CHANTAL AKERMAN IN 1993 RUSSIA: TO THE SCREENING OF FROM THE EAST

“When you read a text, you’re on your own time. That is not the case in film. In fact, in film, you’re dominated by my time. But time is different for everyone. Five minutes isn’t the same thing for you as it is for me. And five minutes sometimes seems long, sometimes seems short. Take a specific film, say, From the East: I imagine the way each viewer experiences time is different. And on my end, when I edit, the timing isn’t done just any way. I draw it out to the point where we have to cut.”

“I find that, on the contrary, during this time, we feel our existence. […] in From the East, we see people standing in line, and the shot lasts seven or eight minutes. Now, whenever my mother sees news about Russia she says, “I couldn’t help but think of your film. I’ll never see news about Russia in the same way again.” That’s something. For people of my mother’s generation, they recognize themselves in the film; for example, in From the East she recognizes clothes she used to wear, she recognizes faces. These images exist in her already. When I made the film I—who was born after the war—often wondered why I shot this and not that. I didn’t know. But afterwards, when the film was finished, I understood that those particular images were already in my head, and I was looking for them.”

From the interview for Art Forum magazine.

 

“When I was shooting From the East in the Ukraine, we ran out of gas. Some peasants siphoned the gas from their car to give it to us, but then didn’t want us to leave and prepared a feast. Poor as they were, they cobbled together what they could to offer us a meal of a king. They didn’t know Prokofiev or Shostakovich, but they knew that when someone’s hungry, they have to eat.”

From the interview for Lola magazine.

 


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