We were saddened today to learn of the death of the great Chantal Akerman. Known most widely for her 1975 masterpiece, Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, Akerman made precise, thoughtful, and aesthetically daring films—fiction features and documentaries, narrative works and abstract experiments—for almost fifty years. Her latest film, the exquisite No Home Movie, is playing this week at the New York Film Festival. Critic J. Hoberman called her “arguably the most important European director of her generation,” and it’s hard to argue with him: her films had the power to change how we see movies and the world.
Akerman sat down to talk to us in 2009 for our release of Jeanne Dielman. Here are excerpts from that fascinating interview, in which the animated and brilliant filmmaker talks about how she conceived her intimate epic, the importance of working with an almost exclusively female crew, and much more. Chantal, you will be profoundly missed.