Chantal Akerman’s rigorously observational portrait of her late mother takes on a whole new significance in the wake of the director’s own premature passing. Natalia ‘Nelly’ Akerman, who died in 2014 aged 86, was a Polish-born survivor of Auschwitz, and she had a profound influence in the direction of all her daughter’s films, including the classic Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels.
Despite its title, imploring us to see the film as more than an assemblage of private recordings, Akerman’s film is a deeply personal work, compiled from fly-on-the-wall footage captured as she leaves her camera lying around to capture daily life in her mother’s Brussels flat. As befitting Akerman’s longstanding reputation for challenging audience expectations, Akerman refuses to bow to documentary convention, placing just as much emphasis on silence and space than any of her mother’s fascinating recollections. The result is a strangely moving testament to one of cinema’s great provocateurs.
Documentary 2020 83 mins Director: Keith Fulton
Terry Gilliam battles with obsession and self-doubt in this poignant, insightful documentary on the making of his long-anticipated screen adaptation of Don Quixote.
Documentary 2019 98 mins Director: James Erskine
Part film-noir, part tragedy, this mesmerising documentary uncovers the true life of the legendary Billie Holiday.
Documentary 2020 72 mins Director: Elizabeth Lo
A soulful new voice emerges in Elizabeth Lo’s evocative award-winning debut documentary, which details life on the streets of Istanbul from the perspective of the city’s stray dogs.
Documentary 2021 80 mins Director: Clara Casian
Poignant film by artist filmmaker Clara Casian addressing the aftermath and extreme trauma of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
Documentary 2021 96 mins Director: Celeste Bell
The death of punk icon and X-Ray Spex frontwoman Poly Styrene sends her daughter on a journey through her mother’s archives in this intimate documentary.
Documentary 2020 199 mins Director: Khalik Allah
The monumental new diary film from New York-based director and photographer Khalik Allah.
Sight & Sound's Best Films
Drama 2017 127 mins Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Andrey Zvyagintsev (Elena, Leviathan) delivers a masterpiece in this caustic look at contemporary Russian society, a failed marriage and the disappearance of a child. A major prize winner at both Cannes and BFI London Film Festival.
Thriller 2019 87 mins Director: Kitty Green
Kitty Green's #MeToo drama is a sobering take on one day in the life of a film company assistant.
Thriller 2019 104 mins Director: Brandon Cronenberg
In the near future, a cool and ruthless assassin who uses other people’s bodies to carry out execution-style killings comes unstuck when her latest vehicle resists.
Thriller 2019 104 mins Director: Ladj Ly
Ladj Ly’s extraordinary Cannes Jury Prize-winning debut obliterates the myth of cultural integration in France.
Horror 2020 66 mins Director: Rob Savage
The lockdown horror sensation from British director Rob Savage follows six friends who disturb a malevolent spirit during a Zoom séance.
Drama 2019 118 mins Director: Shannon Murphy
Seriously ill Milla (Eliza Scanlen) clashes with her parents, who disapprove when she brings home her sketchy new boyfriend Toby, in this tragicomic debut from Shannon Murphy.
Drama 2020 96 mins Director: Francisco Márquez
There are echoes of Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman in this gripping tale of class divisions and ethical responsibility in contemporary Argentina.
Drama 2019 80 mins Director: Samuel Van Grinsven
Sexual obsessions spiral dangerously out of control in this altogether different coming-of-age tale.
Drama 2020 104 mins Director: Suzanne Guacci
Past mistakes haunt the present and threaten a new love affair between an older woman and her patient in this compelling melodrama.
Drama 2020 116 mins Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Lee Isaac Chung's sweeping story of a Korean-American family in search of the American Dream, winner of two Sundance prizes and now nominated for six Academy Awards.
Drama 2019 96 mins Director: Antoneta Kastrati
Haunted by her long-suppressed past, a Kosovar woman struggles to reconcile the expectations of motherhood with a legacy of wartime brutality.
Comedy 2018 91 mins Director: Carl Hunter
Bill Nighy, Sam Riley and Alice Lowe star in this stylish and heartfelt comedy-drama about a Scrabble-obsessed tailor searching for a lost son.