only precise observation of ostensible permanence can expose the decay of reality.

Agnieszka Szeffel


Seville European Film Festival 2015 - New Waves Non-Fiction Award

Chantal Akerman

(1950 - 2015) Daughter of Jewish emigrants from Poland, was one of the most distinguished European avant-garde artists. She was influenced by the cinema of Jean-Luc Godard and relations with New York underground directors. There, impressed by the works of Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas and particularly Michael Snow, she made her first feature Hôtel Monterey (1972). Later on, in Europe, she directed feminist films, which experiment with narrative and are shot in slow rhythm with long takes.

Selected filmography

1972 Hôtel Monterey

1974 Ja, ty, on, ona / Je, tu, il, elle / I, You, He, She,

1978 Spotkania Anny / Les Rendez-vous d’Anna / Meetings with Anna

1983 Un jour Pina a demandé / One Day Pina Asked Me

1989 Histoires d’Amérique / American Stories, Food, Family and Philosophy

1991 Nuit et jour / Night and Day

1996 Kanapa w Nowym Jorku / Un divan a New York / A Couch in New York

2000 Uwięziona / La captive / The Captive

2004 Jutro przeprowadzka / Demain on déménage / Tomorrow We Move

2011 Szaleństwo Almayera / La folie Almayer / Almayer’s Folly

Cast & Crew

director Chantal Akerman
screenplay Chantal Akerman
cinematography Chantal Akerman
editing Claire Atherton
sound Chantal Akerman
cast Chantal Akerman, Natalia Akerman, Sylvaine Akerman,
producer Chantal Akerman, Patrick Quinet, Serge Zeitoun
production Liaison Cinématographique, Paradise Films
sales Doc & Film International
language French, English, Spanish
colouration colour