Born in Brussels. She was educated at ISAS, the Belgian film school, but didn't complete this school. In 1972 she moved to New York.
She is known for her deconstructive style and pessimistic humour. Her films often represent her observations of identity, sexuality and politics. She has been widely regarded as one of Europe's prolific auteur filmmakers. She is currently represented by the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York and Paris.
Chantal Akerman was inspired toward filmmaking when she saw Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou at the age of 15. Akerman is a self-taught filmmaker. She briefly attended film school, but left after three months. In 1968, at the age of 18, she finished her first short film Saute ma ville.
In 1971 Akerman moved to New York together with Samy Szlingerbaum. She frequently attended the Anthology Film Archives and got acquainted with American experimental film. Particularly the work of Michael Snow, Andy Warhol, Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas.
Other noted influences include Robert Bresson, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and Yasujir? Ozu. Employing similar approaches - with lingering shots, minimal dialogue, deserted spaces, and symmetry - her films explore such themes as the passage of time and ritualistic behaviors.
Despite a high critical reputation and occasional flirtations with commercial cinema (the 1995 screwball comedy The Couch, for example), Akerman remains a marginal figure who explores to telling effect the concept of marginality, a subject well known to her not only as a matter of temperament, but also because she's both Jewish and lesbian.
Chantal is currently residing in Paris.