Tuesday, March 18

Dis-Moi: First Impressions of New and Expanded Interests by Keifer Taylor

Dis-Moi: First Impressions of New and Expanded Interests

Slipping into 1980, Chantal Akerman widened and polished her scope of interests with Dis-moi (aka, Aujour’dui dis-moi). While Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (1978) hauntingly alluded to the Holocaust, this short performative documentary engages with its harsh remnants. Commissioned for French television, focusing on grandmothers, the 30-year-old Belgian filmmaker decided to interview numerous survivors. Including her mother, whose hushed voice is spread across the film’s narrative, the four testimonials tend to dwell on their family lives before the Ashkenazi Jews’ insufferable avalanche of systematic murders.

The performative qualities can be discerned by the director’s own presence. By constructing sequences with reverse angle shots, presenting her and the speakers, there lies a clear wish for personalisation. After the first two visits, a camera peers up onto the elderly women’s balconies. Cutting down to ground level, outside the apartments, a solemn Akerman stares up with fascination and respect for her subjects. Being the daughter of a lady sent to Auschwitz as a child, its ceremonial nature is unsurprising. As an unspoken fifth member of this story, she comes from a disparate generation of European children who will never truly understand the Nazis Final Solution, but lug its solidly traumatic load.