Through films that alternate contention, order and symmetry on the one hand, and obsession, unpredictability and lack of control on the other hand, Chantal Akerman is considered one of the best filmmakers. Her 1975 film, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is the most important feminist film of that decade. In Nada Ocurre. El hiperrealismo cotidiano en Chantal Akerman, Ivone Margulies presents the first exhaustive study of this influential Belgian avant-garde filmmaker. Margulies bases her critical analysis on a detailed investigation of the work of Akerman, specifically of Saute ma ville, a black-and-white film that is 13 minutes long and made in 1968 through Jeanne Dielman y Je, tu, il, elle to present times. Focusing on the real-time representation of the daily activities of a woman in Jeanne Dielman, Margulies puts in perspective the history of social and progressive realism and the work of the filmmaker. Looking for two different but related research lines, she develops an interest in the everyday that extends from post-war neo-realist cinema to the feminist rewriting of the history of women in the seventies.
Next, it shows how Akerman’s body cinema is influenced by American experiments with performance and time as well as works by European filmmakers such as Bresson, Rohmer and Dreyer. This analysis reviews the opposition between realism and modernism in cinema, and defines the hyperrealist minimalist aesthetic of Akerman in contrast to Godard’s anti-illusionism while also revealing the inadequacy of the popular qualification of Akerman’s films as only modernist or feminist. An essential book for the scholars of her work, Nada Ocurre. El hiperrealismo cotidiano en Chantal Akerman will not only interest critics and academics, but also filmmakers, art historians and all readers interested in her work.