In this paper, I reframe film theorist Stephen Heath's analysis of avant-garde filmmaker, Chantal Akerman's, News From Home (1976). In 1981 Heath claimed that Akerman's use of 'absence' in the static camera images and the voiceover, which features the filmmaker reading letters her mother sent her when she lived in New York, posited 'the impossible question of a woman's desire', i.e. that female desire is unrepresentable.
In my paper, I reformulate this question of desire in terms of possibility. I particularly analysed the final sequences of the film where the voiceover disappears and the camera, mounted on the Staten Island ferry, pulls out from the city, shots of which comprise the film, and reframes the horizon. This links to my research interest in how a singular moment in a film might have a particular affect on a viewer. I used philosopher Gilles Deleuze's writing on subjectivity in his book Difference and Repetition in conjunction with his work on cinema in Cinema 2: The Time-Image to reconsider the movement and affectivity of water in this image, as continuous rather than fixated on 'absence.' Re-read in the twenty-first century, News From Home, viewed in the light of a Deleuzian approach rather than Heath's psychoanalytic one, can be read as liberating female subjectivity as a state of continuous affective movements. In terms of the scene of spectatorship, this state is coterminous with a form of narration closer to the inner movements of feelings as they pass through and are accumulated by the body, a state that Nathalie Sarraute writes about in the introduction to her novel, Tropisms. Key to my reading is the concept of duration as a qualitative movement of differentiation, which is found in the philosophy of Henri Bergson.