The modernist masterpiece “Jeanne Dielman” of the Brussels director Chantal Akerman is in a poll of BBC Culture named the best non-English film directed by a woman. The film is on place 14 in the top 100 which 209 critics, including 94 women, from within and abroad have participated.
Only four women have the top one hundred of the poll: “City of God” of Katia Lunde, “Beau Travail” by Claire Denis and “Cléo de 5 à 7” of Agnès Varda. But the highest is, therefore, the “Jeanne Dielemans, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles”, a movie of three hours which Chantal Akerman in 1975 at the age of 25 made his debut.
“Jeanne Dielemans” is a meticulous study of the life of Jeanne Dieleman (Delphine Do), a mysterious widow who is in a lot of time in her modest apartment in Brussels spending. There she receives each day a different seksklant, keeps them engaged with the education of her indifferent teenage son and insert them a lot of time in the running of the household, something which is very literally must be taken because even the peeling and cooking of potatoes by a static camera in real time, filmed.
“Akerman challenges the conventions of the cinema, in about the same terms as James Joyce’s “Ulysses” the novel was challenged,” quotes the BBC site Kathleen McHugh, head of the film department at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in LA . Also, Le Monde described Akerman’s feature film “as the first feministishe masterpiece in the history of cinema”.
According to Akerman it was all about “to create art of women of the household or do the dishes, so the ‘length’ is also part of the commentary.”
The films of Chantal Akkerman to be quite fast in the corner of the arthousecinema played drums before but both contemporary, although quirky filmmakers like Todd Haynes and Gus Van Sant have their admiration for the work of Chantal Akerman, never tucked away.
Chantal Akerman died in October 2015 after a suicide.
“Jeanne Dielman” is the only Belgian film in the BBC poll, which is headed by “Seven Samurais” from Akira Kurosawa, followed by “Ladri di bicyclette” of Vittoria de Sica, and “Tokyo Story” by Yasujiro Ozu on three.