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Written by: Chantal Akerman
Directed by: Chantal Akerman
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 110
Date: 03/19/2013

From the East (1993)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Soviet Sightseeing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Chantal Akerman's From the East (D'Est) isn't a fiction film, and it isn't really a documentary (it has no narration, dialogue, or subtitles). It's sort of an experimental film, but it's mostly a home movie, albeit one created by a consummate cinema artist. Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles) took a trip through Eastern Europe to document life there after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, "before it was too late." She films dozens and dozens of people, some looking into the camera, as they stand around, perhaps waiting for something. Her camera tracks through a train station, and follows traffic and buildings. Occasionally, she enters someone's home and we see women applying makeup or making sandwiches (it was these individual moments that stuck with me most). Akerman's images are gorgeous, and they can inspire a kind of meditation or reverie. I admired it, but at 110 minutes, this is going to be a trial for most audiences. Film critics J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum both selected it as one of the ten best films of the 1990s. Icarus Films released the DVD in 2009 with no extras.

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