Van hier en ginder / D’ici et de là-bas

Chico Salvak & Een topografisch portret van José Besprosvany

Actor's Studio

17-23 mei/mai/May, 18:00

Why does Brussels rarely showcase the work of artists and intellectuals who live here but were born elsewhere? In 1998, with Dito'Dito and transquinquennal, the Festival arranged a platform for listening to the nomadic routes taken, from North Africa to Europe, and to illuminate the thoughts of those who feel they belong to more than one country. Continued in 1999 with artists of Chinese, Mexican, Congolese and Tunisian origin, D'ici et de là-bas will flourish again in 2000. This time, two film-makers, Marilyn Watelet and An van Dienderen, will be seizing hold of the ten original discussions to revisit these words in their own way - words that are dense and generous, sharp and full of vitalism- to spread them even further.

Chico Salvak, Paroles données
Regie/Réalisation/Direction: Marilyn Watelet, Szymon Zaleski

Een topografisch portret van José Besprosvan
Regie en beeld/Réalisation et images/Direction and pictures: An van Dienderen

Montage/Editing: Rudi Maerten
Muziek/Musique/Musik : "Chant de guerre"
Componist/Componiste/Compositor : Hugues de Courson
Cellist/Celliste : Michel Boulanger
Zangeressen/Chanteuses/Singers : Marie Cavenaile, Isabella di Venosa
Klank/Son/Sound : Daniel Tursh
Met de steun van/Avec l'aide de/With help from: José Begrossvany en Compagnie Idea, Didier Volckaert, Reinhart Cosaert
Met dank aan/Remerciements à/Acknomledgments : Regjep Ahmetas, voor het gebruik van de beelden voor /pour l'utilisation des images de/for the use of the pictures for: "Lara"

Twee documentaires gebaseerd op de interviews van Van hier en ginder ‘98 en ‘99
Deux documentaires basés sur les interviews de D'ici et de là-bas '98 et ‘99
Two documentaries based on the interviews in Van hier en ginder / D'ici et de là-bas '98 and ‘99

Leila Houari / interview : Hamel Puissant
Emerald Beryl / interview : Jean-Pierre Rondas
Mohamed el Baroudi / interview : Fatiha Saïdi
Marjorie Boston / interview : Piet Piryns
Malek Chebel / interview : Fatiha Saïdi
Shanglie Zhou / interview : Everlyn Nicodemus
David Bovee / interview : Willy Thomas
Pie tshibanda / interview : Jean-Pierre Jacquemin
Ghalia Benali / interview : Leila Houari
José Besprosvany / interview : Claire Diez

Productie/Production: Brussel/Bruxelles 2000, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts
Presentatie/Présentation/Presentation: Actor's studio (Brussel/Bruxelles), KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Van hier en ginder / D'ici et de là-bas ‘98 & ‘99:
Concept: Dito'Dito, transquinquennal, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts
Realisatie/Réalisation/Realisation: Dito'Dito, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts
Coproductie/Coproduction: Dito'Dito, Brussel/Bruxelles 2000 ('99 & 2000), KunstenFESTIVALdesArts
Presentatie/Présentation/Presentation: Gemeenschapscentrum De Markten ('98), Beursschouwburg ('99), KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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In 1998, the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts sat down with two theatre companies, Dutch-speaking Dito'Dito and francophone transquinquennal, to create a listening forum for foreign artists and intellectuals currently living in Brussels, Paris or Amsterdam. International and cutting across Belgium's two linguistic communities, the Festival likes to think of itself as an echo chamber for the voices of these minorities which are often a hostage to national differences of opinion over language and communities. Working in the heart of Brussels, the actors of Dito worked at grass roots level, hand in hand with transquinquennal, to create bridges of inspiration between their experiences and the desire of the minority communities to speak out about their feelings and problems.

All three groups were concerned about the poor light in which what is termed ‘the presence of immigrant communities in Brussels' was being portrayed. Convinced that there was not enough room to realise the huge potential for cultural enrichment of this urban interbreeding, the trio got together to invite these witnesses to share their journey, their struggle and their view of the society of their homeland and our own.

In 1998, five interviews took place - interviews that were intimate, ardent, critical and subtle. The interviewees were Leila Houari (writer, born in 1958, originally from Casablanca then lived in Brussels and Paris), Emerald Beryl (poet, 1964, Morocco, Amsterdam) Marjorie Boston (actress, 1964, Surinam, Amsterdam), Malek Chebel (psychoanalyst, 1953, Algeria, Paris) and Mohamed El Baroudi (professor of literature, 1935, Casablanca, Brussels).

