This essay brings to the fore the voice of composer and cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton, who was Chantal Akerman’s collaborator and life partner for over thirty years. This dialogue was initiated in 2016 by Sandra Percival, founding director of Zena Zezza, who curated LOOKING, REALLY LOOKING! The Films of Chantal Akerman 1968–2015 (2016–17) in Portland, Oregon, and culminated with CHANTAL? Dialogue between a movie, a cello, and a text, conceived and performed by Sonia Wieder-Atherton in 2018. This essay foregrounds films, installations, and performances that portray the interplay of music and film, the collaborative process between the artists, and how their collaboration shape-shifted over time. Three early short films (1986–89) chart Sonia’s first appearances, leading to Chantal’s invitation to shape the music of Histoires d’Amérique: Food, Family, and Philosophy (France/Belgium, 1988). D’Est (From the East, France/Belgium, 1993) is featured for its impact on the future work of both artists and expanding Chantal’s work from the big screen to live performance with D’Est in Music (2005). Their passion for the live stage and breaking the confines of the film frame is seen in Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton (2002) and À l’Est avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton (2009). In the latter, the landscapes Chantal traversed to film D’Est become a music-scape through Mitteleuropa. With CHANTAL?, Sonia performs in conversation with Chantal in Saute ma ville (Blow Up My Town, Belgium, 1968), interwoven with Chantal’s voice from her novel A Family in Brussels (1998) in what Sonia describes as “when I played and Chantal wrote, the images mingled with the words, and the words with the music.”

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