Akerman on Bresson

I’m really excited about the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, which I will attend for the first time this year and do my best to offer daily reports here at Filmjourney. Along with several hundred new films, the festival will offer its Dialogues: Talking With Pictures series of filmmakers presenting and discussing their favorite movies. One in particular, Chantal Akerman on Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest, I’m most enthusiastic about:

ìI discovered Bresson after I had discovered Godard. I discovered Godard with Pierrot le fou. I was fifteen and Godard was exactly the person I needed at that age. That shock. I loved him for his freedom, for the freedom and desire he gave me.

ìA few years later I discovered Bresson with Pickpocket. It was my second cinematographic shock, I believe. And it was Bresson I needed then, at that age. I came out of the theatre wound up like a spring; I did not know what was happening to me. This tension, this lack of adornment, he had touched something in me, something different than the desire for freedom Godard had brought out in me.

ìI donít know whether either of them influenced me, but when I say I am a split or torn person, I would say torn between the desire to make everything explode as in Pierrot le fou and the almost mystical restraint of Bresson.

ìBoth gave me a strong passion for the cinema. They made me want to do; they made me want to go far without always knowing where. Theyíve pushed me to be demanding and to get to the essential. They have opened up my imagination.î

ñ Chantal Akerman

The TIFF webpage says “It is perhaps telling that Bresson is the most-selected filmmaker of presenters in Dialogues: Talking with Pictures.”