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Jeanne Dielman film image

Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

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Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig) lives in a small apartment in Brussels. She is a middle-aged widow, mother, homemaker, and part-time prostitute whose existence is dominated by routine – the preparation of meals, the running of errands, visits from her clients, and evenings with her teenage son Sylvain (Jan Decorte) – until the cracks start to show.

In December, Chantal Akerman’s 1975 masterpiece was voted the Greatest Film of All Time by 1600+ film critics, academics and curators in Sight & Sound magazine’s prestigious once-a-decade poll. A singular blend of feminism, modernism, and the avant-garde whose hypnotic rhythms and rigorous attention to detail make for a riveting, unforgettable experience, Jeanne Dielman is a reminder that Hollywood’s mode of storytelling is only one among many. This is not a difficult film but it is different from what we are usually spoon-fed by the commercial mainstream. Akerman concentrates us on the daily routines that constitute Jeanne’s life, often shared in real time (though the movie compresses three days into three hours). Time becomes the film’s principal aesthetic and core experience. In this, it cemented and built on the work of Andy Warhol and transformed our understanding of what cinema can do.

Jeanne Dielman came in at #4 in Sight & Sound’s poll of film directors. In 2012, it came in at #35.

Sunday’s screening in our new PANTHEON series will feature free refreshments and a short introduction by Alla Gadassik, Associate Professor, Media History & Theory, Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Who wants to see an avant-garde feminist masterpiece, other than feminists and the avant-garde? You should. Chantal Akerman’s 1975 movie is still massively important … Jeanne Dielman is immersion cinema, a brilliant example of maximal minimalism that fuses viewer with subject so profoundly, the marathon experience transcends simple spectatorship.

Stephen Garrett, Time Out New York

Severe yet majestic … Nothing can quite prepare the first-time viewer for the force of Ms. Akerman’s concentration, for the film’s overwhelming concreteness or the horrifying logic of its ending.

Dennis Lim, The New York Times

Jeanne Dielman is inescapably a woman’s film, consciously feminist in its turn to the avant garde. On the side of content, the film charts the breakdown of a bourgeois Belgian housewife, mother and part-time prostitute over the course of three days; on the side of form, it rigorously records her domestic routine in extended time and from a fixed camera position. In a film that, agonisingly, depicts women’s oppression, Akerman transforms cinema, itself so often an instrument of women’s oppression, into a liberating force.

Laura Mulvey, Sight & Sound

Director

Chantal Akerman

Cast

Delphine Seyrig, Jan Decorte

Credits
Country of Origin

Belgium/France

Year

1975

Language

In French with English subtitles

Awards

The Greatest Film Ever Made – Sight & Sound magazine, 2022

19+
201 min

Book Tickets

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Credits

Producer

Corinne Jénart, Evelyne Paul

Screenwriter

Chantal Akerman

Cinematography

Babette Mangolte

Editor

Patricia Canino

Also in This Series

Daisies + Meshes of the Afternoon

This program highlights two landmarks in feminist film: Maya Deren's surrealist short Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), and Vera Chytilova's subversive new wave farce, Daisies (1966), perhaps the most radical, confrontational film of the era.

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Sunrise

The consummate director of the silent era, Murnau was schooled in German Expressionism and embraced the fluidity and dynamism of the moving camera. Invited to Hollywood he prefigured film noir with this tale of a married villager seduced by a city vamp.

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Pather Panchali

Satyajit Ray's first film opened eyes in the West. It's a naturalistic portrait of the childhood of a Brahman child, Apu, growing up in a village far from twentieth century technology in West Bengal.

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The Night of the Hunter

One of the strangest and most beguiling movies you'll ever see, from a poetic, nightmarish novel by Davis Grubb, a fable about two children fleeing from a psychotic evangelical preacher (Robert Mitchum). Charles Laughton's only film as director.

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The Battle of Algiers

French Colonel Mathieu hunts for Algerian resistance leader Ali la Pointe in Pontecorvo's classic, which draws the battle lines between colonialists and Arab insurrectionists in a pulsating, "fly-on-the-wall" documentary style.

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Playtime

Jacques Tati was modernity's clown; technology his banana skin. Here his alter-ego Monsieur Hulot navigates a sterile Paris that seems designed to thwart his every wish.

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