Here is the ICA introduction to tonight's programme: A Nos Amours film club continues a retrospective of the complete film works of Chantal Akerman, with two short films and her breakthrough feature length film of 1972 Je Tu il Elle.
Chantal Akerman is a film maker whose time has come. Akerman's work is superficially wide-ranging - spanning documentary and narrative, film and video, 16mm and 35mm, cinema and art gallery - and yet her work is characterised by an uncompromising and singular sense of purpose.
What Akerman shows us, by means structural and otherwise, is nothing less than the human condition, a series of astonishing meditations on loneliness and anxiety, alienation and discomfort. She began inspired by Godard, but quickly established a startling and provocative project that is among the very greatest in European film.
As J. Hoberman has said: 'Comparable in force and originality to Godard or Fassbinder, Chantal Akerman is arguably the most important European director of her generation'.
1972, 16mm, 11 mins, mute
Shot in New York, influenced perhaps by Snow and Warhol: serene, formal, and yet very beautiful.
1973, 16mm, 42 mins
Returning to Europe from New York, working with a Finnish friend of Akerman's early collaborator Samy Szlingerbaum, Akerman explores a hinterland between documentary, fiction and unmediated duration.
Je Tu il Elle
16mm, 1975, 86 mins
A set of minimalist constraints create a space for a devastating exploration of utter dissociation.
Chicago Reader review of Je Tu il Elle:
Chantal Akerman directed and plays the lead in this early (1974) black-and-white feature that charts three successive stages of its heroine's love life. In the first part she lives like a hermit, eating only sugar, compulsively rearranging the furniture in her one-room flat, and apparently writing and rewriting a love letter; in part two she hitches a ride with a truck driver and eventually gives him a hand job; in part three she arrives at the home of her female lover, and they proceed to make frantic love. This is every bit as obsessive and as eerie as Akerman's later Jeanne Dielman and Toute une nuit, though not as striking on a visual level; as in all her best work, however, the minimalist structure is both potent and haunting.
Here and above is an extract.
No2 The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock, 1938): The Russet, Amhurst Terrace, London, E8, 7.30pm
Chicago Reader review:
Alfred Hitchcock's masterful 1938 spy thriller, with Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave searching for kidnapped agent Dame May Whitty aboard a trans-European express train, pursued all the while by sinister Nazi agents. This is vintage Hitchcock, with the pacing and superb editing that marked not only his 30s style but eventually every film that had any aspirations whatever to achieving suspense and rhythm.
Here and above is the trailer.