Close to Home
Countless filmmakers have turned to their everyday lives for inspiration, but a few directors take it even further: shooting on location in their very own living spaces. Recent global circumstances may have conspired to make a fad of this eccentric approach to moviemaking, but it’s nothing new. From cinema’s earliest days, filmmakers have shot close to home—capturing their babies at the dining table or their partners in the garden—out of economic necessity, the desire to make something more immediately personal, or simply because their outsider visions were too weird to be realized anywhere else. This series offers a diverse array of examples of this endlessly fascinating subgenre, exploring how shooting at home can affect everything from performance to composition to mood, creating new cinematic spaces where personal truths and imaginative fictions mingle in an often uneasy coexistence. Seen together, they offer a very different notion of what constitutes a “home movie.”
Close to Home Teaser
Meshes of the Afternoon
Directed by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid • 1943 • United States
Starring Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid
Cinematic trance-maker Maya Deren and her husband Alexander Hammid launched an underground revolution with this avant-garde landmark—shot in their Hollywood home, but a world away from the co...
Portrait of Jason
Directed by Shirley Clarke • 1967 • United States
Starring Jason Holliday
On the night of December 2, 1966, Shirley Clarke and a tiny crew convened in her apartment at the Hotel Chelsea to make a film. For twelve straight hours, they filmed the one-and-only Jason Holliday as he spun tales, sang,...
Saute ma ville
Directed by Chantal Akerman • 1968 • Belgium
Directed by and starring Chantal Akerman, this short film was made when she was just eighteen.
Directed by John Cassavetes • 1968 • United States
Starring John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Gena Rowlands
John Cassavetes puts a disintegrating marriage under the microscope in the searing FACES. Shot in high-contrast 16 mm black and white, the film follows the futile attempts of the captain of indust...
Directed by John Waters • 1970 • United States
The gloriously grotesque second feature directed by John Waters is replete with all manner of depravity, from robbery to murder to one of cinema's most memorably blasphemous moments. Made on a shoestring budget in Waters' native Baltimore, with th...
Directed by Chantal Akerman • 1972 • Belgium
In Chantal Akerman's early short film LA CHAMBRE, we see the furniture and clutter of one small apartment room become the subject of a moving still life, with Akerman herself staring back at us. This breakthrough formal experiment is the first film ...
Directed by Martin Scorsese • 1974 • United States
Starring Catherine Scorsese, Charles Scorsese
In one of his most personal works, Martin Scorsese sits down with his parents, Catherine and Charles, in their New York apartment for a free-flowing discussion that touches on family history, the imm...
Directed by Derek Jarman • 1990 • United Kingdom
Starring Tilda Swinton, Johnny Mills, Kevin Collins
Half waking dream and half fiery polemic, THE GARDEN was born of director Derek Jarman’s rage over continued antigay discrimination and the sluggardly response to the AIDS crisis (he himself he h...
Directed by Ken Jacobs • 2010 • United States
Ken Jacobs applies his exacting digital techniques—including his signature stroboscopic effects—to footage of the New York City loft where he lives and works. The result is a deconstruction of his most personal physical space and an intensification o...
And Nothing Happened
Directed by Naima Ramos-Chapman • 2016 • United States
Starring Naima Ramos-Chapman, Angela Silverio, Bianca Soto
A young woman dealing with the psychological aftermath of sexual violence shuffles between experiences both mundane and extraordinary as she attempts to leave her New York City apart...
Directed by Laida Lertxundi • 2018 • Spain, United States
Laida Lertxundi applies the six compositional principles of eighteenth-century Chinese painter Shih-t’ao (such as “draw attention to a scene emerging from a static background” and “add scattered dynamism to immobility”) to this cosmic dia...
The Big Trim
Directed by John Magary • 2020 • United States
Starring Kalle Condliffe, John Magary
Cooped up in their New York City apartment during the pandemic, a couple’s lockdown frustrations find release during a DIY haircut in this black-comic riff on Martin Scorsese’s breakthrough short THE BIG SHAVE.