D'Est, 1993

D'Est / From the East

Introduction by Asst Professor Jennifer Wild, Department of Cinema & Media Studies
Friday, November 13, 2009 - 7:00pm

Chantal Akerman’s D’Est retraces a journey from the end of summer to deepest winter, from East Germany, across Poland and the Baltics, to Moscow. It is a voyage Akerman wanted to make shortly after the collapse of the Soviet bloc "before it was too late," reconstructing her impressions in the manner of a documentary on the border of fiction. By filming "everything that touched me," Akerman sifts through and fixes upon sounds and images as she follows the thread of this subjective crossing. Without dialogue or commentary, D’Est is a cinematographic elegy.

"Her camera shows flat landscapes and ribbons of city streets, modulated by the change of seasons, by the succession of day and night. The East is a space of muffled sounds, traversed by the footsteps of passers-by, sporadically pieced by music, laughter and strange interjections. It is an epidermal space: the camera slides over appearances ('like a caress', says Akerman)... The East, no longer monolithically impersonal, is shown as both familiar and completely strange. This is a haunting and, quite literally, extraordinary film." — Francette Pacteau, San Francisco Film Festival

(Chantal Akerman, 1993, 107min, Belgium, France, Portugal, 16mm print courtesy of Walker Arts Center)