Chantal Akerman on DVD

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Wittsdream
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#51 Post by Wittsdream » Thu May 31, 2007 10:38 am

I live in Chicago, and placed an order via Mastercard on May 12th then received a shipping confirmation on May 25th.

Telstar
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#52 Post by Telstar » Thu May 31, 2007 1:18 pm

I placed an order with my Visa card and also had no problems.

gelich
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#53 Post by gelich » Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:30 pm

I've tried three different cards multiple times and on each occasion Mediadis eventually cancels the order, claiming my card companies refused the transaction. Yet when I check with the three companies, they all tell me that the charges were approved and there was no problem.
It's very frustrating because it appears that Mediadis is the exclusive retailer for the edition of the Chantal Akerman set with English subtitles, so if they won't fill an order there is no way to obtain the set.
If anyone knows of another source for this set, that would be very helpful.
Thank you.

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#54 Post by kekid » Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:35 pm

gelich wrote:I've tried three different cards multiple times and on each occasion Mediadis eventually cancels the order, claiming my card companies refused the transaction. Yet when I check with the three companies, they all tell me that the charges were approved and there was no problem.
It's very frustrating because it appears that Mediadis is the exclusive retailer for the edition of the Chantal Akerman set with English subtitles, so if they won't fill an order there is no way to obtain the set.
If anyone knows of another source for this set, that would be very helpful.
Thank you.
I had identical exprerience with Mediadis. They cancelled my order twice, and my card issuer assured me both requests were approved. I sent e'mails to Mediadis twice. Both remain unanswered. Given that they are the exclusive distributor, this is most frustrating. I second the request for an alternate source.

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Gropius
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#55 Post by Gropius » Sat Jul 14, 2007 10:45 am

Shit, I was ordering something else on Amazon.fr the other day, and I absent-mindedly added the Akerman set to my basket, having forgotten that there were two versions, and that the Carlotta one didn't have sous-titres.

Now I'll have to go through the rigmarole of returning it; at least I reread this thread before opening the packaging.

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domino harvey
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#56 Post by domino harvey » Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:09 pm

Rejoice, this is now on sale at Xploited Cinema! I actually knew about it for a few days but waited to tell the world til I got my shipping notice...

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Gregory
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#57 Post by Gregory » Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:18 pm

The $69.99 price is a sale? I'm curious how much was it before? The 47 Euro price at Mediadis is still cheaper than that, but I went ahead and ordered it from Xploited anyway. It's worth the extra money to me right now not to have to order several times, talk with my credit card company's fraud department, and whatever else might happen with Mediadis.

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#58 Post by neal » Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:56 pm

Gregory wrote:The $69.99 price is a sale? I'm curious how much was it before? The 47 Euro price at Mediadis is still cheaper than that, but I went ahead and ordered it from Xploited anyway. It's worth the extra money to me right now not to have to order several times, talk with my credit card company's fraud department, and whatever else might happen with Mediadis.
I think that what was being said was that it is now for sale on Xploited Cinema, for those who had had trouble getting it in other ways.

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domino harvey
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#59 Post by domino harvey » Sat Sep 08, 2007 2:02 pm

exactly. My point was also that considering shipping costs of both, the difference amounts to around $10 total. My card went thru fine at Mediadis but then my order sat waiting to be fulfilled for coming up on a month, so I just canceled the Mediadis order and grabbed the Xploited Cinema offer.

kekid
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#60 Post by kekid » Sat Sep 08, 2007 2:25 pm

As suggested above, Xploited Cinema delivers the Akerman set for about $10 more than the Mediadis delivered price to USA. And their service is exemplary. For those interested in such matters, Xploited Cinema themselves got the same treatment from Mediadis that some of us got. They were fortunate to find an alternate supplier.

The set itself is great. I have not seen any film in its entirety, but I was pleased with the selective sampling I did. One thing not great about the set is its packaging. The set opens like a book, showing two pairs of disks in figure-of-eight configuration, and one disc separate. The bottom disck in the figure-of-eight pairs do not have any spindle in the center. They are held in place by two clamps. If even one of the clamps breaks, those discs would not be held in place. Also, there is no sleeve around the booklike packaging (don't know what is the technical name for this type of packaging). After some use the spine is very likely to ge worn out due to unsupported weight of discs on two sides of it. A pity that people who took trouble to produce these wonderful discs did not house them in a durable packaging.

