News from Home, Chantal Akerman, 85’, Belgium / USA /  FRG,  ZDF 23.12.1976, Original English version

In 1976, a year after the success of her film Jeanne Dielman, Chantal Akerman goes to New York, carrying her mother’s letters that reached her during an earlier stay. Together with cinematographer Babette Mangolte, she begins to explore Manhattan beyond the glittering boulevards in strict squared shots. Over these images, she reads out the letters, leaving the audience beset by the depth of concern and love from home, which nonetheless becomes increasingly lost in the noises of the big city. “Please don’t be alarmed by the style,” the editor writes to the actress, who is to read out the texts in German for ZDF, “the clichéd, the banality, the random juxtaposition of all sorts of knickknacks is intentional.”

Chantal Akerman (1950–2015) was a Belgian filmmaker and artist, whose experimental feature films and documentary essays have been shown and received numerous awards internationally. Her film Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), which premiered at the Berlinale Forum, is now considered one of the most important works of film history. Also shown in the Forum were News from Home (1976), Akerman’s first work for Das kleine Fernsehspiel, followed by The Meetings of Anna (1978) and one episode of the feminist film series Seven Women, Seven Sins (1987). From the East (1994) also featured in the Berlinale Forum. Akerman’s works were shown at Documenta 6 and Documenta 11.