Today, the ground floor at 17 Carnot Street serves as a prayer house. In days gone by, this venue was known as Ciné Rubens, one of Belgium's largest and most modern film theatres. The five-story facade above comprises balconies and bay windows exuding a certain fin-de-siècle charm, despite a scattering of satellite dishes. In the entrance hall, the names on the rows of letterboxes and doorbells provide an obvious clue as to the many different nationalities living under this roof: Romanians, Moroccans, Burkinabes, Nepalese, Armenians and Tibetans. Almost all the tenants in this building are migrants in search of an identity.
Klara Van Es shows the same genuine commitment as in her Alzheimer's documentary Lost down Memory Lane – de Volkskrant
A modest but carefully crafted group portrait of a couple of immigrants – De Filmkrant
Carnotstreet n° 17, Antwerp, Belgium.
If you just stand before this building and wait here for fifteen minutes, you'll believe yourself on Babel's Tower: a multitude of language bites, scents and colours will hit your senses. I adore this diversity. To me, it is interesting, challenging and enriching. But I am aware that living together in this melting pot is not easy. I myself live in a nice 'white' neighbourhood – so look who's talking!
In general, we love the 'exotic' as long as we choose ourselves to meet it: on a voyage, in a restaurant, at a concert. But it becomes tricky if you are forced to cohabitate with people with another language, another religion, and other cultural habits. Intolerance, conflict and racism will soon pop up. In the public debate on migration, it is often intolerance and racism that hold the upperhand. It is "we" versus "the other". Migrants are dehumanised and denominated as 'the problem'.
My film intends to focus on the essence of migration and identity: the people themselves. They will tell their migration stories, and reflect on what it does to a human being, after five or more years of living in a new country. In my opinion, it is about time to start listening without prejudice to what "the other" has to tell us about migration, and its impact on their identity. Probably, we will hear things that we don't like. So be it. It will rebalance the way it used to be.
Directed by Klara Van Es
Writer - Klara Van Es
Editor – Leen Anthonissen
Dop – Mark Sanders
Sound – Pieter Vansteenkiste, Steven Van der Perre
Music – Jef Neve
In co-production with Memphis Film & Television (NL), VRT/Canvas and Human.
Supported by Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), Dutch Film Fund, Cobo Fund, De Provincie Antwerpen and Impulsfonds voor Migrantenbeleid.
Language: French, Dutch
Subtitles: Dutch, French