In a suburban landscape of grey buildings, a young woman goes home. She cleans the kitchen, eats, drinks wine. Slowly, everything explodes in disaster. All along, she is humming.
“I was not afraid – said Chantal Akerman about those early years, when she understood she wanted to be a filmmaker (and the accent is on ‘being’) – “I was all in the innocence and in the discovery. I was making films just to make them, for myself”.
And afraid she was not. Aged 18, she had just quit the stiffness and boredom of a formal film school (after resisting only 3 months) when she got hold of a 35mm camera and few cans of negative, and without any funding off she went to shoot Saute ma ville.
Self-taught, self-produced, self-written, self-interpreted, and absolutely stunning, the film remained for two years locked in a lab, due to unpaid bills. When it finally emerged (to be broadcasted on the Flemish TV thanks to Eric de Kuyper, and later screened in festivals like Oberhausen and Hyères) people started realizing that a new, important filmmaker had suddenly arisen. Because what is striking about Saute ma ville – then as now – is that we can already see a fully formed filmmaker behind it with her very specific and personal aesthetic, themes, style. And if today with easy hindsight we can definitely see Jeanne Dielman at the horizon as a counterpoint to Saute ma ville, it is also true that at the time those most perceptive, like de Kuyper, like André Delvaux had already sensed that this young girl, this Chantal Akerman, was heading to have a very deep impact on the cinema of the following decades.