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domino harvey
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#61 Post by domino harvey » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:19 pm

Holy smokes, you aren't kidding. This has to be the worst multi-disc packaging I've ever seen-- I don't even know how anyone could design something to hold discs this horrific on purpose.

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Gregory
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#62 Post by Gregory » Sat Sep 08, 2007 5:21 pm

Oh, I see. Glad I ordered the set from Xploited then. From what I've seen of Akerman's work, and from the reviews I've read of this set, I'm sure it will be well worth the price.

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david hare
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#63 Post by david hare » Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:44 pm

Although the 69.95 is a small markup from, for example approx 46 Euros including postage and minus VAT to Oz for me, it's no more than Tony's usual margin at xploited and obviously worth the trouble for Statesiders.

A couple of quick observations: Jeanne Dielmann is now to me a complete unalloyed masterpiece. And it's worth the price of the box alone. One of the greatest works of minimalism and surely the ne plus ultra of the "slow burn". Seyrig is sublime in this. (As she is in almost everything she ever did!)

And I concur with the comments about the box. Not only is the blue and gray design completely hideous, the figure eight case layouts are totally unwieldy and probably dangerous for the health of the discs and your fingernails. I owe it this however - it's the very first box set in which Im throwing out all the packaging and slipping the discs into plastic sleeves with the remaining 2500 in the library to follow. This is something Ive been putting off for a long time but chaotic space considerations were calling and this box is the cruncher.

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John Cope
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#64 Post by John Cope » Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:54 pm

Finally finished this wonderfully exhausting set and wanted to post a few thoughts. I watched the films chronologically and then worked through the extras. Overall it is an absolutely essential package (though the packaging itself, as has been noted, is far from adequate--fit for kindlin' as some might say). The transfers all look sterling to me, better than I would have ever expected, but the real treat is in the rare opportunity to witness such a genuine personal aesthetic in its developmental stages. There is a very satisfying continuity on display throughout these works which is also more rare than we generally realize. To the films themselves:

Hotel Monterey was a real surprise as I was prepared for it to be near intolerable and it turned out to be one of my favorite things on the set. First, I hadn't realized that it was a silent work, and by silent I mean silent, not even accompanied by an ambient score. I kept waiting for the sound to kick in and when it didn't after ten minutes or so, and I realized it wouldn't, it somehow freed me up to settle into it in a way that might not otherwise have been possible. It positions the images as a series of stills or stills come to life (as is also true in the case of News from Home) and we are able to follow an implicit line of reasoning in which there is a logical sequential build. But what does this logic imply? What's so enthralling about Hotel Monterey is the fact that it doesn't dictate what its aesthetic must reveal. In some respects it can be seen as a purely formal gesture, an early establishment of Akerman's radical technique, her extraordinary sensitivity to the power of well composed images. But beyond that it leads to a consideration of actual spaces, lived in or empty, always with anticipation of life if only due to our engagement with the image. Her studied ascent to rooftop level feels exhilarating because it accomplishes one of the prerogatives of art, which is to approach the familiar anew.

I was less compelled by Je, tu, il, elle, perhaps simply because it seemed to exist in more immediately recognizable territory, formally speaking. Still, there are great things here as well, most of them, I would argue, connected directly to Akerman's staggering compositional ability. Certainly there are also indicators of her nascent thematic ambitions as well but they are of less interest to me than is the manner in which they are achieved.

