Akerman the filmmaker came of age at the same time as the new age of feminism, and her films became key texts in the nascent field of feminist film theory. Feminism posed the apparently simple question of who speaks when a woman in film speaks (as character, as director ...); Akerman insisted convincingly that her films' modes of address rather than their stories alone are the locus of their feminist perspective. The many arguments about what form a "new women's cinema" should take revolved around a presumed dichotomy between so-called realist (meaning accessible) and avant-garde (meaning elitist) work; Akerman's films rendered such distinctions irrelevant and illustrated the reductiveness of the categories. — Professor Janet Bergstrom, UCLA, in Sight and Sound
Born in Brussels, Belgium in 1950, Chantal Akerman is a filmmaker whose work gives new meaning to the term "independent film." An Akerman film is an exercise in pure independence, pure creativity, and pure art. The viewer must give him- or herself over completely to the experience of the film, to watch with open eyes and an open mind. To label Akerman's work "minimalist" or "structuralist" or "feminist" is to miss most of what she is about. Strong themes in her films include women at work and at home, women's relationships to men, women, and children, food, love, sex, romance, art, and storytelling. Each Akerman film is a world unto itself and demands to be explored on its own terms. Her films are the subject of two recent books: Identity and Memory: The Films of Chantal Akerman by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster and Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman's Hyperrealist Everday by Ivone Margulies.