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From The East

D'Est
Director: Chantal Akerman

Belgium, France, Portugal, Documentary, 1993, 110 min
The experimental documentary film “From the East” is one of the best examples of Akerman’s filmmaking, but at the same time different because of the non-narrative structure. “From the East” is an uncommented journey through anonymous landscapes filmed in Germany, Poland and Russia. The surroundings “From the East”, as the title indicates, give time for reflection about Eastern European identity. One characteristic of Chantal Akerman’s filmmaking is slow horizontal camera movement, and the static framing of people and  landscapes. Smiles, gazes and irritated faces confront the intrusive camera. “From the East” is the essence of ‘Kino-eye’ film theory – the camera lens as an eye that captures images as objective truth. This truth is only possible to capture by a camera. Akerman explains, “I put the camera in front of what I want to film and I let it stay there for long time, so that truth must appear. Truth doesn’t have to appear but suddenly you feel something unexpected and your heart starts beating faster.” Akerman’s contextualisation of the non-narrative film never leaves the audience without meaning and symbolic substance.

About the director:

Chantal Akerman, born in 1950, is a Brussels-born and now Paris-based filmmaker, writer, actor and composer, and one of the most important European directors of her generation. As a teenager, she saw Jean Luc Godard's “Pierot le fou” (1965) and realized that filmmaking could be personal and experimental. Akerman started making her own films in the late '60s and gave a new meaning to the term ‘independent film’ as an embodiment of pure independence and creativity. Akerman has made over 40 works – from 35mm features to video essays to experimental documentaries. In 1995 Akerman began experimenting with video installations and exhibiting her work in museums and galleries as well as in art-house theatres. Her video installations, last exhibited at the Venice Art Biennale 2001 and Kassel Documenta Festival in 2002. She is also a professor of film studies at the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
Section: Wide Angle

Screenplay: Chantal Akerman

Dir. of Photography: Bernard Delville, Raymond Fromont

Music: Sonia Wieder-Atherton