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Chantal Akerman reads letters sent to her from her mother in Belgium, against a tableau of shots of 1970s New York.

Documentary 1976 89 mins Not rated

Director: Chantal Akerman



When a 21-year-old Chantal Akerman first moved to New York in the early 70s, her mother wrote her a series of letters containing both maternal worries and pride, as well as the minutiae of life back home in Belgium. Returning to the city in 1976, Akerman reads these mother-to-daughter letters aloud against a backdrop of shots of Manhattan and a soundtrack of beeping cars and rumbling subway trains.

The result is a mesmerising reflection on the raw, thrilling loneliness of the city and the intimate, often banal, warmth of the family home. Ranked joint 52nd in the 2022 Sight and Sound Great Films of All Time poll