Chantal Akerman, From Here (2010)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

Original Title: Chantal Akerman, de cá

, 2010. , . Screenplay by . Cinematography by , Gustavo Beck. Produced by Gustavo Beck. Film Editing by Gustavo Beck, .

An hour long interview with the now late, always great filmmaker is recorded in a film that, since the director’s untimely passing in 2015, is a cherishable record of her talking about her career. Filmed in a very Akerman-appropriate single, static shot, set at a distance from where she sits, the image has us viewing her through a doorway while her interviewer, Leonardo Luiz Ferreira, remains obscured.

She is forthcoming about her perspectives on cinema, her working process (men, she says, are industrious about getting work done every day, for her as a woman it’s a more fluid process), her experiences trying to go mainstream in Hollywood (a screenplay that never materialized after too much producer interference) and the noted influences (Michael Snow, Jonas Mekas, Jean-Luc Godard) that got her career underway. Akerman’s cinema is determinedly uncommercial, even when it tries not to be, and the intensity of her experiments might lead one to expect a self-important, austere interview subject, but what she reveals is a capricious sense of humour and a mischievous disregard for the rules: at one point she pulls out a cigarette from her purse and, despite being told she cannot smoke in that room, lights it and insists that old buildings have survived plenty of cigarettes in the past and can handle one more.

Ferreira and Gustavo Beck’s decision to leave the interview unedited doesn’t always pay off, a great deal of the questions aren’t that incisive and it’s to her credit that Akerman remains so congenial and open to someone who isn’t exactly challenging her with his boilerplate inquiries (perhaps he meant to focus on the basics as a way to provide a primer for those uninitiated into her world, but his questions are also not comprehensive enough about her career to justify this).

In terms of the information it contains, it’s unlikely that Akerman’s fans will find much here that they don’t already know (she repeated her theory of her feelings about time on film in another filmed interview), but it’s a lovely opportunity to bask in her presence and enjoy, not just her genius, but the sparkle of her personality as well.

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