In 1999, five other testimonies were born. They were those of Shanglie Zhou (visual artist, 1958, Shanghai, Antwerp), Pie Tshibanda (psychologist and author, 1951, the Congo, Belgium), Ghalia Ben Ali (singer, 1968, Tunis, Brussels), José Besprosvany (choreographer, 1959, Mexico City, Brussels) and David Boveé (Antwerp musician, nomad).

In 2000, film-makers Marilyn Watelet and An Van Dienderen have taken up these personal and sensitive accounts and developed them through the moving image. Having seen the 20 hours of interviews of the preceding two years, they - and we - wanted nothing more than to prolong these stories and personal journeys, to give them a new life, which they, as sensitive female film-makers and hostile to abusive generalisations, would irrigate.

Marilyn Watelet (Brussels, 1948) has worked closely with Simon Zaleski (Lodz, Poland, 1952) since 1994. "Simon has always said to me that you can only start to live under the gaze of someone else. For years, the looks that people gave him in Brussels did not permit him to live." The cinema is a way of looking, the camera an eye. The question is: how to expose this optic nerve which leads to the brain? Should you plump for the most obvious solution - which is usually the most spectacular and the most violent - as the media are continually doing, or should you take the time to listen so as to be able to see better? The question did not even present itself. Together, Marilyn and Simon conceived and directed documentaries which were their way of flushing out those stereotypes that hold conventional ideas together. In Fin de Siglo, they filmed contemporary Cuba via the exit of a large store from which local shoppers were emerging. Focusing on people's daily lives, they captured the uncertainty of the time when communism was giving way to capitalist illusions.

They followed young Belgian devotees of Black Metal music - and showed that there is nothing fearsome about these feared fanatics of satanic rock. The duo pulled clichés to pieces. They looked at frontiers, at the outer edge of Poland - "the sieve through which all migrations have passed" - and of Germany, "the inflexible guardian on the threshold of the rich nations".

Today, Marilyn Watelet and Simon Zaleski are taking a look at those interviews D'ici et de là-bas. "These people and their lives touch us," explains Marilyn. "They share the fact that they were born elsewhere, but each has his own intuition and his own experiences. These vary from one generation to the next. The interviews were with individuals. We would like to put them in conversations, bring them out into the open air in Brussels. I have the feeling that Brussels is a privileged place in which to be, wherever you come from. Rather than being subservient to French culture, the town is close to Germany and England. To live in the heart of it is to come into daily contact with other cultures and communities. This town makes me fantasize - in the positive sense of the word."

"The Belgian mentality is horribly static", interjects An Van Dienderen (Brasschaat, 1971), another film-maker to bring the interviews of D'ici et de là-bas to life. "I was born here and every day I sense in Belgium that dumb need for stability that arranges acquaintances into easily identifiable compartments. And these compartments have no room for identities which come from several places at once, or for interbreeding of any kind. Anything without a category doesn't exist. Either you are in a pigeon hole or you vanish once and for all!"

An Van Dienderen practises 'visual anthropology'. She uses artistic images to counteract preconceived images. "The media produce a representation of reality. This manipulated and slanted reproduction acts as a mould for all the other media reproductions, which repeat and magnify it. Now that's what you call a vicious circle - encouraged by the feeling of superiority that Europe cultivates with regard to other continents."

An studied at Sint Lucas before going to the University of Berkeley to sit in on the lessons taken by the highly talented Korean Trinh Minh-Ha 1, who gave seminars on the ‘Third Cinema' and ‘Identities across Differences'. Third Cinema involved independent films that Hollywood had been unable to categorise. As for Identities across Differences, these were reality at a university where everyone, no matter what their nationality or age, rubbed shoulders, where the autobiographical accounts of ‘coloured women' were analysed and where each person was respected as much for what they looked like as what they had to say.

For An, something can only be respected if one first re-examines the stereotypes that are associated with it. "Why is this type of information presented in this way? Where does this prejudice stem from? Newspaper articles have a name attached to them; why don't television and radio bulletins carry the name of the persons who created them The young film-maker has developed a passion for the interviews of D'ici et de là-bas and is particularly keen to give a pictorial representation of these accounts that are forged by the personal perception of the journey that each foreign artist has undertaken, by his or her roots - and uprooting - and art.

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