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(Credit: Mario De Munck)

Film

Chantal Akerman named her 45 favourite films of all time

When we talk about the pioneers of world cinema, Chantal Akerman is always an indispensable part of the conversation. An endlessly fascinating filmmaker and film theorist, Akerman redefined the cinematic medium in many ways and pushed the boundaries of the avant-garde movement while asking incredibly important questions.

Born in Belgium, Akerman’s parents were survivors of the Holocaust and her mother’s own parents were actually killed at Auschwitz. It was her mother who pushed Akerman to make her mark in life and they shared a very close relationship with each other, a subject that Akerman went on to explore in her cinematic projects.

Akerman had always been fascinated by experimental films ever since she was introduced to them, engaging with the works of Stan Brakhage, Andy Warhol and Jonas Mekas among other avant-garde filmmakers whose contributions to cinema cannot be measured. However, there was one particular film that actually inspired her to become a director.

At the age of 15, Akerman attended a screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou which moved her so much that she made up her mind right then to pursue a career in filmmaking. Over the years, she established herself as a pioneering director whose legacy is still relevant today and amassed an incredible knowledge of cinematic history.

Among these masterpieces, Akerman really loved the works of Robert Bresson a lot and actually connected with his 1967 masterpiece Mouchette. The film revolves around an eponymous young girl who is subjected to all kinds of cruelty and eventually takes her life.

In an interview, Akerman said: “The ending of the film, with Mouchette rolling toward the river, is tremendous. With so little, Bresson makes us feel so much about the world: Mouchette rolls alongside all those who have ever been sacrificed; all those who haven’t been just raped but destroyed. All those who have been rolled in the mud.”

Take a look at the list of films that influenced Chantal Akerman below.

Chantal Akerman’s 45 favourite films of all time:

  • Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  • Mamma Roma (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1962)
  • Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
  • The Trial of Joan of Arc (Robert Bresson, 1962)
  • A Room in Town (Jacques Demy, 1982)
  • Pierrot le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
  • La Région Centrale (Michael Snow, 1971)
  • Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959)
  • Gertrud (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1964)
  • Entire Days in the Trees (Marguerite Duras, 1977)
  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
  • For Ever Mozart (Jean-Luc Godard, 1996)
  • Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, 1953)
  • Standard Time (Michael Snow, 1967)
  • Gold Diggers of 1935 (Busby Berkeley, 1935)
  • Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 1967)
  • Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)
  • Callas Walking Lucia (Werner Schroeter, 1968)
  • Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
  • Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)
  • Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk, 1956)
  • In a Year with 13 Moons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1978)
  • Le Bonheur (Agnès Varda, 1965)
  • Maria Callas Porträt (Werner Schroeter, 1968)
  • Moses and Aaron (Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet, 1975)
  • Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai, 1997)
  • Hand Catching Lead (Richard Serra, 1968)
  • Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
  • M (Fritz Lang, 1931)
  • The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
  • Max My Love (Nagisa Ōshima, 1986)
  • I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira, 2001)
  • Five Evenings (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1979)
  • Mother and Son (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1997)
  • Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984)
  • Far from Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002)
  • Khrustalyov, My Car! (Aleksey German, 1998)
  • Diaries, Notes, and Sketches (Jonas Mekas, 1969)
  • Stolen Kisses (François Truffaut, 1968)
  • Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati, 1958)
  • The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
  • The Blue Angel (Josef von Sternberg, 1930)
  • She Spent So Many Hours Under the Sun Lamps (Philippe Garrel, 1985)
  • Notes Towards an African Orestes (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1970)
  • Les Ministères de l’art (Philippe Garrel, 1989)

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