The Molenbeek district of Brussels is oft-seen as contentious and brimming with unrest when spoken about in the media, but director Reetta Huhtanen deliberately captures the neighbourhood through a more innocent set of eyes. Meet Aatos and Amine, 6-year-old best friends living in the same building block who share an exuberant imagination.
Aatos is of Finnish-Chilean descent, while Amine comes from the notable Muslim migrant community of Brussels. A coming-of-age story at heart, Gods of Molenbeek is unique in its visual deftness and pointed dialogue as it explores the weighty questions of humanity from the curious minds of children.
From magic carpet rides along the sidewalk to wanders in nearby forests, the camera stays close to the two friends’ sides, always perched low to the ground. In doing so, the concerns of adult life seem distant, even if they never fully disappear. There are passing reminders of perils — a radio broadcast speaks of a terrorist attack, the harassment of a Muslim group is overheard in the marketplace, and a local militia goes as far as to check the backpacks of the kids themselves as part of a security protocol. Segments like these serve as an acknowledgment of external uncertainties in a film that is nonetheless grounded by the charm and assurance of its young protagonists. Gods of Molenbeek is thus at once a tender portrayal of friendship, as well as a warm-hearted search for meaning in an increasingly adult world. -AP
Runtime: 73 mins
Director: Reetta Huhtanen