Week 16/2024

Fans of Chantal Akerman have been spoiled lately with restorations, film screenings, exhibitions and publications. This week, they’re once again in for a treat. On the occasion of the recent Dutch translation of Akerman’s autobiographical book Ma mère rit, Cinema Offoff invites author Niña Weijers, who wrote the introduction to Mijn moeder lacht. The conversation will be followed by two rarely shown films by Akerman: L’Enfant aimé ou je joue à être une femme mariée and Dis-moi. Both films revolve around motherhood, a theme that is central to Mijn moeder lacht and implicitly runs through Akerman’s whole oeuvre.

In Toute une nuit, love inhabits Brussels, its dark streets, taxis and hotel rooms. On a hot summer night, it brings some couples closer together, while driving others further apart. Despite its fragmentary narrative, the film flows, tying together separate elements through continuously changing connections without consolidating into a fixed whole. The mosaic-like form becomes an extension of the characters’ attempts and failures to connect with each other as they move through the night. The screening at CINEMATEK will be preceded by Insomnies, a short film by Samy Szlingerbaum, who collaborated with Akerman and plays a role in Toute une nuit.

Screened by Avila in no less than 12 different film theatres all over Belgium, Akerman’s recently restored Golden Eighties uses comedy to explore love. Set in a shopping mall in Brussels, a place where Akerman herself used to work as a saleswoman, the musical’s bright colours, choreographic movements, uplifting soundtrack and slightly ironic tone break with the minimalist style that defined her previous films. At a time when everyone wanted her to make another Jeanne Dielman, Akerman refused to repeat herself. Commenting on the logic of desire in an age of consumption and commodification, the film once again attests to the rebelliousness that has shaped Akerman’s work since the beginning.

This Week