Sunday, January 13, 2008

Chantal Akerman's D'est

I've been struggling for an opportunity to see Chantal Akerman's elegiac urban landscape film D'est for, what, like four years? Monday evening I miraculously laid hands on it. Tuesday morning I cupboarded all distractions, adjusted lighting, fluffed pillows, poured a medium-sized glass of water, and in general made all the necessary preparations for an ideal viewing, and then promptly fell asleep.

Wednesday I re-attempted viewing, with more successful results. It's great, although this YouTube clip should give some impression of how, when you're out of coffee, such a film might make one drowsy, no matter how hotly anticipated.

9 comments:

Edie said...

zzzzzzzzzzzzz...............

Aaron Burkhalter said...

That's one of those films that's really only appreciated in the context of a LOT of film background and knowledge... but maybe that's just me...

Chris Burkhalter said...

It's most commonly shown as an installation video - i.e., something people walk into and, whenever they see fit, away from. I think it holds up pretty well on its own as a single-sitting Film, but knowing films like "News From Home," "Hotel Monterey," or "Jeanne Dielman" will certainly help. Or, alternately, some familiarity with what goes on in your average NY structuralist film. Even so, there's a pure documentary quality that's appreciable even without context. Just in terms of an unfamiliar but not altogether alien setting, as well as the discomfort of people not knowing what they "should" do when faced by an unexpected camera...

Ooh, I gotta go, the parrots are back outside my window.

Robert said...

Hi
I`ve been searching for a dvd or vhs of D`est.
Can you tell me where i might find that?
I think its a masterpiece but agree that knowing jeanne diehlman helps!
Thanks
Bob

Chris Burkhalter said...

Unfortunately, there is no DVD of D'est just yet. A University library around here carries a video tape, and I have a decent (and ethically dubious) .avi file of the film that I can watch on my laptop.

Akerman's "border documentaries" are distributed in the US by First Run/Icarus Films.

http://www.frif.com/new2004/chant.html

They have VHS copies of South, From the Other Side (also available on DVD), and From the East. At present, these carry prohibitive price tags, and are marketed to universities, libraries, and institutions, rather than to individual viewers.

However, there are some recent encouraging developments with FRIF. Just this month, Columbus, Ohio's Wexner Center for the Arts began carrying DVDs of Chris Marker's FRIF DVD titles, priced for the home video market. Wexner has an established relationship with Akerman, so maybe we'll see something similar with her films in the future. Kind of a long-shot, but something to wish and hope for.

carlo said...

I think it is a very interesting film, and you should also try akerman`s "news from home".

though she uses a pseudo narrative strategy for that.

Chris Burkhalter said...

'News From Home' is one of my personal favorites. There is, indeed, a narrative structure, and it's remarkably inventive, engaging ideas of home and estrangement, direct address and detached distance through a pairing of public space (the visual part of the film) and domestic space (the letters from Akerman's mother that Akerman herself reads on the audio track). It's a perplexingly indirect self-portrait - and rich conceptual art - but I'm always struck by how intimate it feels.

Revisiting some of the earlier questions, it looks like there is now a DVD of D'est on the way:

http://www.amazon.com/East-Chantal-Akerman/dp/B002EEYL5A/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=IRAZL6LEMHSG1&colid=3SN6WIEAQXW0Q

Meanwhile, Criterion have just released a Jeanne Dielman disc, and Masters of Cinema are reportedly working on covering your 70s Akerman needs.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

Anonymous said...
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