the wasp and the weather – film

the wasp and the weather
16:9, colour, 5.1 Dolby, Dutch, Tamazight, Arabic, English and Farsi spoken (various subtitles available), BE, 2019, 19’

Exploring an archive of poetry written by youngsters at the former youth centre Rzoezie (Tamazight for “wasp”, ‘78-‘06) in Mechelen (Belgium), the original authors and contemporary poets revisit, recite and discuss their selection of poems, probing their resonance in today’s social and political “weather”.

Program note by Olivia Cooper-Hadjian (Cinéma du Réel 2020)
“In Mechelen, in Belgian Flanders, poems ring out. Contrary to an essentialist view of the literary text, Robin Vanbesien’s film has us hear the poems whilst showing us the context in which they originated. Their history, first of all: the poems were written in the Rzoezie centre, set up in 1978 by youngsters of Moroccan and Amazigh decent, in line with principles of Paulo Freire’s “pedagogy of the oppressed”. Then, their geographical context: a peaceful but indifferent landscape. The film recreates the militant nature of these poems: far from being fixed in their written form, they are embodied, recited by voices that stumble, introduce, comment on a text that someone has chosen and made their own. The act of writing is completed by the act of reading, which itself becomes a manifesto – so when a man hears himself reciting one of his texts, he bursts into laughter at the decidedly optimistic tone of his past writings. This intensifies the power of the poems, which give a powerful voice to the feeling of not belonging. As for the images, they trace the path of light to convey the relevance of the texts: the glow of a cloudy sky on a face, the shadow of a chair, the reflections of spotlights on the furniture in the Rzoezie centre, which has now been converted into a non-political institution, where we hear a passing police siren. A multilingual sound piece completes this architecture and recounts the continued sufferings and struggles of “non-Whites” in the West.”

With poems of the participants of Rzoezie youth centre, and with Fatma Alomrani, Abdelhay Ben Abdellah, Marcus Bergner, Muhned Bnana, Mathieu Charles, M’Hamed El Ouali, Hooman, Samira Saleh and Mohamed Tawfiq. Image: Diren Agbaba. Sound: Diren Agbaba, Laszlo Umbreit. Editing: Robin Vanbesien. Sound mixing: Arno Ledoux

Commissioned by Contour Biennale 9 “Coltan as Cotton” (Mechelen), curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez; Produced by timely (Brussels); Co-produced by Contour Biennale 9 (Mechelen) and Spectre Productions (Rennes); Supported by Darna – Flemish Moroccan Culture House (Brussels), BUDA Arts Centre (Kortrijk), Arts in Society Award (Brussels), Antwerp Research for the Arts (Antwerp).

Cinéma du Réel 2020, 42e festival international du film documentaire, Paris (international première)