It's in Dielman, of course, where these principles are best expressed as it is a virtually perfect merger of form and content, aesthetic style and substantive subject. Her lucid understanding of what she wants to communicate here emerges through pacing and editing strategies which demand total acquiescence on our part; we consent to the necessity of a filmic language seldom spoken so rigorously. In all truth, I can recall few films which rely so heavily for their ultimate effect upon purely compositional techniques (though the ones that do are usually my favorites--most recently something like Zidane, for instance). This is not meant to slight the extraordinary central performance but simply to position it within a context, at the service of a unified ambition. The rhythms of this picture are often reduced in discussions to being just explications of stifling domestic routine. But it's obviously more than that, much more. The ritualistic patterns are emanations of a very particular, regimented consciousness which exists to sustain the bars of its own prison. Is this in order to avoid questioning its legitimacy or because it is too deeply ingrained to be questioned (it is the only possibility)? Akerman's script is a model of subtle insinuation that contributes to her themes. The few conversations are all charged with larger implications. My personal favorite is the exchange between Dielman and her son in which he goes into detail about his attitude toward sex; I like this moment because it is the only one which escapes the boundaries of regimented expectation; it is almost surreal in its direct and confrontational language (perhaps making a point about the unreal impossibility of such a moment of forthrightness or, perhaps, that only men feel emboldened enough to be this direct and not circumspect--wisely Akerman never positions sexual boldness as some kind of naive liberation; in fact, it's actually positioned as just another flailing gesture toward control in a society which forces everything to be contextualized this way: as futile, impotent assertions of irrelevant dominance played out against a background of violent power imposed as authoritative final truth). I also like the fact that Dielman's own implicit attitudes inform her relationships and perpetuate a cycle of masculine assumed privilege: i.e. the fact that she isn't saddled with a boring stereotype of a husband but instead a passive-aggressive son who embodies learned social traits. The final actions of Jeanne Dielman are believable because of Akerman's slow burn technique, most of which relies on our sensitivity to shifts in minutiae and a recognition of why and how this registers as significant. Everything about the final few minutes resonates with confidence; from the barely glimpsed replacement of the weapon on the dressing table to the justifiably famous final image, held for a provocative length but to a deeply purposeful effect: Dielman at rest at last (it required this), caught in the relentless flickering lights from outside,which now reveal themselves in their resemblance to police lights as a symbol of authority and further entrapment; an unavoidable reaction to her own outburst of resistance and her presumptive assertion of independence.

In many respects, News from Home is equally great, though at first it seems a smaller, slighter work. In terms of duration, of course, it is, but this is hardly significant. Once again we are plunged into Akerman's indulgence for purely formal gestures which also amount to something cumulatively. On one level, we get the alienated landscape effect very clearly, accented as it is by the forlorn, somewhat desperate letters read by the recipient. But this is so much more complex than it seems. The very fact that it is Akerman reading these words of real longing from another source contributes to the alienated quality of the picture's tone as it establishes the idea of a distanciation between text and the ability to ever inhabit or understand the motivating feelings or impetus of that text, even when one is inherently sympathetic. Further, the words do not just act as a way to off set images of big city oppression, they deepen these compositions by positioning them as surfaces which are essentially contemplative and which allow for the emergence of a multitude of poetic associations; it helps, of course, that there is a coherent construction which delimits interpretation. Compare this to the way a similar technique is employed in Devor's absurd Zoo, in which the ravishing, sensual images are set against voice over which does not directly elucidate the image or even indirectly inform it. In Devor's film, however, the effect comes across as arbitrary and indifferently applied, as though the technique is enough to connote depth and significance. The final shot in News from Home is justifiably famous as well--a powerful, nonreductive image which embraces both longing and the need for separation.

I have to admit that I was least satisfied with Les rendez-vous d'Anna. I'm sure I'm missing something but here alone Akerman seemed to falter a bit. I don't even know why that is exactly except that it all feels just too familiar in terms of form and content now. In this case the general benefit of seeing these films in sequence may work against the intent as Akerman's own presence in the lead character as performed by Aurore Clement is all too recognizable, unavoidable, even suffocating on occasion. Still, there's no faulting her lensing and it helps prop up what otherwise often comes across as an excessively flaccid rendering of typical Euro-art house angst/ennui post-Antonioni. Whatever debt Akerman may have to other filmmakers, in the past it never came across as stultifying or as an airless, uninspired reproduction. Here it does. It ultimately feels twice as long as Dielman. As I said, I suppose I'm not being fair to it and I'd love to hear arguments in its defense. There are moments of desperate connection that work (the image of Anna gently singing while the out of commission TV blinks away with static in the background is a personal favorite) but in the end it's just all so of a piece, going through the requisite motions of standard issue anomie. Her great formal skill is squandered on this.

As to the extras on the set: the short films are a curiosity but not much more. The interviews with everyone except Akerman are pretty good, informative and interesting for the most part, though at times they feel as though they descend into a little too much self-congratulation. The actual "interview" with Akerman reading her thoughts off a sheaf of papers is surprisingly vital for what she allows herself to reveal. Still, undeniably to me, the centerpiece of this collection and its most valuable inclusion is the behind the scenes doc on Dielman. I'm amazed this even exists but I'm certainly grateful it does. What a wonderful opportunity it is to see Akerman at such a young age putting this masterpiece together. It really is quite intimidating to think that she was capable of such heights of greatness in her relative youth, a stage when most people would be very far from being able to comprehend the great importance of subtlety in presenting such material to keep it from the pitch of rancorous polemic. Admittedly, some of this doc is a bit wearing, especially the emphasis paid to minutiae (if you want to see that done with a purpose watch the film!) but it is vital if only to watch Akerman and Delphine Seyrig go through the preparation and filming of the climactic sequence. Fascinating, deeply compelling stuff. And that moment at the end between Seyrig and the girls on the set is pretty fascinating, too. I'm not sure how we're supposed to take it, frankly. I mean, does Seyrig really believe what she's saying or is it all still a performance? Probably both.

