Chantal Akerman’s last film, No Home Movie (Belgium/ France, 2015), a film that is now impossibly freighted with the news of her suicide, provides a poignant reflection on many of the themes and formal strategies that Akerman has employed throughout her storied career. Shot by Akerman in low-resolution digital video, No Home Movie alternates excruciatingly long passages set in the interior of her ailing mother’s apartment in Brussels with traveling shots taken of the Negev desert in Israel and sequences of the peripatetic Akerman Skyping her mother from her apartment in New York or from hotel rooms around the world. In these purposefully dedramatized spaces “nothing happens”— nothing, that is, but a series of profound and moving encounters between Akerman and her mother, Natalia (Nelly), a survivor of Auschwitz whose family was murdered in the Holocaust. Bracha Ettinger’s theory of the matrixial borderspace provides a rich conceptual frame to consider the intergenerational transference of trauma that is so palpably present in No Home Movie and that, in many ways, might be read as a key to Akerman’s entire oeuvre.
Research Article| May 01 2019
Brenda Longfellow; The Matrixial Borderspace: The Complex Inscription of Trauma in Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie. Camera Obscura 1 May 2019; 34 (1 (100)): 113–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-7264144
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