Credit: Elizabeth Lennard/Opale/Leemage
The great Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman has died aged 65. Best-known for her three-hour 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, made when she was just 25 years old, Akerman was a groundbreaking figure in feminist and experimental cinema.
Inspired to take up filmmaking by a youthful viewing of Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le fou (1965), Akerman made her debut feature, Je tu il elle, in 1974. Advancing on that film’s experiments with duration, she followed it with Jeanne Dielman, charting the daily routine of a Brussels housewife (Delphine Seyrig). A key experimental work of the 1970s, it was recently voted the 35th best film ever made in a Sight & Sound poll, the highest placement for a film directed by a woman.
Later films include News from Home (1976), Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (1979), Nuit et jour (1991) and D’est (1993). Her Joseph Conrad adaptation Almayer’s Folly screened in the BFI London Film Festival in 2011. More recently, her work has been celebrated in London in a full retrospective organised by the film collective A nos amours, while her latest film, No Home Movie (2015), premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in August.