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The films of Chantal Akerman : a cinema of displacements

By Catherine Fowler


This thesis attempts to broaden the critical boundaries within which the films of\ud Chantal Akerman have been discussed. First, it extends analysis from Akerman's\ud 70s to her 80s and 90s films. Second, it argues that as well as her gender and\ud aesthetic identities, Akerman's Belgian and Jewish identities should be\ud acknowledged. Finally, it suggests that each of these four identities: woman,\ud independent film-maker, Belgian and Jewish allow her a position of marginality,\ud figured in her films through the trope of 'displacement'.\ud The structure of the thesis is two-fold: it extends discussion of Akerman's cinema to\ud films not previously considered, and through this extension engages with\ud contemporary issues in film and cultural theory such as female authorship,\ud independent and national, and marginal cinemas. Chapter one `Woman' and chapter\ud two `Independent' extend the reading of gender and sexuality and formal and\ud aesthetic innovation in Akerman's cinema. In the first chapter this is done through\ud consideration of the films Golden Eighties (1986) and Nuit et jour (1990), while in\ud the second her short films, video work and work for television are examined.\ud My third and fourth chapters offer areas of Akerman's work which have not\ud previously been studied. Chapter three, `Belgian', considers the significance of\ud Akerman's nationality for her film-making while engaging with theories around\ud national cinema. It examines the possibility of a `Belgian national cinema' and the\ud intersections which arise between this and Akerman's cinema, especially around\ud Toute une nuit (1982). Finally, in my fourth chapter, `Jewish', I use Histoires\ud d'Amerigue (1989) and D'Est (1993) to argue that Akerman's is a `wandering'\ud cinema, in which she is constantly examining the homelessness and displacement\ud that her Jewishness engenders

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