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Belgian auteur Chantal Akerman, an icon among European experimental filmmakers, has died, according to a representative for the Royal Belgian Film Archive who confirmed press reports. She was 65.
News of the filmmaker’s unexpected death was first revealed in European newspapers, including Liberation and Figaro in France, and comes after Akerman last month debuted her latest film, No Home Movie, at the Locarno Film Festival.
Fellow directors were quick to express their sadness at Akerman’s death on social media.
“Chantal Akerman has died, but her great films live on,” Mark Cousins, filmmaker and critic, said on Twitter.
“We’re saddened to hear the news of the death of #ChantalAkerman. She’ll be missed, but never forgotten,” the Center for Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium, where the director was born in 1950, said on its Twitter account.
Akerman grew up in an observant Jewish family. The documentary No Home Movie was shot mostly inside the home of Akerman’s mother, who came to Belgium in 1938 from Poland to escape the Nazis.
The Hollywood Reporter film critic said of the film: “Partly an autobiographical account about her own family history and partially a work that will fill in gaps or further explain choices in some of the director’s previous works…”
Akerman is best known for films like Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), A Couch in New York (1996) and The Captive (2000).
The Toronto Film Festival, where No Home Movie screened last month, praised Akerman in a statement, calling her among “the greatest” of contemporary filmmakers and artists. “Daring, original, uncompromising, and in all ways radical, Akerman revolutionized the history of cinema not only with her masterpiece Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, but also with the sustained urgency of her brilliance,” said the festival.
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