So, overall, an exquisite set, which will hopefully compel someone to release a similarly thorough box of her later work and will undoubtedly compel us all to replace the discs themselves in sturdier containers (per David's sanguine suggestion).

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GringoTex
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#65 Post by GringoTex » Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:34 pm

I first watched Jeanne Dielman about 15 years ago via a ************ 16mm cropped print and thought it was impressive but a real chore. A complteley formalist excercise, I thought. And because of the crappy print I saw, I thought it was supposed to be an ugly looking film.

Today I watched the gorgeous widescreen DVD from Belgium and discovered it's a beautiful movie. It's the grand epic of domestic space- like Lawrence of Arabia in an apron. And it's not at all boring like it sounds. You see the widow perform the same functions over the course of three different days, but on the second day and third day, you notice the little differences in her routines, and you start assigning psychological motivations for these tiny differences. It all becomes very intense and foreboding. It's not a formalist exercise like I thought- it's a thriller.

I don't buy the ending as is, rather I read it as a daydream. Jeanne can daydream the ending as a human- if she actually commits the act, she's a psychopath. Akerman did not spend three hours analyzing the moves of a psycho. That's my take.

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zedz
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#66 Post by zedz » Sun Jun 22, 2008 4:15 pm

GringoTex wrote:like Lawrence of Arabia in an apron
Nicely put!
And it's not at all boring like it sounds. You see the widow perform the same functions over the course of three different days, but on the second day and third day, you notice the little differences in her routines, and you start assigning psychological motivations for these tiny differences. It all becomes very intense and foreboding. It's not a formalist exercise like I thought- it's a thriller.
Same response here - it's a beautifully, craftily structured film.
I don't buy the ending as is, rather I read it as a daydream. Jeanne can daydream the ending as a human- if she actually commits the act, she's a psychopath. Akerman did not spend three hours analyzing the moves of a psycho. That's my take.
I don't buy the ending either, but I don't think I can cut the film that much interpretive slack. However, I can forgive five minutes of bad faith after several hours of brilliance.

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#67 Post by sevenarts » Tue Jun 24, 2008 1:34 pm

zedz wrote:I don't buy the ending either, but I don't think I can cut the film that much interpretive slack. However, I can forgive five minutes of bad faith after several hours of brilliance.
Yea, I'm with you. There's certainly nothing within the film itself that suggests Jeanne only imagines these events -- that interpretation requires a pretty massive leap of logic independent of the film itself, especially since there's nothing in the preceding three hours that delves at all into Jeanne's internal state. Considering how much the film is concerned with observing outer surfaces and actions from an objective stance, it'd be very odd if the ending suddenly leapt, without transition or indication, into the main character's imagination.

I can forgive the ending, although it is troubling that those "five minutes of bad faith" are at the very end and seem to be what the film was very consciously building towards. It's just enough to keep this near-masterpiece from conceptual and artistic perfection.

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GringoTex
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#68 Post by GringoTex » Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:18 pm

sevenarts wrote:There's certainly nothing within the film itself that suggests Jeanne only imagines these events -- that interpretation requires a pretty massive leap of logic independent of the film itself, especially since there's nothing in the preceding three hours that delves at all into Jeanne's internal state. Considering how much the film is concerned with observing outer surfaces and actions from an objective stance, it'd be very odd if the ending suddenly leapt, without transition or indication, into the main character's imagination.
I agree with you and Zedz that I'm probably overinterpreting the film. But there is a transitional shot into Jeanne's internal state. It happens right before the final John's visit and it's the only shot in the entire film in which Jeanne is doing nothing. She just sits there staring into space for about two minutes. I found it very startling- much more so than the stabbing shot.

