Welcome Home and Problemski Hotel: A great escape and a modern-day fable on migrants
by Aurore Engelen
- Today sees the theatrical releases of two very different Belgian films, which show off two complementary sides of the country's audiovisual production
Welcome Home [+see also:
film profile] is the second feature by Philippe de Pierpont (She's Not Crying, She's Singing [+see also:
film profile]). It follows the erratic path trodden by Lucas and Bert, a pair of teenagers lacking a sense of direction, who decide to reinvent their lives by investing in luxury and, as luck would have it, uninhabited properties. But their carefree days are soon put in jeopardy by an ill-fated encounter. Martin Nissen and Arthur Buyssens really hold their own and put on brilliant performances, depicting a couple of intense and spontaneous characters – although we may end up thinking that we have seen them before. Philippe de Pierpont is clearly very sure of his creation and offers us a successful spin on a genre that is, by and large, overused – the teenage movie. Produced by Iota Production and A Private View, in co-production with Mollywood and Proximus, and with the support of the Film and Audiovisual Centre of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Voo, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund, and backing from the Belgian Federal Government's Tax Shelter, Welcome Home is being distributed by Imagine in four theatres in Brussels and Wallonia.
Today's other release, Problemski Hotel [+see also:
film profile] by Manu Riche, represents a whole cinematic world, and tells a modern-day fable about the migrant drama and the seemingly inextricable labyrinth of refugee transit camps. The story, which has been opened up to the whole world through its myriad characters from various different backgrounds, unfolds almost entirely in a disused block of flats, literally a tower of Babel, which serves as the centre of a fantasy-filled and eerie "welcome" for so many migrants who carry in their hearts a tiny sliver of hope for their new horizons. Teetering between a Kafkaesque nightmare and real desperation, Manu Riche films their wait – their wait for refugee status, or more often than not the refusal of said status, their wait for their memories to return, their wait for a child that nobody had been expecting, and their wait for Christmas and a possible symbolic harmony between all the different parts of the world. This overview would not be complete without the attention that the film pays to those who are in charge of organising the reception, bringing to light their weaknesses, their humanity and, often, their powerlessness. Problemski Hotel, Manu Riche's debut fiction feature, was produced by Cassette for Timescapes, Volya Films and Thank You & Good Night Productions, with the support of the VAF, the CCA and the Netherlands Film Fund; it is distributed by Lumière.
(Translated from French)