Without state support for filmmaking, many important films would not exist. The Federation Wallonie-Bruxelles celebrated 50 years of support for Belgian cinema with a special screening of shorts by five young Belgian filmmakers at the Palace Cinema.
Si Tu Étais Dans Mes Images by Lou Colpé, asks what grief means in a digitalised, globalised age. A young woman searches through pictures both from her own life and from the Internet in an attempt to “locate” her dead boyfriend. She explores South America through YouTube, and finds soulful images overlaid with inspirational quotes about “overcoming grief” on Google. Clips from birthday parties and the deep seas are montaged to create a sense of deep dislocation, for despite these images, she cannot bring back her lost loved one.
Giancarlo Rocconi travelled to China to meet the family of his future wif, and in A Chinese Family Portrait we are treated to a slow, generous look at family life in an alien culture. Shot through half-closed doors and from low angles, the film records conversations between as a young woman finds out how her parents met and what their wedding was like in Communist China. Implicitly, she compares it to her own experiences. There is no drama, nor does the film gloss over the repetitions and silences of daily life, and that is what gives it its intimacy.
Tanguy de Donder’s I Am A Monster begins with images of a BDSM chamber. The film appears to be a parody of film noir and it is difficult to know whether to feel disturbed or to laugh when the low voice-over repeats “It was here that I was meant to meet her”, and “she didn’t come”. But our attitude should turn when the voice, now against a backdrop of the city of Liège, says, “when she was young, she was a boy”. The film explores the darkness of being a “creature”, a transgender person, outcast from society.
Juanita Onzaga, takes us to Colombia in The Jungle Knows You Better than You Do, a coming-of-age story as a young man searches for the truth of what happened to his murdered father. It is a film full of ghosts, including, remarkably, a bull representing the father’s spirit, and it is implied that the young man is recovering from drug addiction. It ends without finishing the story, but we have the sense that the young man is more confident thanks to conversations with the people of his land.
In La Mazda jaune et Sa Sainteté, Sandra Heremans traces through photos the story of her father, a Belgian missionary in Rwanda in the 1950s and how he met her mother over smoked fish and foufou. There is spiritual struggle – her father was meant to be celibate, and her mother converted from Islam to Catholicism – and unanswered questions about the daughter’s own identity. Questions of identity in a time of multiculturalism and of loss are important questions for these young filmmakers, and shall be further explored in years to come.