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#69 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:34 pm

GringoTex wrote:But there is a transitional shot into Jeanne's internal state. It happens right before the final John's visit and it's the only shot in the entire film in which Jeanne is doing nothing. She just sits there staring into space for about two minutes. I found it very startling- much more so than the stabbing shot.
Well, there is a very similar shot four minutes earlier in which Jeanne slumps in the armchair at a loss for something to do (lasting thirty seconds). She also stares into space for six and a half minutes at the end. I don't think these shots could be 'transitional', as what Jeanne appears to be 'doing' is desperately willing time to catch up with her increasingly out-of-sync routine (the shot you mention takes place just after she has checked the clock in the bedroom).

I totally agree that these shots are extremely startling though, as they are the only ones in which Jeanne is genuinely inactive (not cooking, cleaning, walking, talking, listening, etc), and as a result the time-pressure that courses through them is unbearable. They take Akerman's phenomenological desire for the spectator to experience duration to its limit:
With me, you see the time pass. And feel it pass. You also sense that this is the time that leads toward death.
Anyway, I dig the ending, however worryingly symbolic it may be. It's the only point at which the film shifts from direct presentation of pro-filmic events to fictional representation, proposing a daring reconsideration of cinematic 'realism'. As the stylistic presentation remains consistent during the murder, the event becomes as 'equivalent' as everything else - testing Akerman's strategy of de-dramatisation, but not overwhelming it (in my humble opinion).

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#70 Post by david hare » Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:17 pm

Without wanting to add much if anything to foggy's excellent visual dissection of the last few minutes (intertia, after action, indeed shots of "disappearance" in the disuptively rhythmed editing of scene before the John arrives, ... ... I do want to add that the "incident DOES very much work for me as a the last in a series of temporal jolts, and given the quasi elliptical counterpoint of action and stasis preceding and then following it, the moment suggests the possibility it has already happened before, might happen again, might have been entirely imagined....

The ending ssimply resists easy intepretation which is why I love it.

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#71 Post by tavernier » Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:33 pm

Film Forum press release:
OCTOBER 31- NOVEMBER 6 One week!
Chantal Akerman's JEANNE DIELMAN starring Delphine Seyrig
New 35mm Print!
(1975) A simply dressed Delphine Seyrig (Last Year at Marienbad, Stolen Kisses) puts something on the stove in her modest apartment, then answers the doorbell to admit an older man. Thus begins this microscopic examination of one woman’s life, told with mostly long-take, real-time visuals and a music-less and mostly dialogue-less track. Akerman's breakthrough film, made when she was just 25. “A great movie. The operative word in the description is details. As in Psycho or The Birds, Akerman reveals the sinister in the commonplace, but does so to a far more astute social purpose.” -- J. Hoberman, Village Voice.

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#72 Post by foggy eyes » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:39 am

For those in the UK, an installation featuring To Walk Next to One's Shoelaces in an Empty Fridge (2004) and Women from Antwerp in November (2007) is on at Camden Arts Centre in London until 14/09. I noticed this thanks to the article in yesterday's Guardian, and must make my way over to see it soon.

David Schwartz reviewed the Moving Through Time and Space exhibition for Moving Image Source a couple of weeks ago, and more info can be found here. A catalogue was also published in May, and is very reasonably priced at Amazon US.

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Guido
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Re: Chantal Akerman on DVD

#73 Post by Guido » Fri May 15, 2009 6:11 pm

This is the message I received after sending an inquiry to Icarus Films concerning their Akerman titles:
Thank you for contacting us. We are working on a home video release of FROM THE EAST. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for our home video email newsletter; here is a link to the home video website, where you sign up and also can see the rest of our small but growing collection.

Wittsdream
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Re: Chantal Akerman on DVD

#74 Post by Wittsdream » Wed May 20, 2009 12:55 pm

Guido wrote:This is the message I received after sending an inquiry to Icarus Films concerning their Akerman titles:
Thank you for contacting us. We are working on a home video release of FROM THE EAST. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for our home video email newsletter; here is a link to the home video website, where you sign up and also can see the rest of our small but growing collection.
That is some fantastic news indeed! I've been waiting on this integral Akerman film to be issued in any format for the last decade. Some more good news on the topic of future Icarus Films releases, Meredith Miller of IF confirmed in e-mail that Patricio Guzman's monumental "Battle of Chile" is being prepped for a fall 2009 release on DVD. I will post any new updates on these films, and MODS, feel free to re-post this on an actual Icarus Films or Battle of Chile thread.

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Re: Chantal Akerman on DVD

#75 Post by mikebowes » Thu May 21, 2009 12:30 pm

D'Est is a great choice for an upcoming release from them.

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