Unfinished Documentary, “Hanging Out Yonkers” Added to Criterion Box Set

An unfinished documentary film, “Hanging Out Yonkers,” is receiving renewed attention over 50 years after its initial inception. Criterion’s new box set containing materials and films related to Chantal Akerman’s successful film career includes “Hanging Out Yonkers”. The 1973 film was meant to highlight stories of troubled youths and former drug-addicts in Yonkers. Its addition to this new box set means increased access to this otherwise lost work.

What is the Criterion Collection?

The Criterion Collection focuses on the distribution and restoration of what they deem “important classic and contemporary films“. Criterion also developed standardization for home-video such as letterbox formatting, film-restoration, and the inclusion of bonus features. Therefore, it is widely viewed as a significant resource for those seeking in-depth knowledge of cinematography and film. Its range has covered several formats from VHS to Blu-ray. It now also boasts its own online streaming platform.

Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman’s 1973 documentary project “Hanging Out Yonkers” is included as a supplement in a 2024 Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition featuring films she directed throughout the first ten years of her career, “Chantal Akerman Masterpieces, 1968–1978”. Known in the industry for her talent and skill, Akerman’s work continues to be celebrated posthumously through these such endeavors.

Documenting addiction

The unfinished documentary “Hanging Out Yonkers” was one of Akerman’s earlier works. She received the commission by an unspecified welfare organization in the greater New York City area. The aim of the film was to follow the journeys of troubled youths and former drug-addicts as they sought to reintegrate into greater society and reclaim their lives in Yonkers.

In the undertaking of this project, it is notable that Akerman collected many hours interview footage with the subjects of the documentary, which have been complied into a 26-minute soundless video. Despite the silence, viewers come to understand the details of the stories articulated simply through the imagery of the video.

For those looking to dive into the world of film, learn more about Chantal Akerman, or who are simply curious, “Hanging Out Yonkers,” among other films and materials relating to her film career, can be found in the Criterion Collection’s new box set here.

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