Chantal Akerman Dies: Pioneering Belgian Filmmaker Was 65

A director, cinematographer, writer, editor and sometime actress, Belgian-born filmmaker Chantal Akerman has died. The death was confirmed by French film industry organization ARP. Le Monde has reported that Akerman committed suicide Monday night. She was 65.

Akerman began making movies at age 17 with her first short, 1968’s Saute Ma Ville. Among her oeuvre are such films as Je, Tu, Il, Elle in which she starred with Niels Arestrup; Les Rendez-Vous D’Anna and The Captive. Her most lauded is perhaps Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles which she made at just 24. Spanning three hours, it’s a portrait of a widow as she prepares food, does chores — and receives clients paying for sex. The Film Stage calls it “a masterpiece” and “More than one of the most influential, most deliberate, and greatest films ever made.” Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian writes, “The image of subjection and imprisonment in this film is a vital part of Akerman’s feminist perspective.”

Akerman’s biggest commercial success was the English-language A Couch In New York in 1996 with Juliette Binoche and William Hurt starring. She was also a lecturer at the City College Of New York.

Her last film was video essay No Home Movie about her mother, Auschwitz survivor Natalia, which screened in Locarno last month and is currently running in the New York Film Festival. She was also due to appear in London next month in a Q&A and masterclass following a retrospective of her work at the ICA cinema, The Guardian reported.

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