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9 October 2019: Chantal Akerman: No Home Movie


Marking their publication of Akerman's final book, My Mother Laughs, we invite Silver Press to present the Belgian auteur's final film, No Home MovieMy Mother Laughs is translated by Daniella Shreir, with an Introduction by Eileen Myles and Afterword by Frances MorganSilver Press is a feminist press established in 2016 by Joanna Biggs, Sarah Shin and Alice Spawls.

"In 2013, the filmmaker Chantal Akerman's mother was dying. She flew back from New York to Brussels to care for her, and between dressing her, feeding her and putting her to bed, she wrote. She wrote about her childhood, the escape her mother made from Auschwitz but didn't talk about, the difficulty of loving her girlfriend, C., her fear of what she would do when her mother did die. Among these imperfectly perfect fragments of writing about her life, she placed stills from her films. My Mother Laughs is both the distillation of the themes Akerman pursued throughout her creative life, and a version of the simplest and most complicated love story of all: that between a mother and a daughter." – Silver Press

No Home Movie
Chantal Akerman, 2016, 115 min
Introduced by Silver Press

The final film by Chantal Akerman, No Home Movie is a portrait of her relationship with her mother, Natalia, a Holocaust survivor and familiar presence in many of her daughter's films.

"In No Home Movie, it is as if Chantal Akerman, perhaps for the first time in her career, has revealed the core of her work and her wounds in the most naked of ways: her frequent focus on confinement, repetition, and confrontation; her longing to be elsewhere; her dizzying instability. And yes, of course, exemplifying the hyperrealism for which she has been associated since Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), the film is very much a treatise on space and time, on domestic and physical entrapment and subliminal choreography as Akerman’s mother lives out her final days isolated from the outside world, and perhaps far from a promised land never attained. Constructed of frames-within-frames with doors open and partially ajar, windows real and laptop-bound, with furniture and objects as middle-class indexes, the film proceeds by meticulously mapping space and doing so for extended durations. A sense of acute claustrophobia emerges in the apartment. In the book, Chantal speaks at length about trying to shelter herself from her mother’s illness and her constant yearning for physical affection, finding temporary respite in a messy room to which she retreats to write. This daily act is not simply salvation from the cramped, compartmentalized space and death’s inevitable encroachment, but also from Chantal’s restless (and relentless) mission to hear about her mother’s past, to recuperate memories no matter how traumatic or details seemingly insignificant – to hear her mother speak and tell her story, their story. From the film’s abundance of static shots and its odd transitional zones, but also from its plunge into filial shame, wonderment, and guilt, Ozu naturally comes to mind.


In an age of seductive slickness, of Instagram-curated happiness, Akerman continues to confront what Joan Didion termed “the unspeakable peril of the everyday,” doing so in a disarmingly honest, unembellished way which gives weight and credence to nervous collapses, emotional impairment, and fears about the precariousness of life. Both elliptical and tryingly quotidian, No Home Movie is a shattering contemplation of loss and grief as much as it is a search for identity and calm, for rootedness from a perpetually nomadic, breathless soul. It is not a home movie: it is a movie about having no home." – Andrea Picard

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