An Alien in Brussels
A film portrait of a city
An American astronaut circling the earth was asked if he could recognise anything on the planet. He replied that he could make out two things. One was the Great Wall of China by day. The other was Belgium by night.
He was able to recognise Belgium because the motorways were lit up at night like a firefly with eight legs.
The rest of the world was dark. But Belgium could be seen from far out in space.
The brightest spot on the planet was the city of Brussels twinkling like a revolving disco ball in the darkness of the universe.
This is a film about Brussels.
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This film takes place in Brussels, a city that sometimes seems to be nothing more than a chaotic intersection of roads and railways and tramlines, a place where everyone is passing through on the way to somewhere more important.
The film follows a young woman during a day in Brussels, from the moment she is dropped off in the centre of town, weary and confused, holding a bunch of flowers and dragging a wheeled suitcase. During the course of this day, she tries to find someone who is important to her, who played an important part in her life.
She is guided by various strangers of different backgrounds through the obscure and secret places of Brussels, in search of an address that no one can identify. She meets a Flemish commuter, a Jewish dancer, a Moroccan woman, a lost tourist, a photographer, a juggler who performs at a traffic intersection, a couple in love, and an alien.
Slowly the city reveals its secrets.
A city of aliens
The woman is tired and hungry after her long journey, and her tiredness leads to her hearing voices. The statues seem to speak to her, she thinks she can hear the lost river murmuring under her feet, even the walls whisper old forgotten stories.
All the time, there is movement, traffic, trucks unloading, car horns, people talking strange languages, distant sirens.
The result is a portrait of Brussels, a city filled with hopes and dreams, where everyone speaks many languages badly, where no one plans to stay for longer than necessary.
People meet briefly, talk for a while, and then they move on.
It is a city where people come in search of identity. Where everyone is asking the same questions. Who am I? Where am I?
This is a film about the people who have come to Brussels from all over the world, like moths drawn to a flame. They have come here for a day, a week, a year, a lifetime.
It is a film about a city of beautiful aliens.
A film portrait of Brussels
Why not make a film about Brussels?
Someone asked me this question during a walking tour on a cold Saturday in February 2013. I raised the idea with my little Facebook crowd. It got nine likes and seven messages. Not a bad score. So let's do it I thought.
Brussels is one of the most misunderstood cities in the world. It is commonly seen as boring because no one knows much about it apart from that damn statue of the little boy. So a film could help to put the record straight.
It could be a feature film. Or a short. Or a documentary. Or a YouTube clip. There are many different ways to make a film these days. It needn't take a whole army of technicians to put it together. That smart phone you have in your pocket is maybe all it would take to make a serious film about Brussels.
We need aspiring actors, film-makers, extras, writers, technicians, dreamers, sponsors, musicians and supporters.
The aim is to make a film about Brussels that will touch the heart. Get in touch if you want to be part of the story of Brussels.
We will meet in a café sometime in early 2015 to start the discussion.
Brussels 7 March 2014
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