First published in France in 2013, My Mother Laughs is the final book written by the legendary and beloved Belgian artist and director Chantal Akerman (1950-2015) before her death. A moving and unforgettable memoir, the book delves deeply into one of the central themes and focuses of Akerman's often autobiographical films: her mother, who was the direct subject of her final film No Home Movie (2015).With a particular focus on the difficulties Akerman faced in conjunction with the end of her mother's life, the book combines a matter-of-fact writing style with family photographs and stills from her own films in order to better convey the totality of her experience. Akerman writes: With pride because I finally believed in my ability to say something that I'd had trouble saying. I told myself, I am strong for once, I speak. I tell the truth. Chantal Akerman (1950-2015) was a Belgian film director, screenwriter, artist and professor. She is best known for her film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), which was dubbed a masterpiece by the New York Times. During her 42 years of active filmmaking, Akerman's influence on queer, feminist and avant-garde cinema remains unmatched, her films highlighting a near-physical passage of time. Akerman's films have been shown at the Venice Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, among many others.
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My Mother Laughs [is] a memoir in the form of a poetic musing on the inevitability of death and the difficulty of letting loved ones go.--Alex Greenberger "ARTnews "
My Mother Laughs may be Akerman's most interior, psychological work. It's one final message from the artist, illuminating the mottled effect her mother had on her life and creativity.--Tanner Tafelski "Hyperallegic "
a heart-wrenching read... with Akerman's words transitioning unmarked into those of the other (always female) key figures in the book: her mother, sister, lover.--Daniel Witkin "Brooklyn Rail "
Just as Chantal Akerman's films linger on objects and people, her final book My Mother Laughs (2019) - recently published in the US by The Song Cave - lingers on the daily stresses of caretaking for her dying mother and interpersonal family anxieties.--Steven Zultanski "Frieze "
[My Mother Laughs is] a reminder that Akerman's voice was utterly unique.--Christopher Schobert "The Film Stage "
"My Mother Laughs," the last complete book by the director Chantal Akerman, is full of whats and hows and whys that linger unanswerably in the memory.--Jackson Arn "Forward "