Belgian Cinema

Split Screen: Belgian Cinema and Cultural Identity by Philip Mosley

In Split Screen: Belgian Cinema and Cultural Identity, author Philip Mosley makes a salient and illuminating re-evaluation of a bifurcated Belgian cinema, not only through the reality of a federal state characterized by a decentralized government and regional autonomy, but also irreparably marked by occupation and war, and divided by a cultural heterogeneity that has… read more »

From the Other Side, 2002

A young man stranded in a Mexican border town recounts the vivid and tragic story of his older brother who crossed the border with a group of illegal immigrants into the U.S. only to wander for days in the disorienting wilderness – each night piling together for warmth and protection, and each morning, fewer and… read more »

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, 1975

In the unnerving silence of a sparsely furnished kitchen in Brussels, a poised, anonymous middle-aged woman (Delphine Seyrig) – identified only through the title of the film as Jeanne Dielman – completes her food preparation, places the contents into a large cooking pot on the stove, reaches for a match, lights the burner, and with… read more »

Je, tu, il, elle, 1974

Je, tu, il, elle opens to the terse and contextually ambiguous, yet personally revealing statement “…And I left” as a nameless young woman – later identified as Julie (Chantal Akerman) – sits on a chair off-side of the frame with her back to the camera as she recounts an autobiographical anecdote into an obscured journal…. read more »

The Little White Girl Had to Bow Her Head for Emperor Hirohito, 2003

Based on author, choreographer, activist, and filmmaker Lydia Chagoll’s autobiography A Childhood in the Japanese Camps and historical essay Hirohito: Emperor of Japan, The Little White Girl Had to Bow Her Head for Emperor Hirohito is a lucid and impassioned examination of the postwar geopolitics that have led to the cultural amnesia and historical whitewashing… read more »

Less Dead Than the Others, 1992

Composed as a fiction film based on Buyens’s autobiographical novel, re-enacted with the intimacy of a documentary, but framed from the observational distance of an essay, Frans Buyens and Lydia Chagoll’s Less Dead Than the Others resists facile categorization – alternating between poignant crystallization of living memory in the aftermath of his younger brother’s accidental… read more »

1001 Films, 1989

One of the aspects of David Gatten’s work-in-progress, avant garde series, The Secret History of the Dividing Line that greatly impressed me was the idea of film splicing as an intrinsic act of violence, and that innate in this process of “traumatic creation” is the sculpting of a kind of liminal, alien landscape that is… read more »

The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short, 1965

AndrĂ© Delvaux often spoken passionately and poignantly of the unique bicultural experience that had infused early Belgian cinema (an industry that also fostered other pioneering bicultural filmmakers such as social realist – and undoubted spiritual ancestor to the cinema of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne – Paul Meyer) that had become increasingly regionalized towards the end… read more »

Rosetta, 1999

The film opens with a chaotic scene: Rosetta (Emilie Dequenne), dismissed from her station after her employment trial period has elapsed, refuses to leave the factory, and is escorted off the premises by security guards. Shot through a handheld camera, the confusion seems to continue as we follow Rosetta as she crosses a busy intersection,… read more »

La Promesse, 1996

There is a childlike euphoria that comes over Igor’s (Jeremie Renier) face as he and his friends run a noisy, traffic-impeding go-cart down the busy city streets. But Igor is far from the image of a naive innocent oblivious to the ways of the world. At the age of fifteen, he has left school, works… read more »