Our City: Maria Tarantino
This is Brussels, the capital of Europe, a city of concrete cages wrapped in glass, planned by businessmen and politicians, set in motion by construction workers, and animated by office people. But there, in the narrow spaces just beyond the reach of bureaucracy, lies the Brussels that still breathes. You can hear its multicultural heart beating and see the traces of all the other cities, the ones each person carries within him/herself. All of us together add up to create the complex body and dissonant identity of Our City.

OUR CITY is the portrait of a city. Not the capital of Europe, not even of Belgium but a city that belongs to everyone, a “city of foreigners” that affirms itself more loudly here than elsewhere. Brussels is not New York, it’s multiculturalism does not have an Anglosaxon flavor, meaning that all power and meanings are in the hands of a few trend-setters who gravitate around a few hundred square meters on the island of Manhattan.

Here you taste the real multiculturalism, that of chaos, frustration and lack of meaning. A non-domesticated multiculturalism where the traces of world geopolitics, colonial residues, ex-Soviet margins, real estate speculations, the opportunism of multinationals, political ambition cross paths… Brussels is a multi-faced mirage. In its ambiguous profile, expats and immigrants, commuters and asylum-seekers, all see the promise of a private happiness. We often say that Brussels does not have a strong identity like Paris or London. That’s because Brussels is alive, because it still breathes, because Brussels is in the making. If we compare it to other cities, Brussels is more free because here the usual hierarchies have a lesser grip on the situation.

This film resembles my life path. From my studies in philosophy it borrows the metaphysical reflections that will underlie first my work as a freelance journalist and then the handling of images and sounds in my films. I always love to go and see what is behind façades, real and metaphorical. Façades of offices, of homes, of institutions, of laws, of economic mechanisms…I like to juxtapose heterogenous elements to cause bursting moments of beauty and sparks of meaning. The film is a collage, imposed by the diversity of the inhabitants of Brussels, by the worlds of images they bring with them and which resonate in their festive and nostalgic rituals. The editing is non-narrative. At times it extends a situation in the one that follows, at other it displaces us in an unexpected way, alternating the enjoyment of urban spaces with the frame of meaning.

OUR CITY is a film about a city under construction. On its horizon you can see the profile of cranes and the skeletons of new towers. But what is the human construction that we are putting into place? What is the human profile that surges out of the city?

83 min, colour & b/w, english
directed by: Maria Tarantino
written by: Maria Tarantino
produced by: Maarten Schmidt